It's time to forgive yourself

 
 

Do you find that it's so much easier to forgive other people than it is to forgive yourself? 

Greg and I were chatting recently about university - we both had very different experiences. He is still in touch with many of his uni friends, I lost touch with mine pretty quickly after graduation, something that was a very conscious decision on my part.

It's not that I didn't want their friendships, it's more than I wanted a clean break. A chance to leave behind the shame I was feeling.

You see, I was (am) a girl from a North-East industrial town who never quite managed to fit in fully at school. Whilst most of my classmates were spending their weekends drinking Cider in the park, I was happier to be at church or listening to music in my bedroom with my best friend. Something which I was teased for constantly. 

I never questioned whether I was going to go to university or not, it was my ticket to a wider world. I was going to leave at the earliest opportunity and there would be no looking back. So, off I went to study Archaeology. 

Here's the very raw truth: University was not a good experience for me. 

I was taken from my insular life 'up north' and catapulted into a melting pot of personalities, backgrounds, and attitudes. And at that tender age of 18, when I should have been discovering myself, I was instead trying to hide her. 

I so desperately wanted to fit in, and I was convinced that I wasn't good enough. And here comes the real, vulnerable, truth that I'm actually a little afraid to put out there... the next 4 years of my life were a complete lie. 

I was so sure that if anyone knew who I really was, I would be the outsider again. So I made up stories to try and impress. I became who I thought other people wanted me to be. I quickly dropped my northern accent when someone told me it sounded 'common'. I was continually looking for validation from others, and I lived with a constant fear of being 'found out' which made me paranoid.  If I thought for one second that someone was figuring out the real me, I'd create a drama to make myself seem more interesting again. 

It was exhausting. And it was inevitable that I couldn't keep up the pretense. Things began to unravel, friends began to drift away. The shame and guilt of who I had become were a heavy burden. So when I left uni I was grateful to have a fresh start, but that parcel of shame was carried with me wherever I went. 

Over the years since graduation, I've slowly peeled back all the layers and returned home to who I am at my core. I've learned to be comfortable with who I am, and I care less about what other people think. But I realised recently that I've never fully forgiven myself for that period of my life.

I've still been living under a cloud of guilt and shame, and embarrassment - because I had refused to properly acknowledge it.

You see, If we try to forgive ourselves for something without releasing the underlying emotion or belief we’ve attached to it, the forgiveness just doesn’t take.

 

So how do we really forgive ourselves?

We sit with the emotion. 

I spent a couple of hours alone with my journal and let it all out. I cried, I felt deep shame, but I sat with it. I didn't let myself brush it aside - I let myself feel it until it passed. And then I released it. 

I can honestly say now that I am grateful for my time at university because it forced me to explore who I am at my core and deepen my relationship with myself.

And, I choose to forgive myself.

What do you need to forgive yourself for? 

 

 

Gemma Sands