How do you make yourself feel better when you've done something that goes against your belief system? Even if all your friends say, "Hey you did the right thing," or "You apologized so it's okay," how do you deal with the shame of knowing that you have failed yourself? Sure, your loved ones probably won't think much less of you, because they understand that we all fail sometimes, and they forgive you without a second thought. But how do you forgive yourself?
My own advice to someone asking this would be, "Don't dwell on the past because you can't change that. You can only change the future." Easy to say, harder to do. I have a lot of regrets in my life - things I've done, things I've said, people I've hurt, people I've ignored, things I've forgotten, things I can't forget. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with the person I was in my twenties. I don't like that girl very much. But it's been my practice to say that regret is a useless emotion and if I hadn't been that girl, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. Saying that only works, though, when I'm proud of the woman I am today.
And today I am not proud of the woman I am today. Today. This very day. I am not proud of the Julia from this 24hr period. I said something to someone that was fueled by rage and hurt, and it was in turn hurtful. Apologies, though given, did not fix it and in fact damaged the relationship irreparably. Someone asked why the person I hurt was hurt at all, when I only spoke the truth. I said,
"One man's truth is another man's attack. No good was going to come out of posting something so filled with rage on his page. I could have approached it calmly, in private, telling him I found it hurtful, and it could have been resolved peacefully once it was determined that the post in question wasn't intended to represent his feelings about [the incident] at all. Instead I chose to take the antagonistic route. That's on me. Life lessons, I guess."
That is the truth. I didn't have to act the way I did. How can I preach words of love, compassion, and understanding, and then act without those very things? I failed the test. When it came down to it, I didn't have what it took to be the person I want to be. And I am so filled with shame for it. I took the day off work to reflect on my behavior and to spend time with family in a constructive, loving environment. That sounds really "hippy," but there's something about the unconditional love from a toddler and the love of someone who knows everything about you - good and bad alike - that is healing. And today I need healing. I need love, kindness, and compassion. I need to forgive myself, and to take my own words to heart. Every moment is another chance to begin anew. Even though I keep failing, keep messing up, keep losing friends, I do help people. I do fix things. I do make new friends to help heal the broken pieces in my heart.
I am not a ruined person. I am just human. If there were no shame, there would be no growth.
Today I will forgive and love myself for being human.