When is the last time you forgave yourself? Personally, I’ve been pretty hard on myself for my mistakes. I am now in my mid-thirties. I was married for over a decade. I made a lot of mistakes in that decade which I had yet to forgive myself for until recently. I am sure I’m not the only one who got married too young; not the only one who acted from the heart instead of from the mind. I married a woman I was very much enamored with when I was twenty. Quite honestly, I was in love with her. She was everything I was looking for. But what I didn’t realize at the time is, she was not what I needed, much less was I what she needed. Regardless, we persisted. We pushed. We rebelled. We got married. Had I paid attention I would have known; she wasn’t ready to be married. She had changed from living with her parents to living with me, and never had the chance to grow up and know what she wanted out of life.
I know now though, I say that as a scapegoat, because I never had the chance to grow up either. Pressures of money and multiple facets of social expectations progressed our relationship forward in ways I don’t think either of us intended or desired. As I said, I made a lot of mistakes during that time, but the biggest mistake I made was not speaking up when I needed to most. She was very strong willed and I, at the time, was not good at standing up for myself or what I knew was right; especially in relationships. Instead of standing my ground when I knew I needed to, I would quickly concede or simply give up to avoid an unpleasant encounter. In doing this, I was essentially lying to her and to myself. I allowed myself to suffer in order to maintain a relationship that was frankly unhealthy for both of us. As a result, we both coped and adapted in ways that were the epitome of pouring salt in an open wound.
Over the past few years, since she and I parted ways, I have been growing and learning about myself in many ways. One of the most significant of those, however, is I have recognized a fear-based habit I have of self-inflicted emotional suffering. Essentially, I allow a fear of the unknown to keep me in a position that “could be worse” because of a slight risk things could be worse! That’s like stabbing yourself in the arm with a knife repeatedly and justifying it to yourself by considering, “Well, it could be bullets tearing through my flesh instead, so I’ll just keep stabbing.” Yes, it could be bullets tearing through your flesh, OR you could put the knife down and go see a fucking doctor! Being a creator of martyrdom through suffering only makes you the worst kind of saint; the kind who thinks they are saving lives, while in reality destroying them. This can be done through multiple types of relationships, financial burdens we refuse to live without, destructive behaviors we hold on to as defense mechanisms, and the list goes on I’m sure…
The point here is, self-imposed suffering does not save you from greater suffering. Find the things in your life which perpetuate stress, anguish, and stagnation, and remove them, then forgive yourself for the time and energy you spent causing pain for yourself and others. You have no excuse for doing otherwise. If you could remove one of these things from your life tomorrow, what would it be?