There are many times in my life where I have forgiven others but struggled to forgive myself. I have learned that the act of forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for the individual, and when it comes to forgiving ourselves, the same should be true.
As a new single-mother, I have spent so much time beating myself up for not putting myself in a more stable position for my daughter. I found myself embracing old habits like self-doubt, pessimism, and worrying.
I felt like the choices I made in the past would impact my daughter in a negative way, so I shamed, belittled, and isolated myself because of my guilt.
About a year ago, I began opening my self-love journey by exploring forms of self-care that I had never tried. Meditation was the first thing I attempted to help me get out of my comfort zone. Overtime, I fell in love with it, and it has helped reveal my truth on how I truly feel about myself. Here is what I realized:
- I put too much pressure on myself to perfect
- I set my expectations too high instead of meeting myself where I am
- I compared myself to others
- I was not compassionate with myself
- I allowed my past choices to become my definition
- I isolated myself for fear of being judged by others
I belittled myself for my irresponsible choices and I held myself back from embracing and accepting everything that I am. I was lacking self-forgiveness.
The First Step in Self-love
I thought that the first step in self-love was self-care, but for me, I needed to begin accepting and forgiving myself. As a form of spiritual self-care, meditation has helped me face my pain and to reflect on my past choices. We all have those areas that still need healing. For me, I struggled to forgive myself for:
- not using contraception and getting pregnant a month before I graduated with my masters degree
- going through a minor-depression while pregnant
- not being financially stable when my daughter was born
- remaining in a toxic relationship in order to ‘keep the family together’
- neglecting myself in my relationship
Forgiving myself for my past choices was extremely difficult, and is something that I am still working on.
Self-love is a journey, not a destination.
I never thought that I would be an unmarried mother, struggling financially, and struggling with depression. Facing pain is never easy; it hurts and many tears are shed but is is essential in self-love. I spent so much time running from the pain and trying to hide it that I held myself back from embracing the beauty in my journey. Here are 5 ways I have been focusing on forgiving myself:
It was not easy for me to be transparent with others about my guilt and insecurity as a single-mother, but it was more difficult for me to admit it to myself. I was finally able to be transparent with myself that I was struggling with my choice to have unprotected sex while in a toxic relationship.
I was embarrassed. I felt like I should have known better than to allow myself to get pregnant before I was married, fresh out of grad school, and with minimal income.
Abortion was never an option for me, but the guilt that I carried for bringing my daughter into a world with unstable parents weighed heavy on my heart and mind.
I was able to begin talking about my struggles with others but I had to first admit it to myself. The more I started to talk about it, the stronger I felt and I feel stronger every day.
Being able to accept my past choices as a lesson and not a mistake, was and still is difficult. Many tears were shed because for the first time, I really I had to face myself.
I felt like I had to ignore my feelings to be strong for my daughter, but when I started accepting my truth I realized my true strength.
When I learned the value of loving on myself, I embraced the beauty and the pain. I was able to discover I am more than my past. The choices I made are only a part of the story and I am not a lost cause because I am an unwed single-mother. By focusing on self-acceptance, I was able to embrace my decisions and begin forgive myself for making them.
I am an advocate for self-love because I have experienced its benefits. When I decided to accept my past choices, I then became aware of who I am and why I made the choices that I made. Here is what I was struggling with before I got pregnant with my daughter:
- Insecure about my body
- Attention seeking and a fear of being alone
- Self-doubt and worry
- A lack of self-trust
I was living in a space of neglect and I was completely unaware of the pain that I was inflicting on myself.
When I became aware of my insecurities, my doubts and fears, I was able to recognize why and how I make decisions. Its important in self-love to become more aware of who you really are – to embrace it – and to make the changes necessary to not repeat bad-choices.
4. Prayer & Meditation
A few years back, I was struggling with forgiving others. I had not even thought about forgiving myself at that time, but when someone hurt me, I was quick to cut them out of my life with no sense of forgiveness. At that time, my spirituality was a distant connection that I questioned constantly. I think it’s a human reaction to have faith and to have doubts, but this was also the time that I felt the most insecure, weak-willed, and lonely, and hurt people, hurt people.
I felt empty, and I knew that God was the only one who could fill that void. By building my relationship with my source, I have been able to focus on how God forgives. I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many, and yet I always want to be forgiven. I had to ask myself, how can you expect forgiveness and are unable to forgive others?
Forgiving those who have hurt me has helped me to become more mindful in forgiving myself for hurting me.
When all is quiet, while praying and meditating, that is when I am able to have a clear head, and journey toward giving the same level of forgiveness that I expect and that God gives me.
5. Forward Motion
I am no longer ashamed to admit that I was the source of my own pain. It was my fault, and there is no shame in admitting that, but I refused to remain in a space where I am living in my shame.
The journey toward self-forgiveness requires me to keep moving forward and working to correct those choices. In order to be have self-awareness and self-acceptance I had to make self-reflection a necessity.
I had to spend a lot of time looking back on why I made certain choices, but I could no longer stay stuck looking back so that I could move forward.
Renewal is beautiful because it allows you to look back and see how far you have come but also it gives you the opportunity to embrace your decision, accept it, and to move forward in hopes of not repeating the same bad choices. “Live and learn,” key word, learn; I had to learn from my choices to give my daughter the best life I can with what I have.
I accept that I am unmarried. I accept that I am not as financially stable as I would like to be. I accept that I am doing the best that I can with what I have. I accept that I am perfectly imperfect.
Today I affirm:
I accept my choice to be a mother. It was a beautiful choice. I am a good mother no matter my relationship status.
Ta’lor L. Pinkston, The Heart Advocate