Can We Forgive Ourselves?

Oh, how hard we are on ourselves over our smallest infractions! As if no one else in the world has ever made a mistake or misjudgment…we even punish ourselves for things we did years and years ago. What a waste of time and emotion.

I say this as one who has had a hard time forgiving myself. There are things I said and did all the way back to childhood; for those indiscretions I have to keep repeating ‘I was a child; I didn’t know better.’ I have had to just let those things go.

There are certainly some unforgivable offensives people do, but most of the things we beat ourselves up over are trivial in nature and not worth the time to worry about them. It takes practice to exorcise those old demons, especially when it comes to friendships.

When we inadvertently offend a friend and they get angry (by something we said or did in all innocence), it’s best to simply apologize. And by ‘apologize’ I mean saying that you did not mean to offend, but now that you know you have, a sincere apology is in order: “I am so sorry; I did not mean to offend you in any way. I hope that you can forgive me.”

We need to be sure that the apology is real, too. The kind of apology that begins with, “well, I’m sorry that you felt what I said/did was offensive.” NO. That is a crap apology and is worse than saying nothing.

If they can’t (or won’t) accept the apology, then they may need space to nurse their hurt and anger, and time to get over it. If they can’t and you have made a sincere apology, there isn’t much more that you can do.

You have reached out, have been sincere, and the ball is then is in the other person’s court. If they are too upset and do not want to respond, then give them time and send them love. That’s all that we can do.

Often a long friendship breaks apart over a perceived slight; one person wants to hang on to their anger for one reason or another. Also, some friendships just fizzle out and you wonder why you ever connected in the first place. Sometimes we have to reevaluate friendships; there are some that just aren’t meant to last.

I had such a friend years ago. I met her when we were waitresses at a popular ice cream and burger place in my home town. We hit it off immediately, and I admired her quick wit and her sense of humor. She said and did things I would never have done; I got a kick out of her nerve.

Time went by; we went off to different colleges, and she joined a sorority. That was something I personally never cared for; I just wasn’t the sorority type. But as usual, I admired her strong sense of self. From there on I began to see a marked difference in our values.

She met the man she would marry in college, and soon she was planning her wedding. She asked me to be the maid of honor, which touched me. However, having never been a maid of honor before, I had no idea of what the traditions were or what I was supposed to do.

According to her, I was a terrible maid of honor. I seemed to do everything wrong; I didn’t throw her a party, I didn’t give her a proper gift (I did gift her with a much-beloved piece of my deceased grandmother’s *Capodimonte vase with beautiful flowers painted in their true colors, but evidently that wasn’t sufficient), and I didn’t do any of the proper maid of honor ‘duties,’ whatever they were.

Later on, to make up for my perceived short-comings, I made her a beautiful (and time-consuming) quilt for her wedding bed.

The day she told me that our friendship would be so much better ‘if only you (meaning me) were a better friend’ made me see the light. I walked away and didn’t look back. I finally realized that being a friend to her meant paying a price I just couldn’t afford.

A real friendship is a sweet and precious thing, and I cherish the few really dear friends that I have. I realize that friendship is something to be treasured and enjoyed; we take that wonderful person into our hearts just as they are, and hopefully they do the same for us. We do not take those friendships lightly; we don’t see flaws; we see all that there is to love about that person.

Am I a perfect friend? Far from it. I am grateful for the friends I have, and there isn’t one thing I would change about any of them. I am all too aware of my faults, and grateful that my friends like me anyway.

At this stage of my life, with more time behind me than there is ahead of me, I am all too aware that time is fleeting and precious.

I hope that the friends I have know how much I love and care for them; how deeply entwined they are in my heart. I would not be who I am without them; they are part of my heart and soul. One of many quotes about friendship is one I truly love by William Shakespeare:

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. ”

*From Wikipedia: “Capodimonte porcelain is porcelain created by the Capodimonte porcelain manufactory, which was established in Naples, Italy, in 1743. Capodimonte porcelain was made in direct emulation of Meissen porcelain. Capodimonte is famous for its molded figurines and its decorative modeled flowers applied to cups and vases.”

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Can We Forgive Ourselves?

  1. Diane Kirkup says:

    Jane your messages always have great value. Thank you for sharing.

  2. lulujbf7 says:

    Thanks so much, Diane! 🙂

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