After finishing a season of spinning and thrashing, it was delightful to find myself once again settled and peaceful. Life did come back, just as everyone had assured. Slowly the days became happier again, quieter and busier at the same time, packed with a kind of fullness that made me feel alive and joyful.
Yet, in the middle of it all, there remained something sore and tender under all the layers. It was a void that I struggled to identify – a silent heaviness comprised partly from anger, then grief, shame, and disappointment. It was easy to ascribe those emotions to people around me, suggesting that perhaps “they” were making me feel ashamed and embarrassed. It was more difficult to come to terms with the fact that I was angry and disappointed with myself.
I replayed the past over and over in my head, asking myself a million questions. What could I have done differently? How could I have been so stupid? I no longer trusted myself; it seemed to me that my judgement had failed me. External criticisms can be sharp and painful at times, but they are nothing compared to the coals we make ourselves walk on. After all, we know the intricacies and insecurities surrounding our stories better than anyone else.
I have found that human capacity for grace with others is much greater than I had once believed. There were a great many things I could forgive, albeit messily, but I could not extend this same grace to myself. I was told that I would need to forgive myself if I truly wanted to move forward with my life. At first, it appeared to be a monumental, un-startable task... where do you even begin?
The only comparison I can draw is driving on Alberta winter roads. The snow piles up and the roads are cleared, but even when they are free of snow, they are not always safe. Crews circulate through counties and neighbourhoods with salt and sand. Self-forgiveness, I believe, is both sand and salt: it melts our ice, and helps us regain our footing on uncertain territory. The work of self-forgiveness is subtle and ongoing. We keep sprinkling away at the slippery patches, day after day.