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Forgive Yourself and Change Your Choices

For almost four years I held onto a feeling that I had somehow done something wrong—that I hadn’t tried hard enough, that I had somehow failed my daughter.

In May 2008 my daughter’s father had arrived home after staying out all night. He told me he no longer loved me, found me attractive, or even fancied me, and that at eight years younger than him I was “too old.”

I was completely stunned.

While our relationship had many of the usual flaws, we had never fought, and I’d believed him one month prior, after we bought a new home together, when he said he was the happiest he’d ever been in his 45 years.

After the initial shock had worn off, I moved into a house with my daughter and I began to reflect back. I realized that for the previous eight years, I had in fact been living in some sort of cloud-cuckoo land.

I realized I had overlooked many real issues that had existed between us because we had a child. I had worked full-time, putting our daughter in childcare, while he remained unemployed and “too depressed” to look after our girl, spending hour after hour laying on the sofa watching movies.

I had never questioned how he went out, bought a sports car, two motorbikes, and a yacht after coming into some family money, while I continued to pay for all food, child care expenses, and household expenses.

I suddenly realized all the “girl friends” he had and communicated with on a daily basis, via text and email, were in fact “girlfriends.”

And then I got angry; in fact, I became wild.

But I didn’t get angry with him; I turned that anger on myself. I hated who I had become.

How had I allowed myself to be hoodwinked by this financial opportunist?

This anger manifested in excessive spending. I racked up a lot of debt and I found myself feeling out of control.

Push came to shove when the ex reneged on a loan with my name attributed to it and I had the bank threatening to take my house away if I didn’t pay up.

My anger at my out of control spending was at a peak and I realized something had to change. I knew theoretically that I had to simply stop spending and make a budget, but it took some deep meditation and soul searching to be able to reach that point.

I knew the first thing I had to do was forgive myself.

I had to forgive myself for falling for a man, who I then allowed to walk all over me for fear of losing him and ending up alone.

I needed to forgive myself for “overlooking” his behavior and enabling him to live, in essence, a bachelor’s life while supposedly being partnered to me and parenting our young child.

I needed to forgive myself for spending to soothe my pain.

And I needed to forgive myself for all the things I thought I had done, should have done, could have done, or might have done.

Forgiving ourselves can sometimes be the hardest thing, and yet it’s the easiest way to change everything.

It was, at this point that something changed, both mentally and financially for me.

I actually said, aloud, “I forgive you Francesca.”

I actually felt physically lighter. I began to make some conscious decisions about what I spent, how I spent it, and when I spent. I discovered it was totally possible to live a wonderful, exciting, fun, joyous life without having to spend excessively.

I began to write about my experiences with money, spending, and pain. I found I was not alone and that I could relate to many others, as they could to me.

Each day, especially with the help of Tiny Buddha, I take a daily saying and apply it to my own life, making it richer and more fulfilling. This was how I chiseled away at my anger, one tiny but at a time.

One other thing I knew I had to do was to forgive my ex. I know now that I am totally responsible for my choices, but I needed to forgive him in order to fully forgive myself. So once again, I forgave him out loud.

And once again, I felt the weight of any residual anger dissipate.

Forgiveness can change our whole outlook on life. It makes us better people.

Even the little things can make a big difference. Whenever something happens that I might feel a little annoyed by, I take a moment to think about it. Will it matter a day from now, a week, a year? On my death bed would I even remember it if someone told me about it?

I also consider why things have happened, and what part of the situation I might not know about or understand.

When we forgive, we also show the people around us how it’s done. Many of us spend so much of our lives holding grudges. What if we never wasted a moment of our beautiful lives on hate, antagonism, and vitriol, toward ourselves and others?

Imagine the complete universal shift if everyone who ever felt pain, resentment, or rage toward another human being was to let it go through forgiveness?

Peace can be achieved far more easily than we might believe if we choose to be role models. We may only affect one person, but that person affects another, and so on, creating a more loving, forgiving, beautiful world.

Forgiveness heals. It makes us more positive. It increases our ability to help others. It increases our ability to help ourselves.

If you do nothing else this year, forgive yourself for the choices you wish you didn’t make. We all do the best we can at each point in our lives. As we learn, we do better.

Photo by Peter.Busse

Avatar of Francesca Tulk

About Francesca Tulk

Francesca Tulk is the Tasmanian Minimalist. She blogs at http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com and teaches 9 and 10 year old children. Her aim in life is to have a completely decluttered home and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves. You can find her on twitter @tasmanianm. She lives in Tasmania, Australia.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Lv2terp

    Fantastic article, very inspiring…thank you for sharing your experience and your wisdom!! :)

  • http://theviewfromherebycraig.com/ Craig Ruvere

    Thank you so much for your post. Forgiving yourself is NEVER easy. Our natural inclination is to blame ourselves for what’s gone wrong in our lives. But the reality is one day you realize that no one is perfect, and even if you did make a past mistake, you can always make it right – for yourself. Stay strong :)

  • http://www.YogaInMyPocket.com/ Cindy

    Forgiveness has been HUGE in my life.   When I realized how much suffering I’ve inflicted upon MYSELF, I finally woke up and gave in to the power of forgiveness for others and MYSELF.  What a huge relief, and it’s become much easier to do on a regular basis.  Thank you for this post. 

  • James33

    Great read! I went through the same thing after my last breakup. 

  • Still trying

    Great post.
    Perhaps it’s easier to forgive once you’ve had a clean break from the affending spouse and can move on. While life can be very confusing and hurtful for someone who’s trying to decide whether to keep hanging on to a difficult marriage after they’ve been hurt.

  • Z. Oviedo

    This is perfect! Love this post. I’ve been dealing with a recent breakup & I’ve dealt with a lot of the same feelings shared here. It’s crazy how we sometimes let people get away with hurting us(over & over), all in the “name of love”. Right after the breakup I noticed myself getting more angry & resentful of everything because of all that had happened over the span of the relationship, leading up to the breakup. I was angry…at myself & at them. I finally realized, “I needed to forgive myself for all the things I thought I had done, should have done, could have done, or might have done”. I also realized I needed to forgive my ex for what they did, because holding onto the hurt was only hurting me more in the long run. Things are improving daily though…life feels lighter & days seem brighter(even when it’s cold & gloomy out). It’s amazing how forgiving ourselves & just letting go makes you feel! :)

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     It’s funny that it takes us so long to realise, once we forgive ourselves the whole world is ours. Thanks for reading :)

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Thank you Craig, I am staying strong, it’s easier than I thought it could be :)

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Thank you for reading :)

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     True point there, After the break up I was able to reflect on what a door mat I had been and how I was going to work past that. Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Thank you for reading :)

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Thank you for commenting. It’s like the old saying, IF YOU PLAN ON REVENGE: DIG TWO GRAVES. I didn’t want to dig two graves, so revenge and forgiveness couldn’t exist on the same page. Luckily I chose forgiveness. All the best :)

  • Joy

    “Forgiving ourselves can sometimes be the hardest thing, and yet it’s the easiest way to change everything.” Love that quote. Many blessings to you. Great article.

  • Nazmierhan

    Very sincere post Francesca, just I really felt it, thank you. It makes me feel I’m not alone. We have the right to make mistakes and anything can happen in our lives, impossible to control. But we can control what we choose and we don’t. If we believe we chosed the ‘right’ thing for us even if it leads to unexpected outcomes, instead of blaming there should be forgiving, embracing.

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Thanks for your reply, have a great day :)

  • http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/ Francesca

     Great response, thank you for your thoughts.

  • Kristyalice

    This is what I needed to hear for the past year & a half now. This article changed my life & I want to thank you for your honesty so thank you!

  • Tinarose29

    I really enjoyed this article. I’ve had to forgive alot of people of the years including myself. The only down side has been that some of the people I’ve forgiven think they can still be in my life and when I’ve said no to them they’ve turned nasty which is a shame beacuse it shows me that they have not evolved and I do not want nasty people in my life forgiven or not. Forgiveness is about finding peace and if someone says they’ve forgiven you, move on with your life knowing that no one out there holds a grudge.
    I’ll be keeping this article to read over and over :)

  • http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ Carol

    Francesca,

    This is a great post and it is good that you are able to forgive yourself – especially since you likely made the best decision at the time when made the choice to be with the father of your child. 

    It is not easy to do and I’ve been struggling with forgiving myself for staying in a marriage for over 20 years to a verbally abusive man who I also allowed to manipulate me into giving up my savings in a divorce 6 years ago. Slowly I’ve gained back my confidence and trust in my intuition (he was just like my father who told me that I never did anything right unless it was his way!) – but it is a long journey to gain personal power that males in my life worked hard to suppress (and I let them!)  My self-forgiveness feels hinged on the fact that I not allow myself to be duped again – and I don’t know how to do that.

    Congratulations on being a survivor and succeeding in moving forward as quick as you have!

  • kellyhogaboom

    This is a beautiful article. I like the quote, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”. It’s been true in my life, and necessary as a recovering alcoholic. Thanks for a wonderful piece.

  • Angelique

    Wow, Francesca! Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts. I am going through a divorce and can 100% relate to the questions you asked yourself. I didn’t realize I was in such a deep self-denial fog about my marriage until I left. Now, my brain is clear, my thoughts are my own, and I have forgiven both myself, and him. Totally liberating! I have a very happy future in front of me and I am sure you do as well. Thanks, again!

    Angelique

  • urooj shahid

    Amazing advice! :) Thank you!!

  • urooj shahid

    But i cannot find your blogs on  http://www.tasmanianminimalist.com/. Help me with that! :)

  • urooj shahid

    Amazing advice Thank you so much! :)

  • http://technicolortypecast.blogspot.com Tracerz

    Oh yeah! Forgiveness! Thanks for reminding me ;)

  • Vivzj

    Indeed!! I love it!

  • Believenchange

    WOW, I found this article at a point in my life where i need it most. I was in a similar situation but instead of being reckless with money I was reckless with my body and my self worth. I realize that I have forgiven everyone else except MYSELF. Atleast i know what I have to do now. Thank you kindly for sharing your story. It opened both my eyes and my heart to start the journey of self forgivness…..

  • Pam

    Forgiving oneself is one of the hardest things to do. I have put on 25 lbs since my husband and I made the decision (albeit grudgingly) to sell our home and move away from our families to an area that is less expensive and had better employment for my hub. I am still not convinced that it was the best thing to do but being only one person in a relationship of two I felt that it was only fair to give it a shot. I have never really had any regrets in life up to then but this may be one of them.But as someone said “Bloom where you’re planted”. I need to forgive myself for making this decision. I feel a lot of guilt. It ain’t easy.

  • Hector Sanchez

    Thank you for sharing

  • AkaBatGirl

    Thank you so much, I needed to hear this. I too developed some awful spending habits in response to grief and upheaval in my life. I’ve stewed about and it beat myself up over it for the better part of a year, and it’s time to let it go and learn the lesson. Thanks so much for sharing your story (and btw your ex husband was crazy to let you go)!