Goodbye Guilt – Accepting Imperfect Me

Today I read another blog, http://mindsetforlife.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/buddism-and-guilt/, and realized this is the biggest difference in my own mindset right now. His description “When you carry around guilt in our minds is like hiking up a mountain and picking up every rock we stub our toe upon and throwing it in our backpack. That is unskillful. It is unnecessary suffering . . . ” was a wonderful way to think about it.

So many abuse survivors carry around this burden of guilt. I’m not even talking about shame here, though that is closely related. Guilt. Huge, heavy, out of control guilt. I never allowed myself to make a mistake and move on, instead (I thought) I had to pick up those rocks and carry it forever on my back. I caused my own suffering, years after my parents were done with me. Why? Why do we do this?

The book I recommended yesterday, Trauma and Recovery, actually explained much of this in chapter 5 on child abuse. It explained how young children create 2 selves. Not exactly a multiple personality, though it can go that far, but for me it was just an unnatural split. I was told and shown repeatedly that I worthless, less than human, and would never amount to anything. I was unloved. Since humans die without love, I made it my mission in life to gain love, by being perfect. By blaming the abuse on me, it actually gave me some control, because if it wasn’t my fault, wasn’t something I could correct in myself, then, well, my situation was hopeless, and humans can not live without hope.

So even though I knew I was worthless, I tried to be so very good, to prove my worth. The problem is, I did not accept this good girl as really being me, since it never helped. Nothing was ever good enough, so this straight A, super thin, perfect child that the outside world knew as me, did not know the hurting, lonely, frightened child inside that was burdened with unimaginable guilt for never being good enough. As I grew up, those 2 girls became even more distant, and the perfect child had higher standards every day, and kept adding not just stones, but boulders on my back. I kept that up, simply until I couldn’t. It was too much, too heavy, too painful.

So how do you get rid of the stones you have gathered? You say Oops, that’s OK, I’m only human. But first you have to believe you are human. You have to give yourself as much compassion as you hold for others. I’m not completely there. I hope one day to not even have that backpack. But for now, I accept that it still fills a bit, and occasionally I go down to the river and skip those stones, one by one, watching the ripples and feeling the strength return in my body and soul. With each stone, I say “Oops, I really f-ed that up, didn’t I? HAha!” I force myself to laugh at my mistakes, and own them, roll around in them. And then I look around, and see the universe is still there, the world is still turning, and my family still loves.

I am not only  ALLOWED to F things up, but it is actually EXPECTED and a necessary part of life.

 

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12 thoughts on “Goodbye Guilt – Accepting Imperfect Me

  1. I am also trying to lesson my load of boulders and learn self-acceptance with my present life. I’m so glad to see I’m not alone in my struggle. You are an inspiration to me! xoxoDaylily

  2. I believe droppiing the stones off is a two step process –
    1. Understand no one is perfect and we are all worthless. Man is imperfect and every imperfect man has something good in him although we may not realise it. Even Bin Laden must have had something good in him.
    2. Understand God loves us just the way we are. We can do nothing more to make Him love us more or less. He loves us just the same… no matter how messed up we are.

    Point no.2 is critical although not many people would agree because they don’t believe in God. However, point 2 is very critical and trust me… accepting that has done greater good to me than any counsellor or self help books. Just my 2 cents….
    Great post!

    • I completely agree with #1. #2 is harder for me, though I do understand. I have wrestled with my personal beliefs in God and religion. But I do agree we need to have that something higher, something greater than little old me, or the pressure is just too great. Any one person can not accept the burdens of the world. I am still putting myself back together and I am open to some notion of God and spirit and have always wished for the peace and comfort that true faith would allow. However I can not force this, just remain open to it. Religion was used on me in terrible ways that I have not yet completely overcome. But I do appreciate your comment and encouragement as I wonder more and more how my marriage has been transformed this year, seems like a true miracle to me.

      • Yeah the preasure is too great without the knowledge of the Higher power. Not only that, to me a world without God doesn’t make sense. Otherwise, why should we even try to be good if good and bad are just man made moral standards? I believe good and bad are more standards determined by the higher power and the natural human tendency is to try to be good, although the bad person in us tries to gain power. There is this constant battle between good and bad, and our conscience, a reflection of God’s moral standards, tries to tell us what to do. I do understand it is a bit of difficult point for most people, maybe because they confuse God with religion. Religion is something that I do not like or believe either… a set of man made rules that threaten to take away the freedom God offered mankind. What people do in the name of religion is atrocious. I have personally been a prey of bad religion.I also appreciate you cannot force yourself to believe in something you do not understand and I think that is okay. I think that is okay with God too as He understands human minds. My faith teaches me that God draws His children to himself and no human efforts can force things. So I believe you are right in saying that you cannot force yourself to believe it. All I can say is that I really hope and pray you find the peace that you thirst for so much and find freedom from your past…. I hope memories of the past become just that… memories. I am sure God will get you through this, whether or not you are able to comprehend His love for you 🙂

  3. By the way… there is a #3 because I got to read your history only now. #3 is forgive. Forgive the person who made the mistake and messed up your life. Forgiving releases you from the fear. Forgiving is not equal to forgetting. You still cannot trust that person. But you can still choose to forgive. Holding anger cripples not the enemy but you! So let go of the anger (if you haven’t already), bless him and move forward. It is difficult but essential. A lot of people write down the bad things they did in a piece of paper and burning it. When you burn it u resolve to burn the anger and bitterness forever and forgive them for what they did. When I was offended by someone whom I trusted, I said this prayer “Lord, I don’t like that person cus they hurt me very badly. I choose to forgive them, although they knew what they were doing. I forgive and bless them. Help them to change, turn around and repent so that they wouldn’t harm others. Give them a chance to know you. I don’t ask you to curse them but I want them to understand their mistake. I want them to have a good life but I want a better life than them. In Jesus’ name. Amen” Well that’s how I forgave them and since then I have been able to move forward and the thought of vengeance or revenge never comes cus I know it’s no longer my business.

    • I have learned on my journey that there are levels of forgiveness, just as nothing else in life is all or nothing. Telling an abuse survivor to forgive the abuser may sound like a way to help them move on. But I will caution that I did this at age 16, before I was ready to understand, and allowed my dad to stay in my life. I thought I was taking the high road and passing judgement to God. At that time, it allowed my dad to continue emotionally abusing me for years, and did not allow me to see it, nor to grieve for my lost childhood. Only now, in my mid-thirties am I capable of understanding this, and putting myself back together. I don’t see your history on your blog, so I don’t know if we share any experiences or not. I do appreciate you taking time to comment and I think you are trying to be helpful, but I fear your comments are causing me stress today as recovering from child abuse is just not as simple as you put in a few steps here. I do agree though, that holding anger and vengeance in your heart is destructive. If you read more of my blogs, you will see I have a gentle soul and wish no harm on anyone, even those that have chosen to destroy my childhood. Just please be gentle in your comments, as you don’t know how powerful words can be, and what kind of day we are having. Peace and Blessings to you.

      • Rootstoblosson – first of.. my sincere apologies if I was hurting you in anyway… i never intended anything of that sort and did not imply you were holding anger. I was just mentioning the 3 steps to lay the stones off which I have personally experienced… not intending directly at you but hoping it would help any reader. Once again sorry and I did not mean to trivialize your pain or suffering and I completely understand it, I really do. Maybe the use of the word ‘you’ and the way I related reading your blog made you think it was just you I was talking about. I will be more careful the next time. Sorry 😦

        Now to the point of forgiveness in stages, I agree. As I said in my comment, it isn’t easy. Also, as I mentioned in my comment forgiveness is not equal for forgetting or trusting. Again not directing on you but to any general reader who maybe seeking to get help in similar matters, do not trust the offender. Be cautious of his/her wrong motives. Try everything possible to get out of the danger zone. But still forgive when you are trying to heal from the past. Forgiveness is a step towards healing, not a step towards escaping from the danger zone.

        Child abuse isn’t a simple issue and the solution to stop child abuse isn’t something I can even comprehend. It differs from people to people. Healing from that cannot be summarised in 3 steps. Maybe that sounds way too simple and sounds like a quick heal guide. I know it isn’t. But the healing process would include the 3 steps which in itself are complex. None of the 3 steps are simple and there are other circumstances around healing, like support from loved ones, acceptance from other, etc. However, self healing pretty much comprises of the 3 steps I’ve mentioned in my opinion, and it is just my opinion and experience. It may take years for some before they can completely get over it, a lifetime for few. Hope people can lay off the stones in as few days as possible.

  4. Pingback: I’m Wrong – It Feels Good To Be Imperfect « GLAM In Glamor

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