It’s really okay to forgive you.
I wished I known this for myself, but instead, I carried so much guilt and shame for how I did (or did not do) whatever a young widow is supposed to suddenly be doing. There were just so many things…
As the wife of a severely injured Marine during wartime, my widowhood was made to feel unusual. Those first few months after Chad died, those agencies, friends, church members, our family and community, were as shell shocked as we were and did not know exactly where point us. And when support was provided we, my son (then 6yo) and/or I, were not ready or willing.
ARE YOU CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT?
You may not even be carrying this particular weight – the need to forgive yourself – but I did. And sometimes, even 14 years later, I still do.
If even once, you’ve whispered to yourself that you “should have been awake” or that you “wished you would have come straight home” or spend time longing to turn back the clock and change that last argument into something far more amicable, unifying and loving, it may be time to forgive you.
It is so painful to lose your love. To swim in the suffering of grief and pain that affects the way you think, the way food tastes and whether you can even conceive of clinging to any hope. It changes everything you’ve ever known about living and loving. And in surviving the loss and actively mourning, we can pick up additional weights, and begin condemning ourselves for things out of our control.
Taking a more honest, real look at myself – less groomed and more open to my blindspots – gave me permission to see where I was thriving and where I was still starved for healing and growth. It was clear…
I hated parts of myself for how I handled (or didn’t handle) being widowed.
YOU MAY NEED TO BE FORGIVEN…BY YOU.
I’ve not found it difficult to realize that my backpack becomes heavier with pain. The loss, the things people say with the best of intentions, the having to figure things out on my own. I do have a hard time admitting that blame, shame and chiding at my own hands put the extra, unnecessary weight. Ridiculing myself for not being better prepared, not responding graciously to people’s comments, not making time to learn how to do all the things he did for our family.
It wasn’t until I began calling it what it really was – shame, self-hatred and really a dislike for myself – that I saw my need. Identifying what it was doing to me – causing me to hide my authentic self and trying to change myself on the surface to be pleasing to people who didn’t really care to understand or help. This is when I began to realize that I could and needed to forgive myself.
I don’t exactly know what you might need to forgive yourself for, but consider that you may need forgive yourself, even if just a little bit. Un-forgiveness of ourselves and others can dig deep roots. When our roots are untended to – fed by bitterness, anger and resentment of ourselves – un-forgiveness rots us. It can take years to recover.
There is no handbook sweet one. No exactly perfect, painless, sensical way to walk through the deeply intense pain.
IT’S OKAY TO FORGIVE YOU TODAY.
Consider forgiving yourself for ever wishing you’d handled it differently. Or for withholding your real feelings to appease others. This was my greatest weight, I’ve carried it for over a decade and am still fighting to unpack this one. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for doing exactly what you said you would “never” do and then doing it anyway, twice.
Grace is for you. And there is plenty of it.
Today’s the day. Give yourself permission. Make margin in your soul by beginning (or continuing) to forgive YOU.