Forgiveness is not something that always comes easily. Depending on the act that was committed or the words that may have been said, forgiveness can take days, months, even years in some circumstances. Webster’s defines forgiveness as the act of ceasing to feel resentment against. Simple enough one would think, yet what if that resentment one may feel is against themselves. Often times we hold ourselves more accountable then we may others and therefore the act of forgiving ourselves can be an even harder chore to tackle.
This week’s “Truth” is :
#3 – Something you need to forgive yourself for.
I will say that in earlier times in my life I was one who would take the blame for almost everything; something that I am not too proud to admit now. Yet as time has progressed and I have evolved or at least attempted to evolve, I have tried to not be so hard on myself. This simple act has helped me tremendously in growing as a human. Many years back not long after my divorce (1997) I read a book that would change my life forever: The Portable Coach by Thomas Leonard. I will be honest and say that I do not remember everything about the book yet 2 points stick out clearly still in my mind. One was the act of becoming incredibly selfish and the other was to tolerate nothing.
I was the kind of person at this time and before that both of these traits were far from anywhere in my life, yet the mere fact that I found it so difficult to do either meant that if I could do either even slightly it would make a world of difference for me. Thus, my transformation began. Yet what does this have to do with needing to forgive myself for anything you may ask. Nothing really except for the effect that it had on me in the manner of taking the blame for way more than I needed to which in turn helped me to start building myself up as a stronger and more balanced woman.
Over the years there have been things that I have chosen to do which after the fact I have rethought and wondered if they were the best choice for me. Yet one thing I learned some time ago was not to over second guess my decisions. They are decisions that have been made and the ability to go back and possibly change the outcome that came from them at the time they were made is in most cases close to impossible. Yes one can see the possible result of such decisions and in turn start at that time to go in a different direction yet the damage is usually already started and if a detour is needed it usually takes some time to get back on a clear and clean path.
Although there was an event in my life about 7 years ago that I have had a difficult time letting go and not blaming myself for in some way. I will start out this story by saying that this is extremely personal and on normal circumstances I usually do not openly share such things in such a open venue. Yet when I started this truth venture I promised myself that I would write whatever I felt led to write about. I have always had a strong belief that sometimes our experiences in life (good and bad) are meant to be shared so that others can glean from them what they may need. I know I have been given much comfort in the honesty of others. In saying that... Here is my story.
Without making this into what could easily become a novel size story I am going to condense some of the pre story. I have a feeling that with the fact that there are to be 30 truths that some of it will get filled in as the weeks pass by and other questions are answered.
In the fall of 2003 I was blessed with the news that I was with child. I will say that the fact that I was just about to turn 42 had me quite on edge when I realized that I would soon be raising a small child and that when that child turned 18 I would be the ripe old age of 60. What scared me even more was the fact that I was single and the father was not exactly in a place where he was eager to share my excitement. When I verified that indeed I was to have a baby, I kept the news to myself for the first few weeks.
Almost immediately I was joyful at the knowledge even though I was terrified at the same time. I had always enjoyed my time during pregnancy with my other three children and although I did not know what in the world I was going to do, I could not help but feel giddy and almost young again. Because of my age I went to a doctor soon after I knew for sure as I knew that my age could have some effect on everything. I really did not worry about it too much as I was never one to have any problems in any of my other pregnancies.
After I had taken care of the medical side of things, I prepared myself to tell my family the news. I knew that telling others would be difficult as here I was single and much older. All sorts of things raced through my head as to what they would think of me and how they would view me from that time forward. Yet the ones who worried me the most were my children. Telling them I knew would be the most difficult task of all. One by one I told those close to me; my mother, my sister, my boss and friends at work and yes my children.
I remember my oldest son being somewhat excited and even protective of me in regards to the baby’s father and his responsibility in the whole ordeal. Their acceptance of the event helped me tremendously and the more open I was with the pregnancy the better I felt. I was even to the point that I was glowing or so I liked to think I was. All those feelings from pregnancy that you get, the cravings, the feeling down deep in your tummy, they were all there and I could not help but be excited. I had had an initial ultrasound and all was ok. They were treating the pregnancy somewhat as a high risk due to my age and another ultrasound was scheduled after the first of the year.
I remember when I went in for it; I was so excited because there was the chance that we would know the sex of the child at that time. I had already accepted that it was a boy because I had been calling him Jonah for some time. When I went to the hospital the young tech greeted me and was so nice. The ultra sound started out just fine yet as it continued I could tell that something was not right. I kept asking questions yet he would tell me that he was not able to answer them and that I would need to talk directly to my doctor. Upon leaving the appointment a sinking feeling was beginning to develop in me. I could sense that something was not right. My doctor called me shortly after and asked if I could come into the office to discuss the findings.
When I arrived his gentleness said it all. He continued to tell me in his grandfather manner that the baby was no longer alive. He could not give me a definite reason as to what had happened or why yet that I had the choice to come in the following Monday and have it removed or allow it to pass naturally. I was in shock. I had just accepted the fact that I was a 42 year old single pregnant woman. I had shouted it to the world. I could not wait for the chance to be a mother again and somehow possibly redeem myself for any of the mistakes I had made the first time round. I had begun to finally feel good. And almost instantly it was over. He also told me at this time that the child was a boy, just like I had thought.
I decided to call him the following week with my decision and go home and process all that had occurred. He informed me that there was a possibility that I could pass the child before I saw him again and continued to tell me what to do if this happened. He wanted me to keep any remains that may pass and bring them to him first thing Monday morning so that he could examine them and be sure that the process had occurred as it should. He told me simply to place the remains in a zip lock bag and keep them in the refrigerator until I could bring them in.
I went home in shock and upon reaching home simply sat on my couch speechless. Much like he anticipated the process did start that weekend and I delivered Jonah. Nothing was harder for me than to take the tiny body and place it into the bag as he described and sit it in my refrigerator; spending all weekend knowing that he was there
For weeks after this I kept thinking what it was I may have done that made me lose Jonah. Was it that glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Was it the medicine I took? Was I on my feet too much? What could I have done that would have harmed him. I guess I thought I was super woman and that this pregnancy would be much like the other three I had over 18 years ago? It took years before I could not blame myself for Jonah’s passing or even really talk about it. I still wonder if there was anything I could have done that may have enabled the whole situation to come out differently. Yet over time I have learned that all things happen with some purpose and although I may not exactly know what that purpose may be I have to hold firm to that belief.
Have I forgiven myself? There are times when I can answer yes and then there are times and the tears well up inside me and I miss him so. He would be 6 years old today… He would be in first grade and of course be a wonderful child. As much as I can I have tried to forgive myself for this and hold on to the short time I did share with him and the sweet presence I feel from time to time knowing he’s always close by.