In my journey toward healing, I have grappled with the issue of self-forgiveness. The guilt and shame that I experienced, is so deeply embedded in my psyche, that I have not been able to weed it out of my system. Logically, I understand that I have nothing to feel ashamed or guilty about. It was not my fault. But, I have not been able to believe that or convince myself otherwise.
During my therapy, I constantly complained that I was stuck on a plateau and could not make strides toward healing. I just could not get past that mental block and I was very frustrated, angry and depressed. My Therapist suggested that I write down a script for self-forgiveness which would enable me to bring out into the open, the issues that were bothering me. She instructed me to read this out to myself for 5 minutes each time, three times a day. This conversation with myself, she said, would help me to practice self-forgiveness. "Try, Try, Never Say Die" was my motto and I wrote the script below to help me forgive myself. I also found that whenever I felt depressed, looking at the positive aspects in my life, put perspective on the entire situation. It also helped me separate the present from the past.
Has this script helped me? YES! Did I religiously follow the three times routine each day? No! However, I do go over this script in my head whenever I feel overwhelmed with sadness or frustration. I cannot say that I have completely forgiven myself (even though there is nothing to forgive) but I am not assailed by the guilt and shame as frequently as before. Is that progress? Undoubtedly Yes--because it helps me to get on with my life in a normal manner.
I should forgive myself because:
- I did NOT do anything wrong.
- The difference in our ages and the power he wielded over me made the relationship very unequal. I had no power to resist his advances.
- I was attracted to him but this was because of my raging hormones. My body and mind responded normally to the stimuli. This was just a normal physiological reaction under the circumstances.
- I was just a kid, inexperienced and immature in these matters. I did not even understand the full implications of what was happening.
- I am not guilty of any moral sin. The incest was imposed on me. I did not initiate anything.
- I should not feel dirty about any aspect of this because I was not responsible for it. I had no means or resources to prevent it and so did the best I could.
- I did not behave in any dirty manner to bring the abuse upon myself or encourage it. I did NOT ask for it.
- I have NOTHING to feel ashamed of. All the shame belongs to him.
- I should be proud of myself to have put an end to it. I broke off relations with him and that took immense courage.
- I am a warm, loving person and should feel proud of my inner strength to have survived through this unfortunate situation.
- I am a good human being and this experience has taught me to be more honorable, considerate, respectful, mindful and kind toward people, especially youngsters, who trust me and look up to me. It has taught me to never take advantage of anyone’s weaknesses.
- I possess the strength of character that gave me the courage to have faced this situation on my own at that young age.
- I owe it to myself to forgive myself, accept my teenage self wholeheartedly along with all the weaknesses and faults
- Life is for the living and I am an optimistic person who believes in living life to the fullest. Self-forgiveness is the best gift I can give myself. Way to go girl!!!
I will focus on the positive aspects of my life and my achievements that have given me so much of satisfaction. To name a few:
- I am blessed with good health.
- I have a loving husband and family
- I have a satisfying career
- I am accomplished in my field of study and am satisfied with my academic achievements
- I have good friends and family that care about my well-being
- I have had the courage to face all the abuse perpetrated on me and have overcome the many hurdles that came in my way to reach where I am today
- I am proud that I was the first married person to graduate from my college
- I am happy that I have been able to help my family and other people in times of their needs
- I have given immense joy to my parents with all my achievements