It's time to forgive myself.
It's been a while since I published a blog post. I have in fact several unfinished ones, archived and not yet seeing the light of day. It also comes as a surprise to me now that the first blog post I decide to upload after 2 months of inactivity is not one of the archived ones, but one titled as above.
To throw in some context to this post, today marks Day 2 of my infant entrance into the corporate world. I just started my internship at a software design and engineering company. I came home today weary and exhausted, quickly took a bath, and then absentmindedly picked up The Thought Collective's Food For Thought For Our Daily Lives diary which I purchased from a friend at the start of the year. At the first page I flipped to, a quote jumped out at me:
If I can think of myself as loved, I can love and accept others. If I can see myself as forgiven, I can be gracious unto others.
It felt like a sign to me, based on all the things I've been experiencing in life. It's not that I did not know I had to love myself. Everyone has to, or should, love themselves. I just never knew how to do it. But if I scrutinise this issue hard enough, the question was never about the how at all. It was whether I allowed myself to do so. All this while, I kept telling myself I wanted to love myself, but I was always fixated on how to do it. To me, I always imagined it to be necessary concrete steps I needed to take in order to "love" myself. And that was why I always felt stuck. If I never constantly interrupt the frequently surfacing thoughts and beliefs that serve to perpetuate the "I don't love myself" notion, I am only moving further away from achieving this desire.
The crux of the matter is really about facing things head on and being completely honest with myself. I have been operating very strongly out of guilt and shame. For my friend's suicide, I never forgave myself. Even as I eventually stopped grieving and became more of my old cheerful and bubbly self again, I never truly completely forgave myself. I knew that from the beliefs I continued to have. The thoughts that still kept popping up in my mind. The feelings of pain, sadness and wretchedness I continued to have whenever I remembered this incident. Thoughts like "I knew. And because I knew, I could have stopped her", "I did not stop her. Therefore I am a bad being", "I am a bad being. And that is why people do not want to hang out with me", "No one can know this bad deed I have done", "I shall condemn myself silently like this". The "no one can see" and "no one can know" led to a lot of loneliness. It's because of thoughts like these that in the months after my friend's passing, I distanced myself from our mutual friends. It was a very conscious act on my part, something which on hindsight, I should not have done. It was a punishment to myself, that because I was a bad being, I did not deserve company and love and happiness. Also, I was too ashamed of myself to continue hanging out with them. Because they were reminders of my failure to keep her alive.
I have to add on that one very bad habit I have cultivated from young is the habit of putting the whole world on my shoulders. I am extremely generous when it comes to blaming myself for things that go wrong. I always feel like I had the responsibility to make sure everything went right. Anything small will unhinge the perfect order of things. And these glitches will be my fault. All these blaming was also feedback to myself that I did not love myself. Because if I did, I would have told myself that it was not my fault. After all, I really can't be responsible for everything.
I am tired of bashing myself and putting myself down. The constant struggle between "you suck" and "you can be great" has left me very stranded and very exhausted. I am tired of operating out of guilt and shame. It's time to forgive myself. To keep interrupting old-formed habits and beliefs till they become smaller and smaller and fade away. This may take years, but it's time to consciously build up this new habit and fight my demons.
I am enough. Everyone has the ability to make their own choices. My friend made hers, and I could not have stopped her from doing so. I could not have physically bound her and prevented her from going anywhere and doing anything. It's just inhumanely out of the question. I'm telling myself these words now as I type this post: "She made her own choice and you had nothing to do with it. You did not kill her. You did not kill her. You did not kill her. And now I forbid you to kill yourself over this. There's too much to life than to die for something you did not choose to do."
It's time to let go. It's time to love myself.
Because of my conscious act to distance myself from people I really treasured and loved, I also lived with much regret and blame (again) for all the friendships that went wrong/stale. I always thought that the only way to forgive and love myself was to carry out the step of trying to make these friendships the way they once were again. Because if things reached a state of "normalcy", I can then redeem myself. That was how I thought. Now, I tell myself that I have to accept the result. It is the result. I also am acknowledging that those actions were what I carried out under particular circumstances in the past to help me cope, and in the only way I knew how at that point in time. Therefore, I was, and am enough. What I have done is enough, no matter if they were good or bad (based on how I perceive it). Even with my operations out of guilt and shame, I have to acknowledge that I am human and I am good enough. I redeem myself by accepting results and by forgiving myself.
There is nothing more to it.
Beneath the guilt and shame, there is love. And what does this love tell me? That I am a loving and caring human. This is my core.
It took me a lot of courage to type this post. It was hard for me because I always believed that "no one shall know the shameful thing I have done". I always thought that if people did, they would condemn me more than I have already condemned myself. But because I thought in this fashion, I was ironically condemning myself even more.
The reason why I decided to share my very personal story with you (perhaps a complete stranger) is not to place myself on a higher pedestal of morality. This post is to me, one which marks a significant milestone of self-acknowledgement. I share my story with you because I hope this post will impact you in a manner which is beneficial to you. I hope it encourages you to face your fears too, if you have any.
The moment I finish and publish this post does not mean I have automatically forgiven myself. Deeply-ingrained beliefs and habits are hard to get rid of. This post exists as a personal promise I make to myself to build up new, healthier habits and keep interrupting old, draining ones.
I have made the commitment to act and I hope you do too, whoever you are. Because we all should forgive and love ourselves for who we are. Forgive yourself, and give yourself a little more.