There is a song that I had been listening to a lot when I first moved home. "Sweet Forgiveness" by Susan Tedeschi was listened to quite a bit before that as well, most often after I had fucked something up. It talks about someone who has done wrong but has their lover there by their side, supporting them with love and helping them move on. I thought for a long time that I would always be forgiven by her but I was wrong. I stopped listening to that song a few weeks ago because it had become too painful. I had no one to forgive me and the pain of that realization was too much to take.
I've got this fortune cookie saying that I keep in my wallet which reads, "the first and only love is self-love." I guess I kept it because I knew it meant something, I just did not know what. Every time I would open my wallet I would see it and think about what it meant to me. I had heard the old adage, "you can't love another without loving yourself first," plenty of times in my life and I just brushed it off. I did love someone and I sure as hell wasn't so in love with myself so it didn't seem to apply much to me. I would often times be lead to another thought when I saw it, "maybe because I didn't love myself I didn't love her in the way she needed to be loved." Again, a thought too painful to think. I considered getting rid of the little slip of paper but for some reason never did.
I went to a meeting tonight, my usual Monday night one, which normally is a meeting on one of the twelve steps. I was a little excited when they said that we were having a topic meeting instead and that we would be discussing the topic which an old-timer named Kurt had chosen. He opened his mouth and as soon as the words "Self-Forgiveness" came out I knew there was someone somewhere that was trying to tell me something.
He asked that when he turned the topic over to the group for discussion that we concentrate our "shares" on how we had gone about forgiving ourselves for our past indiscretions. I sat there listening and realized that I didn't know how I went about forgiving myself which led me to the conclusion that I never really have. It seemed so clear to me that what was hindering my recovery, my love life and my overall happiness was my inability to love myself; a condition brought on by feeling guilty for everything I had done and the people I had hurt in the past.
I started thinking about how I had tried to atone for my sins and realized I had been beating myself up about each one of them for as long as I could remember. I guess deep down somewhere I had always thought that the way to make up for my errors was to destroy myself emotionally so that I felt the maximum amount of pain each time and would therefore be conditioned to avoid such hurt in the future. The problem was that I was fucking high every time I went through this process. High because I did not want to feel the extreme level of torment I had become so efficient inflicting myself which, something that in the end made me feel even worse. Sooner or later, after enough suffering, I would go back to my old friend self pity which got me right back to getting drunk of high and making the same mistakes I had fallen victim to time and time again.
I listened to that Susan Tedeschi song on the way home from the meeting and for the first time I found a different meaning in it. I can't rely on a woman, a friend or even a parent to forgive me for what I have done in the past. No, there is only one person whose forgiveness really matters in the long run: my own. You see, the first and only love is self-love. It all seemed to click so suddenly but in the same instant seemed so unattainable.
How does one who has been beating themselves to the bone over every mistake go about changing their frame of mind and cutting themselves a break? That is something I just haven't quite figured out yet, but is something I know I must learn to do if I ever plan on being happy again...or for the first time. I really quarrel with the notion of not crucifying myself after I have fucked up. I know it is a foolish and detrimental way to deal with my past but I know no other way. What is for certain is that I must find a way to take it easy on myself. I am my own worst critic, as most of us are, but I need to learn to be my own savior as well.
No forgiveness matters as much as my own but finding out how to get to that point is proving much more difficult than I ever imagined. I know I have to start somewhere but I just don't know how. I'm hoping that the answer will make itself clear with enough thought. I know it is in there somewhere.