Today I really want to help someone with how to forgive yourself. Keep reading for 6 ways to aid in forgiving yourself.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to really sit down and write. It’s not because I don’t enjoy it anymore, it’s more because I think I’ve been experiencing writer’s block. Since getting pregnant for the 4th time in 2020, I feel like I was led to move away from the forefront and take a step back to relax, focus on myself, and focus on growing our now, beautiful 6 month old baby boy. But now, I finally feel like I’m in a comfortable place now to write.
One thing that has been on my heart lately is forgiveness. But not in the sense that you’re thinking. I’m not talking about forgiving others that have hurt you or done you wrong (not that it’s not equally as important), but I’m talking about something that I know we all struggle with: to forgive yourself.
That popular saying that “you’re your own worst enemy,” or, “you’re your biggest critic.” They aren’t just clichés. They actually tend to be very true. I know for me personally I sometimes struggle with beating myself down, especially over past mistakes. Torturing myself with guilt, I have tendencies to ponder about what “could’ve” happened, what “should’ve” happened, and what “would’ve” happened. I know we’ve all been there, but I go there and tend to stay there for extended periods of time. I’m about to tell you one of the biggest things I’ve struggled to forgive myself for, something no one knows aside from my husband. And I’m also going to list 6 important steps to make toward helping you to forgive yourself.
Be warned: this blog post could be triggery for some people.
Click here if you’d rather skip the backstory and get straight to the steps to forgive yourself
January 27th, 2019, at exactly 6:30am, was the first time I had ever seen a 2nd line on a pregnancy test. It was probably the most exciting day in my life, only after getting married to my husband.
You’re probably thinking How does she even remember those exact details so specifically. . . Honestly I’m just the type of person who likes to document every special moment in my life. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
We had already been trying for 6 months, with no luck might I add. It was beginning to feel like it would never happen. I know that’s really pessimistic thinking, but being only 20 years old, I never expected it would take more than a month. Wishful, and very naive, thinking.
I was so sick – not with the flu, but a very bad cold. Couldn’t breathe, coughing everywhere, sneezing, fever, the whole nine. I was absolutely miserable. At the same time though, I was just so happy to be pregnant.
Fun fact – I have gotten sick literally every single time I’ve ever been pregnant. It’s actually a telltale sign for me being pregnant. Another fun fact – pregnancy suppresses your immune system so that your body doesn’t reject the baby. This also makes you more prone to catching illness. It doesn’t happen for every pregnant woman, but it happened for this pregnant woman each and every time.
Anyways, I was sick and it felt like the plague, no joke.
I made a horrible decision not long after finding out that I was pregnant with our first child. Now, this may not seem like a huge deal to some, and for others you may be thinking to yourself what was she thinking? And it really just depends on the type of person you are: a person who researches everything like I do, or the person who usually makes decisions based on anecdotal evidence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m just a stickler for researching. Anyway, regardless of which one you are, I sincerely hope you won’t judge me for the decision I made.
Despite the fact that I had done extensive research on medicines that can and can’t be taken during pregnancy, I made a decision that benefited myself at the time without even truly considering the consequences, even though I knew what COULD happen. And this is what I blamed myself for every single day for over 2 years.
I decided to take a few different cold medicines to help remedy whatever I was sick with. This was at some point during the first week of February. I knew that they would put me at a higher risk of having a miscarriage, but you really just never know. I won’t say that I didn’t care, but I was so miserable that I was desperate to try anything to help myself feel better. Not too long after I took the medicine, I started experiencing excruciating cramping in my pelvis. Sometimes it took my breath away. When I Googled what could’ve been the reason for the cramping, I found that period-like cramps are mostly normal throughout pregnancy as the baby grows and the uterus stretches, that is, as long as it isn’t accompanied by leaking fluid, bleeding, strange colored discharge, etc. And at first, they weren’t.
My cramps eventually turned out to not be normal. Despite beginning to feel better after taking the cold medicines, it wasn’t too long after feeling better that everything came crashing down.
I started bleeding, and thus miscarrying, on February 13th, 2019.
Every single day since then, I felt horribly guilty. Why did I do it? How could I take the medicine? Couldn’t I have just toughed it out for a few more weeks? How could I have been so incredibly selfish? I knew the risks and took them anyway. Not only did I hurt my baby, but my husband too.
I just knew for certain that I was the reason I was miscarrying. Despite doctors telling me that it just sometimes happens, despite knowing that 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage, despite them telling me that nothing I could’ve done would’ve caused this, I didn’t believe them. I blamed myself for what happened, and up until now, no one really knew the real reason why.
It’s been a long road toward recovery and forgiving myself. I punished myself for so long. The guilt ate me up daily. It was something so heavy to carry – knowing that you’re potentially the reason why you lost your baby.
I don’t know what you’ve struggled with, but I do know that we have all been stuck in this place at least one time in our lives. You may have struggled to forgive yourself for hurting a loved one, infidelity, or just making a really bad decision. However, there are some things that may be able to help you on your journey toward forgiving yourself, regardless of what it may be that you’re feeling guilty about.
Here are 6 things that helped me to finally forgive myself and move on:
Admit your wrongs (or what you’re feeling guilty about) – out loud
It’s not ever an easy thing to do – openly acknowledging your mistakes out loud. Not only can it feel uncomfortable and awkward talking to yourself, by yourself, but honestly it quite often makes you cringe. Similarly to opening up to a friend or even a professional, saying out loud what you’ve done wrong can be mentally and emotionally freeing. It can truly help to lift the burden.
Realize that there is nothing that you can do to change the past
I think this one was a really hard one for me. Like I said, I’m a huge “could’ve,” “would’ve,” “should’ve,” person. I dwell in the past a lot, and it isn’t healthy. It took serious effort from me (as well as prayer) to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing I could do to change what I had done, regardless of it it truly caused my miscarriage (which I now know it didn’t), or not. I learned from my mistakes and will be more careful about the decisions I make next time if I’m ever faced with that type of situation again.
Quiet that inner voice in your head
That annoying voice in our heads that constantly criticizes every ounce of our being, the one that makes us feel terribly guilty, days, weeks, months, and even years after fact, the one that is very hard to just ignore? Silence it, right away. It’s easier said than done, but once you put that voice in its place, forgiving yourself just becomes that much easier.
Write about it
It took me a long time to realize that writing is something I’m passionate about. I’ve always been a good writer growing up. I made straight A’s in my writing classes throughout my time in school. But it wasn’t until experiencing loss that I realized that writing is an important outlet for me. Sharing my story has been an amazing coping mechanism for me. Not just the fact that it’s helped me to connect with others, but it’s allowed me to truly analyze what I’m feeling – the good and the bad.
I haven’t always had someone to talk with about the guilt and shame I’ve felt over the past few years since experiencing loss. Writing about it was always an option though, whether I decided to share it with the world or just meditate on what I’ve written, alone. Things you may be unable to express out loud, you may have an easier time shuffling through those feelings after you’ve written them down. Sometimes even our thoughts can be so jumbled up and scrambled that it’s impossible to truly decipher our true feelings by simply thinking about them. This is why writing may help.
Look to God
I really had to seek God during that time. It was hard because not only was I angry with myself, but I was also angry with God. Over time, seeking God became my main source of comfort during that time. I finally began to realize that blaming myself was not going to help me to move forward from that trauma. If anything, it kept me in that dark place. I couldn’t see a way out, so I began praying to God that He would help me to stop feeling so guilty. I even asked God for forgiveness for anything I had done to cause my miscarriage. Surely if God could forgive me, I could forgive me. It was not an overnight feat. It took at least 2 years and a hundred separate prayer sessions to finally stop feeling this way.
Seek Professional Help
I’m speaking to myself too, especially on this one. While I haven’t opened up about it on this blog, I have sought out professional help in the past for my bouts of depression in college. A lot of people don’t believe in professional help. The phrase “thug it out” comes to mind when I think about said people. But we’ve really got to start taking mental health more seriously as a whole. Sometimes it’s not possible to just thug it out and pretend until it gets better. If you find yourself seriously struggling, if you feel like you’re spiraling on a downwards trend, get help. A professional may be able to help you get to the root of the issues of why you are unable to truly forgive yourself and move on. It’s nothing to be ashamed of (and I’m speaking to myself too here).
This was a very hard post to write. I truly hope that I’ve been able to reach someone who’s been struggling with this as I have for far too long. Feel free to comment below or email me personally about something you’ve struggled to forgive yourself for.