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This Is The Work Blog by Alex J Brown
  • Writer's pictureAlex J Brown

You Have To Forgive Yourself

I’ve been at an impasse for a few months now. For those of you who do "the work," you know what I’m talking about. That precipice, that uncomfortable space that you hate to be in, but it’s inevitable, because you’ve thrust yourself in the way of self-discovery, no matter the cost. It’s a tipping point. There you are, on the brink of something. If only you could make it over. But how?

Think, think, think.

For me, it’s not one cold hard truth that hits suddenly and knocks me on my ass. It’s a series of stumbling blocks, awkward and unpredictable, that send me tripping through truths until I end up wiser. Then, I rise up again, dust myself off, reflect upon my new learning, and figure out how the hell I’m going to apply it to my life. Sometimes I do apply it, sometimes I don’t. If I choose the latter, you best believe those same blocks are showing up again later, equally awkward and unpredictable, if not more so. The point is, I always have a choice.

Something has been swirling around for a long time now, but it feels more like everything - it’s all connected after all, isn’t it? As I begin to chip away at it, I’m seeing all of this old guilt, my scrapbook of transgressions, page after page. It’s festering there, neglected, a pile of messes I’ve made. I’m not the same person I used to be. I’ve hurt people I care about. I’ve made careless mistakes. I’ve left bridges burned. I started many of those fires. I didn’t know the things I know until I knew them, and there were plenty of hard lessons. But I’m better now...aren’t I?

The thing is, being “better now” doesn’t make me feel vindicated. I crawl around my imperfect past and if I dig too deeply, I start to wonder if I’m just faking it now, because clearly what I did then is in me. Did I simply bury it? Will it resurface again under the right (or wrong) conditions? Am I good? Am I good enough? Inevitably, the answer to the last two questions is yes, but it’s funny how you can know something and not always believe it.

You have to forgive yourself.

I’ve found myself accepting less than I deserve because of the times I’ve given others less than they deserve. An eye for an eye. All the while, I’ve been traveling down this road toward self-acceptance, running into the same old road blocks. Those unsavory bits of my history that I’d rather run from than acknowledge, thinking if I just do enough good now, I can leave that mess of a person behind.

I have to pay my dues...don't I?

You have to forgive yourself.

But, oh, have I missed something? Have I skipped a step? Did I think I’d get away with this? That person is me, or at least part of me, and I’ve come to hate her. I hate her and her mistakes so much that I’ve tried to suffocate her, get rid of her once and for all. And when she resurrects herself, shows up at my doorstep and takes up my headspace, I kick and scream, anything to deny her existence.

You have to forgive yourself.

I’m seeing it all a little more clearly now. All the while I’ve been trying to love myself. But I can’t. Or I can’t fully. Because there’s this part of myself that I’ve denied and suffocated and judged and rejected over and over and over again. There’s a part of me that I hate.

And lo and behold, if I can’t love her, I can’t love me. She and I are inextricably linked, we have lived together, and we will die together.

I have to forgive myself.

I don’t exactly how. I don’t know the steps, and there is no manual for this. What I know is that I have to start. And my intuition tells me that it begins with letting her take up the space, believing that she has something to teach or tell me. She and I need to sit down and exchange words. She and I need to hash it out. No shame, no ego, no defenses.

I have to forgive myself.

Okay, Universe. I hear you. I know what I have to do. I know it will teach me something. I know I’m ready to take this next step into who I want to be, and I know she’s coming with me. So I’m going to get real intimate with her. I’m going to be with her for as long as I need to, until I can find her humanity, until I can know she did the best she could. I always have a choice. I have to choose to see the best in her. She is good enough.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted, but for now all I can say is the intention is set, which usually means there are more hard lessons right around the corner.

Stay tuned.


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