I was reading an article in this month’s Essence called “Just Between Us Girls” which features actresses Nia Long, Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan. In one section of the article Nia Long talks about something that has been on my mind lately- forgiveness. She says, “One of the things I think is so important for all of us, everyone reading this too, is that you forgive yourself, you have to be kind to your spirit.”
Lately, I’ve been on this whole self-reflection journey. I’m thinking about a lot of things; what I can change about myself, what I need to work on, which things I need accept about myself and how to really love myself without becoming self-important or conceited. I think step one in my journey is to make peace with the past and forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made along the way. If Allah, Lord of the Worlds, can forgive me for my mistakes then I need to be able to forgive myself. Like a lot of Black women, I tend to be hard on myself (especially when it comes to Islam.) Now I’m learning to cut myself some slack. Alhamdulilah, I’ve come so far from where I used to be. I’ve grown so much. And I have to thank Allah for my success first and foremost but I also have to give myself some credit for following through.
1) I forgive myself for two failed relationships. Insha’allah these experiences have lead me to a better one. I’ve certainly learned some things about myself. I have a clearer idea about what I want from a relationship, what I don’t want, my capabilities and what not to do next time. Alhamdulilah, I feel like I’ve finally found someone who “gets me”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s half the battle.
2) I forgive myself for not being where I thought I’d be Islamically. Yes, several years ago I was riding on a spiritual high. I felt like I was at a good place in my deen. Then I moved to a new city, entered a new marriage and things started to slide downwards. But there’s hope for me yet. It can happen again by the grace of Allah. I just have to start from where I am now and not continue to think about where I was at then.
3) I forgive myself for not always being perfect. I don’t always say the right things, do the right things or think the right things. And it’s okay. Making mistakes is part of the human experience. I just need to seek Allah’s forgiveness, if it’s a person I’ve offended then I need to seek their forgiveness, learn from my mistakes and move on. The next time it happens (because it will) I need to repeat the same steps all over again.
A final thing I’ve come to realize is sometimes people can prevent you from forgiving yourself if you let them. Oh, people love to bring up what you did in the past or how wrong you were! All of that can start to weigh on you if you let it. Insha’allah I won’t. Some people don’t like change. They want you to stay the way you are (or were) so that the dynamics of your relationship can stay they way it is (or was). Insha’allah I won’t let anyone keep me a prisoner of the past.
This may sound corny but here is a healing exercise I plan to do ASAP. I’m writing down every single mistake I’ve made on a piece of paper. (Every mistake I can think of anyway). I’ll allow myself to reflect on those mistakes only for a few minutes. I’ll acknowledge that each of those mistakes has helped me to grow in some way. Once I finish doing that I’m going to take the paper, tear it into tiny pieces and throw it in the garbage. Then I’m going to move on with my life, insha’allah.
Let it Go Gyal!