“As forgiving ourselves is concerned, he wrote, If god forgives us we must forgive ourselves. otherwise it is like setting ourselves as a higher tribunal than him” (CS Lewis)
Psalm 32:5 “Finally, I confessed my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, I will confess my rebellion to the Lord. And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
I go to the Lord today and ask him once again for forgiveness for all my sin and rebellion some are new transgressions, some are the same old ones that I must confess again and again. Maybe I purged, restricted, or looked upon the body he fearfully and wonderfully made with disgust. I still reach for all those parts of the eating disorder he calls me to turn over when I should be reaching out to him. He is happy with me on the days I reach out to him for strength and allow his perfect love to cast out all fear. He also forgives me on the days I falter, but I find it difficult to forgive myself. Who am I to think I am in a position higher than my God and with hold this forgiveness? Is it because I literally keep bringing up the same sins as I purge; bringing up my food? Is it that because I with hold nourishment from my body that I then feel I can’t receive grace and take in forgiveness? Is it that I sometimes still lose the will to fight and speak of wanting to live, but not like this?
Today I sit in my therapist office feeling the sting of her words almost like those of my mother when she would constantly remind me of the hurt I inflicted upon my sister when I wasn’t there for my niece’s birth even as we were both long over it. My sister had forgiven me and in this case, I had forgiven me.
Today, however, I am feeling nothing but guilt, shame and frankly a little bit of irritation as Laura brings up, once again……how my suicidal ideation has greatly wounded my sons especially Mitch, more than I could possibly fathom since he witnessed me falling into a screaming, crying, angry heap. The guilt and shame begin to churn inside the caldron of my soul bubbling to the surface. Then she moves onto the damage and pain I have inflicted and continue to inflict on Kurt each time I fall into talking of not wanting to live like this. Bubble, bubble!! She reminds me of the deep scars left on my family. Bubble, bubble, bubble!!! And then how the rings of damage move outward touching my sister, my niece, Kelsey, and friends. Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble!!!! My caldron is now a red hot rolling boil of guilt, shame and pain. I think to myself “Why is she bringing this up again? And what the fuck am I supposed to do now!” I think I have addressed this issue with my family, but I guess she feels like I need to do more, but what? I know it isn’t in her character to say this to wound me, but I feel cut to the bone.
I remind myself and Laura that I didn’t WANT to die, I just didn’t want to live in physical pain and mental torment. Why? Why is this mental illness my fault? I didn’t ask for the Eating Disorder to be hardwired into my brain. I didn’t ask to sink into the depressive thoughts. I need to fix all of this and wondering how to do this eats away at me for days.
I ponder calling Laura, Rich or Jill, but decide I am a big girl with a good head, that isn’t always crazy, on my shoulders. I go to God and pray about it instead. He will lead me if I am still and listen. I am tired of running to others to stop me from failing or telling me what to do. I don’t want or need anyone’s approval to day except God’s. How will I ever learn to trust God and myself if I don’t step out on my own?
I spend the day in the solitude of my garden and my thoughts. I plant the flowers in the best positions for them to get the right amount of sun and water them in so they will grow and fill in just the way I envision. All the while I am thinking about the thought and care I put into these flowers to see the beauty of their blooms; my heart is breaking as I think about the seeds of fear and despair I have planted in my family’s mind as well as the ones that I have scattered among the other’s that love me. I wonder how much I have continued to water and feeds these seeds allowing them to flourish. (Why does she have to keep bringing this up?) In the moment I am sure it is to torture me!
I understand that I have rung a bell and can’t un-ring it, but what if I can place my hand on it to lessen the vibration? I picture someone playing the hand bells and the way they place them back down onto the soft surface to stop or dampen the vibration.
I am riddled with guilt and fear for my family, particularly Mitch. He saw the ugliest parts of me, and I saw him drive back to college sobbing and shaking in fear. I did this to him! What kind of mother am I? I feel an intense need to check in with him again, but is this the right thing to do? How many times do I have to go to him and the rest for forgiveness? Is it for my peace of mind or his? I decide it is both of us. My Phone rings just as I was thinking of calling him. “Hi Mom, it’s Mitch!” “Really Honey, not only do I have caller ID, but I know the sound of your voice.” We both chuckle. I ask him about his job interview, take a deep breath, and say a silent prayer. I check in with him about the tirade he witnessed over a year ago. I ask him what his feelings were about my suicidal talk and what they are today. ” Mom, I was terrified, sad and very worried. I feel like you are in a better place so I don’t worry as much, but I still worry. You know…I guess I love you” I can tell from the lilt in his voice that he is now messing with me. “I am sorry for burdening you this way. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I want you to know that I am in a better place. I also want you to know that if you ever need to talk to me about this, it is fair game. It is fair for you to be angry, sad, and resentful because of my words and actions. If you ever want to talk to a therapist just send me the bill.” “Really mom, I am okay,” He says, “But a trip to The Atlantis would help!” Ah, I love his humor and I take that as a cue that he is finished talking about this. I hope I have dampened the ringing of this bell for him.
I tell Kurt about my conversation with Mitch. He doesn’t understand why I want to go back and revisit such a terrible time in our lives, and he quotes Joel Olsteen about focusing on the positive. This shuts me down. Then he tells me how he used to walk in the door phone in hand ready to dial 911. ” I am so sorry! That is really all I wanted to say to say to you and make sure that you are ok and that we are ok. I know it was months ago, but my recent cut on my arm has caused you concern. It was to relieve emotional pain, not to take my life.” I try to reassure him that I praise God daily for the blessing he is in my life. “I love you so deeply and try to fathom that you love me as deeply. I am more in love with you today than the day we married. Can you hear that and believe that? You are more than good enough for me. My thoughts of dying had everything to do with me and not wanting to put you and our family through my pain and suffering.” I believe that is how anyone who is suicidal must feel, or they wouldn’t take there own life. In some twisted way we think we are sparing ourselves and loved ones pain, when really we create pain that one never overcomes.
I ask Kurt to forgive me and if he is okay one last time. He nods and I begin to weep. “I am so very sorry. Every day I work so fucking hard to do all the right things in recovery, taking care of the nerve by doing my PT, and sometimes I just mess up. I can’t do it all perfectly! As much as I want to; I can’t.” “Like the miscarriage?” He says. “Yep,” I say “It still hurts, but I have forgiven you. And I understand that you can forgive me, but it still hurts.”
It is with these words that I ask if we can forgive ourselves. Maybe it is time for me to take a step down and let God be God and since he has forgiven me and my family has forgiven me, perhaps it is time to forgive myself.