Learning to forgive is something that is instilled in us from childhood. We’re told to “forgive and forget” in order to come to terms with the blemishes others may leave on your life. Though I don’t personally believe in the forget aspect because to me every hardship or set back you experience allows us to learn something by forgiving. And why would you want to forget a lesson learned?
Forgiveness is a double-sided arrow as it is something you grant others as well as something you grant yourself. Learning to forgive yourself is as crucial to your personal growth as forgiving others is. It’s not always easy to forgive yourself because it’s not always easy to admit you gave it your best and it still was not enough.
I learned to forgive myself after I realized I had brought a child into this world who would never have that chance at normalcy that most other kids are born with. She would never have that Mom, Dad family or that two-parent household because Ava was being raised by a single mom. Ava’s father and I split when she was two years old after realizing we had ended up on different paths in life. At first the reality didn’t phase me much because I felt that all the love and support I was giving her was more than enough. It wasn’t until she began school and there was “parents night” and “fathers day lunch” that I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt.
It occurred to me that if I noticed these things other people, mainly other kids, would as well. I wondered what would happen when kids asked her where her dad was or why she didn’t see him often. My biggest fear however is that she would in some way be mad at me for the life she was born into. I constantly over compensated to try and ease my mind; the guilt would keep me up at night. It wasn’t that I felt I was a bad mom or I wasn’t capable, it was that I had her while I was still young myself and she would have to grow with me instead of just reaping the rewards of it later in life.
It took me a long time to grant myself that sense of forgiveness I needed to keep progressing. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a family friend who asked me would it have been fair to Ava to let her grow up seeing me settle? Seeing me settle for a relationship that was toxic to me, settle for not graduating college and then in turn have Ava feel that I was unhappy because I gave up everything for her. I had never thought of it that way and it made me realize several things about the people around me who had in the past admitted they’d settled for things. I didn’t want Ava to feel settling was okay or that you had to give up on yourself when you felt the slightest bit of defeat.
I forgave myself for not giving Ava that “cookie cutter” family and for having her walk with me along my journey to success. It occurred to me for the first time that maybe her seeing me reach my goals despite the obstacles I faced would be motivation for her that I would be able to show her and not just tell her in the future. Finally I forgave myself because I knew I was capable of more and that no matter what hand I was dealt, I would let the cards fall where they may. Instead of accepting defeat or succumbing to my own guilt, I powered through it because your past does not define your future it is merely another brick in the foundation of your life.