Monday, July 29, 2013
When I got the email asking me to write this piece, I was in a place where I needed to forgive myself. Not wanting to deal with the topic of forgiveness at all (and come face to face with my need for it) I put off the post for nearly a week. But the idea of forgiveness kept popping up. Someone would write a status about it on Facebook. On Pinterest there would be a quote about forgiveness. In a newsletter I subscribe to, in other blogs I read. I couldn't seem to escape the idea of forgiveness.
So I sat down with my computer one night, determined to write about forgiveness and get this thing off my plate. I'd dealt with forgiveness many times before, and I would just write about one of those experiences.
About halfway through my writing, I noticed a shift. I don't know if it was noticeable to anyone reading it, but I felt it.
I'm human. I am tragically flawed. I make mistakes, some I'd rather not own up to, wishing I could just sweep them under the rug and move on. And, being human, when I make some of those mistakes I beat myself up over them for days. As I was writing this, I began to observe the very tender balance between forgiveness and forgetting.
I read an article by one of my inspirations, Jennifer Pastiloff, the other day about forgetting. She raised the idea that we don't forget anything. Our memories, everything that has happened to us, is stored somewhere, unable to be forgotten, even if our mind is not consciously aware. In having this storage room of sorts, Jen says that we can let go of all the things we are holding on to that don't belong to us or no longer serve us, knowing that they are kept safe in this storage room and are not gone. This way there is more room to hold those good things in your arms, the love and the laughter and the sunny Saturday's at the lake.
This was in the forefront of my mind as I was writing the article about forgiveness. As I came face to face with my need to forgive myself.
So I made a mistake. a big one. If I hold on to this mistake, keeping it in my arms, pressed tight against my ribcage, I am taking up room I could use for holding close the people I love, or the memories I don't want to forget. Part of my fear is related to the quote that says if we all let go of our problems and saw what everyone else has we'd scoop up our own. I have this fear of letting go of my problems and letting people see them. I am learning that people won't always react like I think they will, and that really my problems aren't problems that are totally new to the human race. When I forgive myself, I can let go of everything that isn't mine that I've been holding onto- the pain and the blame and the hurt and the anger and the negative self talk. Those things don't serve me anyway.
Letting go doesn't mean forgetting. It doesn't mean that it doesn't matter or that there's nothing wrong with what happened. It means I'm making more room for things that really matter, like the people I love and the memories I can wrap around myself like a blanket on a chilly day.
I'm not forgetting. I'm not throwing my heart and all it holds on the ground and stomping, letting the pieces fall where they will. It's all still there. It still belongs to me, the memories, the good and the bad. I'm just making room.
If you feel like reading the article I wrote on forgiveness, you can check it out here