Good morning and welcome to day 8 of our dry January journaling series! Happy Saturday - I hope it's headache free :)
Today's prompt is:
"What do you need to forgive yourself for? Ask yourself if you're holding any grudges against yourself, any old mistakes that you haven't moved on from or past hurts that you're blaming yourself for."
We talked about mistakes and self trust last week and now we're going to move into a more active kind of reflection with these prompts. Some of you already got there in the comments and probably in your own journal which is perfect. I love the way we are all showing up for ourselves with this series (me included - I'm so inspired by y'all!!).
Okay so moving forwards forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. This one is so crucial. Since I am sober, I have a lot of interactions with people in recovery and there's this whole idea of making amends with every person you've wronged and listen - I get the concept but I think maybe in sobriety we should start with forgiving ourselves?
Maybe in life, instead of spending all of our time apologizing to everyone else - maybe we could forgive ourselves for not being who we thought we should?
I remember being so ashamed at my unhappiness. How dare I not be happy when I have this job and this house and these opportunities and this life? I couldn't have a drinking problem when my life is this together. I can't have low self esteem if other people celebrate me! I tried so hard to dig myself out of my depression hole, I made it 10 times deeper.
I tried to claw my way out but it was like trying to climb up mud. Enough grip to give you hope but not enough traction to lift you up.
When we refuse to acknowledge what's causing us pain, we will do everything in our power to make that pain "go away" - we will numb it, we will stuff it, and we will ignore it. Because we are so shocked that we are experiencing pain - whether in the form of sadness or anger or anxiety or whatever - we refuse to deal with the effects it's having on our life.
I remember right before I quit my job and moved home after the most anxiety filled year of my life - I was journaling, exercising, meditating, and eating smoothies every single day just trying to escape my spiraling depression and anxiety. I thought I could out perform my mental illness, I thought I could journal my way out of my debilitating pain.
But the answer was not more healing work, the answer was being honest with myself about my surroundings. Unfortunately the life I had built wasn't the answer to my problems and I wasn't happy in it anymore. My job, my home, our city - it had stopped being what I needed.
Accepting that was gut wrenching. I miss it every single day because even now, I remember what I wanted that time in my life to be. I wanted to be THAT girl who had all of the things that other people would be proud of.
But it wasn't my life. And I had to forgive myself for that. I tried so hard to make that my story but it wasn't and accepting that truth and ultimately moving forward in it was the thing that finally broke me out of my horrible anxious cycle. It wasn't the answer to all my problems but it was the answer to a lot.
I had to make some gut wrenching decisions when I chose to forgive myself. I had to forgive myself for all of my people pleasing which meant I had to stand up for myself from now on. I had to forgive myself for all of my lying to make others happy so I had to tell the truth which meant some people I loved would be sad. I had to forgive myself for not being honest with myself all of that time too so from now on, I had to validate and honor the feelings that were coming up.
All of this felt like I was spinning on one of those cups at Disney world but like maybe someone else was in charge of the speed. I felt nauseous at the idea of authentically being who I am. It didn't feel like I was allowed to be her. So I had to forgive myself for that too. For that idea that who I am isn't worthy enough to show up.
And now to truly walk in that forgiveness, I tell the truth about who I am to all of you here and on TikTok and on Instagram. Showing up shame free doesn't mean showing up perfect, it means forgiving yourself for the idea that there was ever a perfect way to begin with.
There is not a perfect way to do this life or sobriety or recovery or any of it. We have to forgive ourselves for this too. If during this month, you change the decisions you thought you would make - forgive yourself. Let yourself change.
No one has ever shamed themselves into loving themselves and no one has ever shamed themselves into sobriety.
I think a lot of people are born with this idea that if they hate themselves enough or they stay mad at their own mistakes long enough that they will just become a new person. But that's not how it works. Imagine if you watched the same episode of your favorite tv show a million times hoping for a different ending - that would be so frustrating right?
We do the same thing with our mistakes. We think if we just obsess long enough then that decision will change our life and everything will be ok. But we can't change the past, it's a re-run. We only have power over this moment.
Forgiveness is a way to get your power back. To let your heart feel a little softer and lighter knowing it's ok that we screwed up - that was then and this is now.
Here's an affirmation for ya if you're the type:
"I am thankful to make mistakes because mistakes allows me ways to practice forgiveness. Starting over is my birthright and I am allowed to do it as many times as I want."