Help forgiving myself?

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    I’m 17 years old and yesterday I got swept up in something some of my friends do nonchalantly. I stole a tank top and was caught as i walked out the door. The only thing i could think about was how my mom would react. I felt sick and i cried for the whole two hours they held me in the security room and all night afterwards. I was banned from the mall for a year and the every location of this store for the rest of my life. Even the police were called. The security guard cracked crude jokes at me and when he went through my bag he found a clean pair of spandex shorts i wear under dresses. “What is this? Dirty underwear? That’s disgusting. I don’t want this,” he said. I felt so gross. I regret what I did and I feel so horrible. I’m a good kid and I always try to be giving and kind to everyone around me. I was scared of my family’s trouble and I wasn’t thinking clearly. I hate myself for what I did. I threw up three times. My mind is the type that It’s impossible to forgive myself, even for something as small as getting into an argument with a loved one. I feel suicidal over what I did because I let down my mom and the values that she has taught me over the years. I’m just so distraught and I don’t know how to move on. Please help?

    Buddhist Wife

    Hello Isabelle,

    The first piece of advice I would give you would be – take a breath and calm down. You are clearly in a bad state at the moment because of what has happened and your anxiety is causing you not to think clearly. You need to put some time and distance between the events of yesterday and how you are currently feeling. This might seem like the end of the world now but believe me it isn’t. One day you will look back on this calmly and view it as just an incident in your life. You might even see the funny side in it.

    Talk to your family about how you feel. It may be best for you to write down your feelings if you have difficulty expressing them verbally. Let your Mum know you want to find ways to make it up to her. You really need to talk to someone especially if you are seriously feeling suicidal.

    It may be that you are getting into a cycle of obsessive thought about this. It would do you good to calm down and try not to think about this for an hour or two. You could try meditation or if that doesn’t work for you try doing something engaging like watching a film.

    Secondly understand that your Mum will always love you no matter what. Yes you have disappointed her, but she also understands that young people make mistakes. I’m a parent too and no matter what my child does I will always love him, I have no doubts that your Mum feels the same.

    If you haven’t done so already I think you should tell someone about the crude behaviour of the security guard. Just because you had committed a crime does not mean that you should be abused in that manner.

    In the longer term, when you are feeling calm and able to look at this situation objectively you may want to ask yourself why you behaved in the way you did. You are clearly not the sort of person who enjoys this sort of behaviour so why did you do it? Did you give in to pressure your friends placed on you? You may want to sit with that for a while and work out why. It’s possible that you are a people pleaser and that you put other people’s needs and wishes in front of your own.

    Remember that you are very very young and everyone makes mistakes. There are no bad people only negative actions.

    Lori Deschene

    Hi Isabelle,

    I just read through your post and I thought I’d add something to Buddhist Wife’s wonderful advice. This one act does not define you. You may have felt gross and/or ashamed in that moment, but you do not deserve to feel those things for having made this mistake.

    I shoplifted when I was your age, and I also got caught and detained in a security room–with my mother, who was an aisle over when I shoplifted. Even more embarrassing (I thought), I shoplifted diet/digestive items because I had an eating disorder. I was mortified and felt completely down on myself–and then I let those feelings fuel more behavior that led me to feel ashamed. If I were to go back and talk to my younger self, I’d say, “You deserve and need your own love right now. You made a mistake, but this mistake does not make you.” Then I’d try to be objective and learn what feelings inspired my actions instead of letting my feelings control me.

    That’s something that could help you right now, as Buddhist Wife recommended. If you can get to the root of the feelings beneath this incident and learn something that can help you going forward, it can even end up being a positive experience.

    So that’s my advice: try to figure out what led you to do what you did, and then find a lesson in that to help you move forward wiser and stronger. If I were there right now and it didn’t weird you out, I’d give you a big hug–as would anyone who could see just how much you’re hurting in this moment. I know it’s physically impossible, but mentally give one to yourself!



    I’m new to this website so I’m unsure how to directly reply to you two amazing women, but thank you with all of my heart, Buddhist Wife and Lori!

    I was feeling just as bad this morning until I got your replies. When i was hitting my lowest points of the day, it was like magic to find your replies and to be so uplifted by them. You’re helping me so much to move on and you both sound so wonderful and compassionate. Thank you so much for your kind and truthful words, It’s thanks to the two of you that I feel as if I can move on. I tried my hardest to show my mom today how much I love her and that we can both move on. We went for a hike, I watched her horse back riding, we had lunch together, and we did gardening together! And it was all done because your words gave me hope. I will continue to reread your answers to me better myself by taking this incident as a lesson and something that will never happen again.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Big hugs to both of you. I hope you know how wonderful you are.


    you know, i used to think oh coorporations make a ton of money so why does it matter about theft, i could find a million reasons to justify why its okay to do. but now really it is a scary thing to be at the mercy of others such as police or your parents so the best thing to do is not make decisions that will let others affect you. You are a wonderful writer on here and in touch with yourself enough to reach out to others because you recognize that this was a problem that made you feel bad. Many people possibly some of these people are your friends, are not in touch with themselves enough to realize that stealing just feels negative even though some may “get away with it”. it is better to build your life with things that you set goals to reach, you feel much happier in the long run and it is not just instant gratification. the best things in life are worth working hard for. i am learning this myself. i am 23 and my younger sister has been caught stealing as well as one of my best friends. my friend was tackled at walmart by a store worker (which is illegal im pretty sure) for stealing nail polish. people who work these jobs probably are unhapy with their lives and will say things to make you feel as bad as them. dont let anyone shame you just take this as a learning opportunity. perhaps you would have gotten away with it and tried to steal again with your friends and maybe the consequences would have been much worse. it is okay we all make mistakes 🙂


    Thank you Ginger!!! That has been bothering me so much. I’m not trying to say that what I did was okay in a any way, but It kills me that I was treated so horribly. I was sobbing and repeated over and over how sorry I was and how I would never do it again, but they continued to treat me like dirt. They were even horrible to my mom. They told her all of these other situations and possibilities of what *could* have happened, and she cried too. Why would they do that to her???

    ….Sigh. It’s hard to make this sound like I’m not trying to justify what I did so I hope anyone who reads this understands where I’m coming from.
    And I’m sorry for your friend who got tackled! That’s horrifying.

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