It's time to forgive yourself

Kavita Srinivasan/Dubai
Filed on April 22, 2021

Your child makes mistakes, it’s okay. When you make mistakes, it’s also okay.

I have a confession — I’ve spent half my life not liking myself.

The self I know is broken.

I’ve been cracked in places that cannot be fixed.

I’ve been looking for people to love me but it hasn’t been enough…

I’m parched.

And I’m not alone…

We are the walking wounded. We carry hurt so deep it’s hard to heal, simply because it’s hard to see. We punish ourselves the way we were punished as children; we speak to ourselves the way we were spoken to in our childhood; we feel our worth only if we had present, loving parents who loved us regardless of our achievements.

Most of us didn’t. And that’s okay.

Our parents didn’t know any better. They learned it from their parents, who inherited it from their parents… the generational pattern repeats like a strangely pre-recorded program… no one ever questions it. And so, the pain reappears… till you wake up.

My husband, four-year-old son and I love playing tennis together. We play, there’s no pressure, there’s no need to be perfect or even play the game right… he’s four. We’re having fun. It’s taken me a long time to get here… to breathe the perfection of play without performance. I’ve never been a tennis player or any kind of athlete at all… and I felt my parents’ disappointment. They didn’t say a word; their wordless acknowledgement of my failure was enough. And so, I tried pushing my son to succeed where I had not. I felt anger when he didn’t hit the ball as well as his friends and irritation at his inability to excel immediately. I’ve been that mother… the one who walked over to her child and berated him for his lack of focus. He was three and laughed right in my face as I furiously begged him to focus.

The anger I felt in that moment was mine. The disappointment, only mine. I would never be all that I wanted to be. And if he could just be a superstar, maybe I would have done something right. It sounds ludicrous. No wonder he laughed. Thank God, he laughed.

I’ve spent many years hating myself for these moments. There have been many. Wanting him to stop crying.

Wanting him to not need me.

Wanting him to be an extrovert, not the introvert he is.

Wanting him to be daring and adventurous instead of anxious and sensitive.

After each ‘incident’ berating my son, I would cry, full of shame and self-loathing, hating the monster who had seemingly invaded me. But the more I punished myself, the worse I got. Why couldn’t I stop? The answer is simple…

How can we be kind to our children when don’t know how to be kind to ourselves?

I am compassionate… with others.

I am kind… to others.

I am patient… with others.

I am a rock… to others.

What would it feel like to be that person with me?

What would it feel like to be kind to me?

What would that sound like?

It would go something like this:

“You made a mistake. That is okay. I’m here for you.”

“You lost your temper. I understand why. I’m here with you.”

“You feel disappointment. You want more. I know. I understand.”

“I love you. You are enough. You never need to do anything to deserve my love.”

“You are perfect as you are. There is nothing you need to change to deserve my love. You have it no matter what.”

Forgive yourself.

When you show compassion to yourself, you will have compassion for your children.

When you love yourself unconditionally, you will love your children without condition.

You are broken and that is okay. The scars are what make us beautiful.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com