One of my therapist's that I worked with a couple years ago said something to me once that has still stuck with me to this day- and I'm still profusely working on it. "Jasmine, what is the worse thing that can come of you forgiving yourself?" That question holds such power and enormity for me that as I sit here reading over it, I feel uncomfortable. What could possibly go wrong from me forgiving myself? Will my world fall apart? Will it make all the pain any less valid? I don't think so but what if maybe it did? (hey anxiety hey, you make life a real joy:).
Forgiving myself for all the times I've starved my body, binged or purged it of all the food I had just eaten. Forgiving myself for burning my skin to feel the seething pain of that rather than the thundering pain in my head. Forgiving myself for banging my head against the wall to make the noise stop. Forgiving myself for hating every inch of my body and wishing it all away. Forgiving myself for hurting those closest to me. Forgiving myself for not telling the person I loved soon enough and losing them. Forgiving myself for feeling like death was better than living and for tempting fate so many times. Forgiving myself for all the what if's that continue to eat me alive. Forgiving myself for failing my a-levels because of my mental health. Forgiving myself for the countless things I gave up after a couple of weeks. Forgiving myself for going into something knowing full well that I shouldn't. Forgiving myself for self-destructing for months at a time.
What would happen? Maybe it would mean the pain I felt mentally and physically was never true. Maybe it would mean the love I felt for that person wasn't real. Maybe it would mean the binges, purges and days starving myself never damaged me as much as they did. It could all mean so many things but ultimately forgiving myself doesn't mean any of those things didn't happened, it means I'm no longer letting them have power of my future. That's what forgiving myself really entails, it gives me freedom from the war inside my mind. It's not letting myself be measured by my failures.
Whilst writing some poetry a few months ago, I jotted this down "you can live freely only when you forgive yourself for the mistakes you made knowingly" and I had completely forgotten about it until looking through my poetry journal the other day. It speaks to me on so many levels almost as if I wasn't the one who had strung those words together to make such a powerful sentence. I am chained down in all the mistakes I have made, some knowingly and some not, but they hold power over me nonetheless. The mistakes I continued to make despite knowing the damage they would cause me, they're the ones that eat away at me and dig deep into my core because they're the ones that matter. They're the ones I should have learnt from but kept making them until I finally realised how unhealthy they were.
Love hurts, I know that now, my goodness it is soul-destroying but does that mean I'll never fall in love again? No because I will most likely, a few more times (hopefully- hah!). Starving my body and binging physically harms me and mentally tears me apart but does that mean I'll never do it again? No because recovery isn't this straight line that I will always follow, it is up and down, just like life. Depression is painful and causes you to question your worth on this planet which means I will most likely tempt with fate again. But that doesn't mean I won't fight like hell. Life is freaking hard, I probably make a least 5 mistakes a day in different aspects of my life but do they define me? I used to think they did but no, my mistakes no matter how big or small do not define the person that I am.
Forgiving myself doesn't only mean forgetting my past mistakes, it means letting go. Letting go of the hold they have over me, letting go of the power they contain and letting go of the guilt they manifest. Thinking of letting go physically makes my heart ache for all the painful memories those mistakes consist of, as if letting them go means they no longer matter or happened. But they do, my pain whether present or past will always matter. It's okay to cry over things that happened over a year ago, to cry for a recovery that was less than perfect, to cry for a love that never quite made it, to cry for a body that never felt good enough, to cry for a mind that tortured itself to physical harm. It's ok, all of it, every single tear and feeling.
How can I let go of the things that I have let define me for so long? How can I let go of the things that still cause my heart to bleed? Maybe there is no definitive way that we let go of these moments and feelings. Maybe it's in the process of searching how to let go, we realise we no longer need to hold on. Maybe it's a never-ending cycle that we need to constantly work at. Maybe it's waking up each day and not letting today be another day of living in the shadow of past mistakes.
I've let my heart ache and my tears flow the last few days so today I am choosing forgiveness over pain ridden with guilt. Today I am choosing to love myself despite the many reasons I could think of not to. Today I am choosing to define my worth with more than the mistakes I have made. Today I choose forgiving and letting go. I hope you will, too.
Hey there, I'm Jasmine, your average 23 year old working in childcare and living in England. Maybe Tomorrow follows my journey living with mental health issues and multiple chronic health conditions, all whilst trying to have some fun along the way.
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