Forgiving myself is so much harder than it sounds. It’s something I am working on, but haven’t been able to do. Yet.
Whenever someone else apologizes to me and asks for my forgiveness, I normally find it easy to forgive them.
Especially if they explain in their apology that they did not intend to hurt me.
Perhaps even adding that they did not know at the time that it would be hurtful. Of course, I will forgive them.
Then why can’t I give myself that same courtesy? Why can’t I forgive myself for past mistakes?
Why I’m unable to forgive myself
I made a lot of bad decisions in the past. Young and dumb is not really an adequate reason.
My decisions caused a lot of pain for other people. Especially my children. The very people I believed I’d never hurt. The three people I believe I’d easily give my life for.
Yet I made decisions that directly hurt them. I could not see how deeply I was hurting them at the time. Still not an excuse.
Although my decisions may have seemed selfish, I did not feel as if I was being selfish when I made those choices.
However, the initial decision to divorce their dad is not the most difficult thing for me to forgive myself for… no, it’s the choices after that.
Innocent lies to protect my children
Is it ever ok to lie to your children? We tell innocent little white lies to them consistently in their early childhood.
We falsely lead our young innocent children to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy. We don’t give those little lies a second thought.
Knowing our children will quickly grow up to understand we lied about those imaginary characters, we still play along with traditions.
So is it wrong to lie by omission or tell small lies to our children when we feel they are too young to understand the harsh truths of life?
Forgiving myself for the truth
When I divorced their dad it wasn’t plain and simple. I didn’t want a divorce, but I was so devastated and broken. He had cheated on me. I couldn’t mentally get past it.
However, after the divorce he didn’t just step out of my life, he didn’t stay involved with the kids. He didn’t come to see them or get them for visitations.
Their dad’s disappearance from their lives devastated the kids. They even felt it was their fault.
That just would not do! I could not have my children feeling that way. The small lies began. I defended that man in every way I possibly could. I built him up to be a much better man than he was.
I continually assured my children that he loved them as much as always. I told them he wanted to come and see them, and he would as soon as he possibly could.
In my own words, out of my own mouth, I professed to those kids how the divorce was all MY fault. That their dad didn’t want the divorce and I had hurt him so badly he just couldn’t come around me yet.
Pouring salt in the wound
Those lies continued, the kids grew older and eventually, their dad wanted back into their lives.
He returned with a new wife and daughter. The wife was the very woman he had originally cheated on me with.
My children started going to visit their dad and new step-mom. I suppose I should be glad they have their dad back in their lives.
But even now as my kids are grown and have known their step-mom for 18 years or more, it’s like pure acid over an open wound for me. Especially when they talk about what a wonderful “mom” she is to them.
I was weak
Mostly I wish I could forgive myself for being weak. If I had been stronger, or perhaps not have loved him so deeply, then his first betrayal would not have destroyed me so completely.
Too many “ifs” to look back at now. But my weakness at that point is my true regret.
Had I not been so weak I could have fought for my family, for my kids, and my marriage.
Oh sure, if I hadn’t divorced him I may never have forced him to be faithful to me. However, if I hadn’t divorced him or set him free then at least my kids would have not had a broken home. Daddy would have still been coming home to them at night.
That’s why I have trouble forgiving myself. Not for what I lost, or what I may have done to their dad, but for all the hurt my children suffered because of their own parents.
Yet the blame actually belongs as much if not more on their dad and I’m the one that feels the guilt. He certainly doesn’t. He refuses to even apologize to his children for anything.
I honestly wonder what it’s like to live with a guilt-free conscience.
Shernie aka Momma