Making mistakes and forgiving yourself

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    I am trying to keep this as brief as possible.
    I am 49 years old, have 3 children ages 13, 25 and 26 and recently went through a “divorce” my “husband” and I were not legally married, but we had everything but the marriage certificate.
    For many years I have been unhappy with myself and projected that onto my relationship with my husband and my children and last but not least with myself. I completely submerged myself into being a parent, so much so that I lost all sense of self and resented everyone including myself for that. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my children, I would die for them without hesitation, but my biggest mistake was to give myself up entirely for my family and losing myself in the process.

    Fast forward 14 years…. I moved out of the “marital” bedroom roughly 2 years ago, I had lost all romantic love for my husband and should have left then, but fear of being alone and broke, I never built a career, kept me from venturing out on my own.
    Eventually, I am not just blaming myself for this because it takes two to make a relationship work, I became involved online with a younger guy, I developed real strong feelings for him. What a dumb mistake that was, we ended up “calling” it off after 3 months but feelings were hurt and I ended up ending the relationship with my husband because I was not being fair to him or myself by not being in love with him any more.
    The one thing I struggle most with right now, the involvement with the younger guy never went passed emailing by the way, is to forgive myself for the “affair” forgive myself for hurting my family and children. I am out on my own now, rented a townhouse so that my youngest and I can move forward with our lives. Financially I am ok for now, we had a good chunk of savings and split our property 50-50.
    I also have a hard time motivating myself to do things, I am pretty sure I am not depressed, but I am jobless, goalless, feel hopeless and have even stopped photographing, which was one of my biggest passions in life.
    How do you forgive yourself and move on passed your own judgement? How do you motivate yourself to see beyond loneliness and even thoughts of going back to the life I have had previously even though I was so very unhappy? My husband has forgiven me as I have forgiven him for not being there for me, it really is a lot to tell, too much for a forum, don’t want to bore members ๐Ÿ˜€
    I have gone over the reasons for a reconciliation and the only few reasons I can come up with to consider that is not being lonely any more, which, writing this now is a huge lie, even in that big old house with 5 people living in it I still felt terribly alone, the only difference was that I could find a living soul in a matter of minutes by just walking out of my bedroom and knocking on someone’s door, here I have this place to myself and my 13 year old every other week for a week, we are co-parenting. Financial security is also part of that and it really makes me sick just writing it, because I never got into a relationship for money, why would I consider going back partially for that? But these are the 2 main reason why I would consider a reconciliation and by all means, that’s just not enough. So how do I move on? How do I set goals, make plans and more importantly, how do I motivate myself enough to do the work? They say “Fake it til you make it” I am not very good at faking….


    Dear Dee,
    There are a lot of similarities in our personal stories. I have by no means worked it all out – in fact, I am still struggling with some aspects of being single at 50. I want to be very careful what I say to you, because although we have similar stories, our ultimate solutions may take us in very different directions. What has been very helpful to me is to embrace my new freedom and learn how to MAKE MYSELF HAPPY.

    I go out with my friends weekly.I joined an Eagles Club where I can go out by myself if I need to, and they provide opportunities for me to donate my time & talents to really worthwhile events. I started doing needlework and drawing again. I read more now than I have in years. I bought a kayak and THAT was really huge for me. It is almost a spiritual thing. I get out in the lake where it is quiet and beautiful and I talk to God. I talk out my problems, my doubts, fears, goals, etc. I do a couple laps around the lake and float around until my anxiety has completely left me.

    I hope you can find a useful nugget or two in there. Wishing you a bright future – wherever your path may take you!



    Thank you so much for your response Lulu.
    I have yet to learn to make myself happy because I still struggle with forgiving myself for my short-comings.

    A kayak sounds like something I need, in fact, I have talked about it for years, getting back into a kayak, did that in my 20’s. But for years I let myself go and didn’t take care of myself. This year has been a year of major changes. I quit smoking 5 and half months ago, lost 71 pounds since May, got “divorced” and am now on my own. I don’t like being alone, it’s the first time in 26 years that I have been alone. I think I also have the tendency to feel sorry for myself and I really dislike self-pity. I need to get back into my photography and again that’s were the lack of self-motivation comes in.
    I used to be a very social person, keep up with my friends, when I met my ex 17 years ago, he’s very anti-social and withdrawn, I fell right into his pattern and became accustomed to not having my friends in my life on a regular basis. At my age I wouldn’t even know where to go to start a new social circle and honestly I am not sure if that’s what I need right now, I am confused and quite a bit lost, not quite sure where to start and how and have just kind of been living day to day.

    The kayak idea sounds amazing, but I live in a townhouse and wouldn’t know where to store it haha, probably wouldn’t look so good in my living room because I would get a 2 person kayak so I can grab my 13 year old and drag him with me ๐Ÿ˜€

    I also wish you the best from the bottom of my heart and thank you so much again for your kind response!


    Mistakes are a constant. Whether they are major or minor are irrelevant. We are imperfect beings, prone to live our lives making nothing but mistakes. However, progress requires that we make them. How else would we become better otherwise? You and your husband are proof of imperfection. As are your children, as I am, as a stranger is, as the president and priests and teachers are, etc….In this truth, we are all innocent and will always be. So if you haven’t already, please forgive yourself. You move on also because of the same reason. Accept the fact that you did not and never will have all the answers. Accept that mistakes are acceptable. Also, do your best to see the positive in this. Two of your children are adults and are well away on their own journeys, you have one that has resource of four loving adults to refer to for help, you and your ex-husband have recognized and forgiven eachothers’ mistakes, ending things amicably, and you now both have a chance to pursue a new happiness. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So please be more cheerful, for you have every reason to. As for goals, chase what you believe will make you happy. If you’re unsure as to what that is, it means you have the great opportunity of exploring and experimenting. Once you find it, the motivation will assuredly appear right alongside it.



    Thank you Al and you are right, we are nothing but imperfect, I am the eternal perfectionist and am starting to learn to let go of that as I am trying to achieve something that is unachievable.
    Self-forgiveness is a hard one to learn and do, because there is still a little regret and I can’t let go until the regret is gone or worked through, it’s a slow process.

    Lulu motivated me to look into kayaks, it’s something I have been thinking about doing again for years now and never really looked into it, now I have no attachments other than to my 13 year old and myself. I looked into kayak storage and found a real nice inflatable kayak which I can keep in my townhouse ๐Ÿ˜€ for next week I am going to see if I can get enrolled in a beginner’s class because I am very very rusty.
    Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and kindness. I am very afraid of being judged, had very hard, downright abusive physically and mentally and very judgmental parents, hence I beat myself up a lot and more than I should, I have gotten really good at it. It’s also something I am working on stopping. A lot of work to do, it’s a bit overwhelming…. but I gotta start somewhere right!?

    Sean Bloomfield

    Hi dee
    You sound not as low as perhaps you feel and that’ is I think part of the fake it till you make it syndrome unconsciously .
    I’m 53 and struggling with a very painfull realisation that my 17 yr family life will never be the one I had planned for due to my impending divorce and to my many struggles with myself and my lack of ability to take responsibility for my negative habits .
    Sexual abuse in childhood, aswell as domestic violence, aswell as growing up in an environment in N.ireland rife with violence of political and war like in its nature, gave me the perfect excuse to adopt numerous selfish habits which then became crutches of different disguises .
    On the outside I was desperately craving love and affection and strived to show a constant drive and passion for work to secure a future for our family.
    However on the inside a tortured existence hidden behind a mask of ignorance as to why I felt this way.
    I understand you can never hide what or who you truly are , and to have a life of loving existence you have to start inside, deep inside , forgiving yourself is the only way you can ever be true to yourself and when you learn to do that your whole life will honestly open up in front of you .
    I had a look at your site and more importantly your photos …they really say a lot about the inner beauty of your heart truly have a gift of presenting reality in an honest view the form of a photograph
    I wish you to know life ,the world and the people in it are truly wonderful we all just have to find a way of seeing it that way
    Love and a heartfelt hug


    Hi Sean, thank you so kindly for your response and kind words!

    Much of what you are saying about negative habits as well as abuse rings true for myself and my former husband. And perhaps you are right about the unconsciously faking til you make it, I never thought of it that way but I suppose I sound more chipper than I actually feel.

    Today doesn’t start out too bad or I should say, today starts, I am in a good mood, ask me next week when I don’t have my son with me for an entire week except for Christmas Eve. I am a native of Germany and our important Christmas day is Christmas Eve. The kids will be over that entire day to celebrate with me, so that’s a real good thing at least I get to keep one tradition ๐Ÿ™‚ after that it really is a crap shoot. I will be by myself again and that’s where I struggle the most because I had focused so much on the kids, the house, the husband for so long, my sense of self it gone. A few losses throughout the years made life a bit harder and have changed the person that I am.
    I used to express myself through photography and every day I didn’t shoot was a wasted day for me, now I hardly ever pick up my camera any more. I really miss it but am lacking the energy right now to make an effort to go out and shoot. There’s that self-pity again, one of my really loud inner demons haha

    Hugs to you Sean and a heartfelt thank you for your response

    Sean Bloomfield

    While I was driving back to my moms where am building my emotional strength again ,I was listening to a guy called earl nightingale on the subject of how we think and more importantly what we think about internally reflects externally in our behaviour,oura ,or whatever word is used to discribe this truth.
    It’s about what we think about and how it more than any other aspect of our life truly determins the outcome of our overall present state of being.
    Now I have to be careful as there are far more eloquent writers and wordsmiths on this site than I , all I can do is speak from my heart.
    I am 53 years old have one son at university doing a masters degree at the age of 28 after surviving what’s called a “subdural empiema”
    He caught sinasitus through the airline airsystem whilst on holiday to Greece with friends at the age of 17. When the surgeon explained it had travelled through his eye ducts and came to rest on his brain and subsequently had spread vigorously behind his skull.,I was beside my self with terror not fear because to be told he may not survive the operation was the lowest point of my entire life and as I write this to you now Dee and relive that episode of true fear I am almost embarrassed at my unmanly weakness of falling almost apart by the breaking of a relationship where we all are in such good health,eyes to see,ears to hear,mouth to speak,
    Limbs to work effortlessly, and above all a brain so magnificent and full of so much ” UNTAPPED ” ability and wonder it leaves me cold to feel at times so pittyful in my heart.
    My Sean emerged 5 weeks later with a 4 inch titanium plate covering the hole in his skull from his ordeal of drips ,injections,monitoring equipment,24 hr vigilant nursing to go on and last year get a first in his university degree and now like I say studying for a masters degree. ” proud” and eternally gratefull does not even come close to how I feel but you get the picture (sorry for the photo reference )
    My second son Ryan is 24 yrs of age and is holding his life together by thread sometimes it feels, as he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder this year after be sectioned against his will to a state of the art mental hospital. I spent today with him and every free day he will allow me. He and his brother are from a young relationship and when that ended it wasn’t long before I found what I thought was the holy grail of true love.
    The following 16 yrs of life where driven by people pleasing, trying to prove I was good enough and compromise of my nature,intelligence ,honour, self esteme and ability not to loose or let go of the burning pain in my heart. All of this was driven by me ” me”
    I could justify all day long the behaviours of myself and the manor in which I had no self control over the crutches I leaned on from alcohol , to self pity and to blame everone and anyone ,this circumstance and that circumstance was always easier than to do what was truly needed…that was to do the right thing.
    I guess in the end the powers that be …after 16years conspired to save me from myself and my wife and her 3 children from a tortured future.
    Believe me as I right this the honesty burns deep because we have a 14 yr old beautiful daughter to add to the collection.
    So that’s 6 children between us .
    I believe deep within all of us we want and crave one thing through out our existence here on earth and that is to be loved and to be able to share what we have learned through our life experiences what that true love means to us .
    However unless we can love ourselves we will always come from the position of “do as I say …not as I do…”. and if we wouldn’t except that principle from anyone else , then why do we expect that from others…Wow where did all that come from..sorry
    I’m getting tired of my own self pittyful waste of the precious short lived time we have on this earth, and at present like you desperately pushing to unlock that self imposed emotional prison cell so I can once again strap on my armour and pick up my sword in the defence of this truly wonderful life we have been gifted with.
    We are I believe exactly where we are supposed to be until we learn what it is we need to learn ….in order to find the wisdom and grace needed to be a true and honest part of this great existence ,we need to lead our children through the murky clouded waters of emotional trials and tests that they “will” encounter
    By our own example of courage, determination,strength, will,and most importantly love of thy self….to end I realise why on an airplane they at the beginning of the safety instruction they explain when the cabin looses pressure and the mask falls from above, you should put your on mask on first before the child ..even though that goes against your instinct…fix you …then when they truly need it you can fix them.
    I hope Dee my outpouring did not detract in any way from how you feel but I do hope you feel your journey is not so lonely
    You matter just as much as everyone else
    Warmth and love


    My kayak is an inflatable made by Sea Eagle! Very sturdy and quite comfortable. I can inflate it with a foot pump in less than 10 min. Kept it in the trunk of my Ford Focus so it’s ready to go whenever I am.

    Calm waters await you my friend!


    Wow Sean…..
    Please don’t apologize for letting it “hang out” seems as though you needed it ๐Ÿ˜€

    Your comment “However unless we can love ourselves we will always come from the position of โ€œdo as I say โ€ฆnot as I doโ€ฆโ€. and if we wouldnโ€™t except that principle from anyone else , then why do we expect that from othersโ€ฆ” kind of struck a cord with me simply because I don’t practice what I preach with my children, especially not with my 13 year old. I have never thought of self-love in an unselfish matter, was always told to give to others, be a good person, give more to others, sacrifice, give all that you got and so I did…. including most of myself to the point of not knowing who I am any more, what I want, where I am going and why. If someone were to ask me who I am today, this very moment, the only word I could use to describe myself is “parent” I know I used to be so much more….

    I read a book the other day “Love Yourself: The Secret Key to Transforming Your Life” it is very short but tells you to look into the mirror every day, several times a day and say “I love you” out loud, whisper it, grind it through your teeth but say it. Do it as often as possible. The very first time I was embarrassed to look at myself and grind those words through my teeth, when I finally did it I cried. I have been trying to say these words to myself every time I go to the bathroom and look into the mirror. Its gotten a little easier to say but no less awkward and still a bit embarrassing, not sure if it’s the right word for it. So I shy away from going to the bathroom….

    Thank you for your response and your out pouring, I hope it made you feel a little better. I don’t mind at all and it most certainly did not detract in any way from what and how I feel, on the contrary, it did make me feel less alone. Realizing that I am not alone on this journey no matter how alone I often feel is a good thing in the sense that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and do the work to get myself better and I feel maybe, I can do that by supporting other people while working on myself. Perhaps I need to write down a plan, what’s important to me in my immediate life, what do I need to do for myself and my children in this very moment to be happy or I should say happier and what do I need to do to continue to grow and learn to love myself, learn to appreciate who I am and the good qualities I have and work on reducing my less desirable traits.

    Again thank you for sharing your journey!


    Already went shopping Lulu thank you so much! Can’t wait for it to get here! Need a refresher course for sure, can’t wait to take my youngest out with me with a thermos full of hot cocoa ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you for the inspiration



    I am sorry for the difficult places you’ve found yourself within, and can understand how difficult it becomes when we have spent so much of our time caring for others. Sometimes it goes on for so long, we don’t even recognize ourselves anymore. Sadly, this is often the tale of mothers, who set aside their needs for their children and family. In my eyes, they are tales of unsung heroes that have invested their light into nurturing and caring for the children of the planet.

    That being said, there is of course the real challenge of developing your own happiness. Don’t despair, dear sister, because even though your spirit has been tangled by years of neglect, your heart has remained strong and fluid. Said differently, you have a deep and profound love in your heart, inspired by your children, and it is quite usual to feel unworthy of it yourself. Perhaps its not embarrassment that you feel as you look in the mirror, rather shame. As though you don’t really, truly deserve that love… and so you giggle or cry or avoid… anything to help make it more bearable. But, sister, mother, goddess, you are not only deserving of that love, you are its avatar in the world. Said differently, from the moment your children were born, you held them to your breast. When you needed sleep, you set aside that need to offer comfort and sleep to the babe. When you needed to be held, you set aside that need to hold your children. It happens, unfortunately, that habits of tossing aside the need can arise, which grow quite naturally into resentment and escape. Frustrated with the kids, the husband, yourself, the world… for your needs unmet, song unsung. But don’t come here acting like you are undeserving of the love you spent years and years giving. Of course you are, dear sister. Of course.

    The thing is, there is simply no need for fear or shame to blossom for you. There is always guidance when we open to it, grace when we need it, and a house that is our own. Some nights seem darker than others, but have faith that the love you have grown in the world through your efforts as a mother will come back tenfold in radiance and wonder. This doesn’t happen through some magical outside force, rather, it is drawn into your life through the compassion and grace you have given to others.

    The byproduct, perhaps still resting on your shoulders, is a dumb cycle of guilt and suppression. Perhaps you feel guilty for wanting things. You wanted some tender attention, so you sparked up some romance. You wanted some space, so you moved out of the marital bed. Instead of regarding these as signposts along your path of self knowing, perhaps you still feel ashamed of what you did. There is simply no need (as you noticed in my post earlier). Instead, those “mistakes” can become pure white information about what you like and don’t like. Said differently, the same heart that pushed you toward giving a ton of your time to nurture and grow your family pushed you toward the affair. Much like when we are stressed, sometimes our nerves act up and we get a twitch, a warning sign that things are seriously out of balance. Another way of looking at it is like water. You were perhaps like a woman in a life raft, dying of thirst (needing loving affection). It built and built until even though you knew it was salt water, you drank it deeply into you. Fell hard and fast, most likely, feeling alive again after so much thirst. As it digested, though, of course in cankered. A woman who gives up so much for her family doesn’t often sit well with feeling like they betrayed it. So, even that was just another excuse to beat yourself up, another on a long list of reasons why you are imperfect, a failure as a woman, mother, wife. Luckily, that’s total bullshit.

    But here and now, there is still the woman, Dee, looking to rekindle that inner fire, the grace and song that she used to sing. I love where you’ve gone with saying you love yourself into the mirror. Consider a little different approach. Consider trying to look at yourself in the mirror. Don’t push, don’t prod. Theres been plenty of that. Consider instead a little gratitude. Look at the girl, the goddess, who gave up a lot in the name of love. Thank her! Thank her for making the world a better place by loving her children. Thank her for keeping clothes clean and food ready. For school lunches and after school stuff and the bazillion other needs that came up that you championed without hesitation. Sure, you fumbled a bunch of times, but you rose to it far more often. Then, perhaps slowly, gently, you could look upon yourself as one of your children. Your own precious jewel to tend, polish and see grow into wellness. Imagine what you might offer to your child, standing there beside you, feeling sorrowful for the life they have lead. But as you look with compassion for them, you see the blessing they have been, the whole of their life, and how little of their own beauty they saw. And even so, bereft of self knowing of their beauty, they kept going, for love of their children… because, well, of course! Can’t you see it, Dee? The beauty and wonder that you are?

    So really, let the shame, the guilt, the self criticism go. Let it go! Your heart is strong and wise, let it bloom! Let that warmth inside spread to the ends of the earth, because you have tended the garden with your best song, and you deserve a life of joy. Namaste, sis, may your song bring peace to your precious heart.

    With warmth,

    Sean Bloomfield

    Dee I
    feel your situation could not have been put more honestly than the heartfelt honesty with which Matt has described your journey of your family life until now.
    I feel as a man and husband aswell as a father Matt has awakened in me the dormant and hidden honesty that refused to notice the true value of parenting and the absolute selflessness it requires. There are many men who should pay attention to the rigorous unconditional physical and emotion demands that is required from mothers every waking hour of every day and the ego driven ignorance of us husbands can only lead to sadness and at times loneliness for a wife who is so under appreciated in heart that she feels so ignored and unnoticed.
    Every woman deserves the opportunity to flourish in her personality and has much to offer an every aspect of the family relationship and men would do well to understand that eventually the are at the real helm of family life.
    Dee you will recover and eventually your loving light will guide all your family home safely…
    Matt..Thank you ,your wisdom is beyond honesty
    You opened my eyes ,my heart, and my soul ,everything you described in Dee was absolutely the honest truth and I feel I should have seen it all in my own marriage instead of the cowardice I showed in blaming her..and everyone else
    “Eternally great full to you both”



    Thank you for the kind words, and for letting your heart blossom with appreciation. Namaste, brother.

    With warmth,


    Sean’s and Matt’s responses touch the bottom of my heart, I am reduced to tears as I am reading this. Never have I thought about myself in such a way as you describe, never felt deserving? Especially now when there is still some guilt. I am not sure if I feel regret, probably a little bit, it comes and goes in waves as does my ability to cope with that and the loneliness.

    I don’t wish my ex ill, he’s a good man, just not a very good husband, he’s trying to be a father to my children now and tries to make up for 16 years of absenteeism, it’s not working out too well for him because the kids are resentful toward him and I am trying to get them to see that it’s never too late to try and make a mends, never too late to try and build a relationship with them and that they should just give him a chance. It might not be the relationship it could have been had he been there for them all of this time, but at least it would be a relationship of some sort.
    The way he went about it in the beginning of our break-up was all wrong, wrong way to go about it and wrong timing. You see, my two older kids are from a previous marriage and the ex and I agreed to raise all 3 of my children as best as we can. He just never showed up even when his only biological child was born. He made appearances but was never really there for either of them, he supported them financially in terms of providing a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs but no other efforts were made outside of that. Not even when their biological father fell of the face of the earth for 6 years and left me with the remnants of my children’s’ resentment, anger and sadness.
    After our split up, he’s quite affluent, working in the medical field, he then started, what appeared like, “throwing his money” around, he bought my daughter, not his biological child, a car, bought all 3 kids cellphones and such trinkets. These are things he could have provided before all of this happened, so the timing was just really way off and I still question his motives… So there’s even more resentment and a suspicious mind on my part, we haven’t spoken but a few words since I moved out 2 months ago, most of our communication goes through email and even that very little. I know I need to improve on that but right now I have to concentrate on other things in my life for example getting myself healed and better, be there for the kids, sort through my own life and figure out what I am going to do with the rest of it and how to cope with loneliness which seems to become easier as the days go by, but then I have my youngest son every other week with me and that helps a great deal.

    Again thank you for your very touching responses, Matt I have to print yours out because it’s quite amazing, the love and care I am reading through your words are just so very touching, the support I am receiving here despite my short comings, the non-judgmental responses, it’s all new to me and it’s something I have to digest. I didnt think such kindness existed any more.
    Happy holidays and, yes it’s cliche, but JOY to the world and each and everyone of you!


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