When I new on this path and I was struggling with the realization of the place I found myself, the choices I had made, and the harm I had done to myself, it was suggested to me that I write a letter apologizing to my younger self. That suggestion stopped me in my tracks. The thought of the harm I had done to myself was already tough to come to terms with, but the thought of harming that innocent girl inside myself, the one I had failed to protect so miserably made my heart sink. I could see her, in my mind, that little me I used to be, full of hope, dreams and innocence, and so vulnerable to the world around her, I had let her down, time and time again, and had tried to extinguish her life as mine became unbearable. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was to face her and admit how I had let her down, but I was not at a place to argue or resist anything that would potentially help me heal from the place I was, so I put pen to paper.
Without thinking about it first, I started writing. I saw her face in my mind and humbly asked for her forgiveness. I wrote out all the ways I had failed to do what was best for her and asked for forgiveness for not believing she was worth doing the right thing for. As tears streamed down my face, the apology started to flow, all of it, nothing was left out, I couldn’t leave anything out I was told whatever I held back may be what keeps me sick. I wrote it all out, and then read it aloud. It was difficult to hear it all, to face what I had done, but it ended with asking for forgiveness for the choices I had made in the past, for hiding behind my illness, for wanting to extinguish that little self inside of me, and along with asking that forgiveness I made a promise to my younger self, of what I was aiming to do to change things moving forward, and how I was going to make better choices to love and nurture that younger me and the me today. I found the exercise extremely healing and in opening the dialogue with my younger self it kept me in connection with why I was working to make the changes I was and to get better. On the days I found challenging and the negative self-talk got loud it was still easy to throw myself under the bus, but it was difficult to throw my younger self under there with me after making her the promises I did, I would see her face and pick up my sword and keep fighting. As I got better I could see her smiling, cheering me on, and each time I hit a milestone I could feel her love, and with each milestone I continue to hit that is a demonstration of my love to her, and myself today.
I used this same exercise to find forgiveness in myself for making the mistakes I did, or choices of my past. I also wrote a letter to myself for the me that did not know any better, or, in the moment wasn’t able to do better, for not having the tools to navigate life in a healthy way and for not having the courage in the past for speaking my truth. Part of that forgiveness also came with a promise to myself to make the changes I needed to today to learn, to pick up the tools I needed and to make a living amends to myself to live in the light and to honor my commitment to better mental health. Both of these letters helped me a lot on my road of recovery, and my journey of forgiveness, which in turn, opened to the door to find forgiveness in others, but that forgiveness started with myself.
We all have let our younger selves down, or have harbored resentment for ourselves for mistakes we have made or choices that have lead us down a dark path. It’s important to forgive ourselves for what we did not know, or may not have been capable of at the time, and to make a commitment to our younger selves to do better today. Get out those pens SLAYERS, you may have some letters to write to set yourself free. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you harbor resentment for yourself for your past? What do you resent? Do you feel you knew better or should of done better? How? Do you look back and feel like you’ve failed your younger self? How? What can you do to make up for that today? What can you do to do better? How can you find forgiveness in yourself for what you’ve done? We can only do what we can with the tools we’ve been given or have picked up along the way, and even so, that doesn’t mean that we are always capable of using them as we should. Forgive yourself for the past, aim to do better today and when the days get challenging, fiercely protect your younger self to do what is right for you, and them.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you