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Author Topic: 6.13 | How Can We Forgive Ourselves?  (Read 23492 times)
LionDreamer
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« on: February 22, 2010, 03:45:34 PM »

How can we forgive ourselves?

“Why it is so hard to implement for yourself what you know is the best thing to do when you give advice to others?" ~ Better Tomorrow, February 20, 2010

“Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” ~Wilfred Peters, 1961

Much has been written about forgiving the people who have hurt us or who are causing us pain.  But there is very little written about forgiving ourselves.   This workshop is not about forgiving our abusers or those who didn’t protect us but about forgiving ourselves.  It’s about learning to silence that voice that berates us inside our own heads.  Many of us here on the Parent, Sibling and In-Law board have experienced abuse, often as children.  And everyone in a BP environment knows and understands what is means to live in “toxic chaos.”   Children will often take on the burden of the troubles of their lives.  It is so easy and common for children to believe:  



    • “If only I hadn’t behaved badly, my mother wouldn’t have had to hit me.”


    • “If only I was quieter, my father wouldn’t have needed to drink.”


    • “If only I was a better child, my parents could have loved me.”


    [/list]  

    To put it simply, we learn the patterns of beating ourselves up.  

    As we grow up, we learn that what happened to us isn’t our fault but still we often carry that burden of guilt and shame built on the foundation that somehow this all happened because we deserved it or we did something wrong.  And those patterns of beating ourselves up for things we don’t cause and can’t stop become all the harder to change.  And then when we really do mess up, we tend to beat ourselves up all the harder, even though making mistakes is part of being human and we all make mistakes at times.  

    In this workshop, we will discuss:



      • What are the red flags that we are harboring inner guilt, or that we are beating ourselves up needlessly?


      • What are the red flags that we are being overcritical of ourselves?


      • How do we learn to recognize these red flags and how do we learn to forgive ourselves?


      [/list]  

      For none of us need to be carrying around the burden of such guilt.  

      The purpose of this workshop is to explore these questions.  If any of you have some stories or techniques you have used to forgive yourself please share with us.   Also please feel free to share any stories you have where you did something you felt was wrong and how you were able to forgive yourself.  

      « Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 07:11:37 PM by Harri » Logged


      kkriesel
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      « Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 11:42:11 PM »

      This topic couldn't come at a better time for me.  I only feel guilt in relation to my uBPDm (at this point in life, at least) when I feel like I'm proving her right.  This happened today - she said that I didn't want to stay at her place after taking care of the errands there I needed to do.  As soon as she said that, it was true; I tried to change the subject and, when she repeated her statement, I politely left.  Before I made it out the door, she lectured me a bit about my student loans.

      Now I feel a lot of guilt over both my financial situation and over proving her right.  There is nothing more I can do about my financial situation (this is my therapist talking) and I know, now, that I don't need to stick around someone who tries to make me feel lousy. 

      It seems to me that I've accomplished the biggest step: leaving when she tries to make me as miserable as she is.  Her feelings aren't my responsibility.  But I feel like I'm being controlled whether I stay or leave since she predicts that I'll leave - the guilt is the control.
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      « Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 06:15:48 AM »

      This is such a great workshop. I struggle with guilt and self-criticism so much. I'll have to go mull it over a bit. It seems that so much of the pain we struggle with feeds into itself, so that it's all one self-administering network: guilt -> worthlessness -> fear of punishment -> feeling undeserving -> guilt over being such an undeserving person -> worthlessness -> fear -> helplessness -> guilt, all of those things strengthening each other.

      Just naming what's happening helps already.
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      BMama
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      « Reply #3 on: February 23, 2010, 11:13:48 AM »

      It is a vicious cycle.

      Thank you for starting this, LD.

      I'm going to be watching to see where I maybe can leap in and help and get help on this.

      xoxox
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      « Reply #4 on: February 23, 2010, 11:15:33 AM »

      I have spent many hours wondering what I could have done different, what I could have don to make my uBPDmom see my needs or see me, why I was in the wrong place in life, why I had not been more true to myself, why I did not know who I really was etc etc.

      One night, several years ago now, I was out walking late at night in the town where I lived then, and walking down one small street I suddenly realized something. It was such a big life-changing insight to me, that I can still remember the moment although it is more than 10 years ago; where I was walking, what it felt like and looked like. And the thing I realized was this:

      Knowing the way the human mind works, and knowing that I have always done the best i could, I suddenly realized that

      put in the same circumstances, with the same options, being the same person I was at the time of the choice, I would make the same choices all over again because it was the best I could do then. No matter if I could re-live my life I would have to do the same choices, because they were the best for me at that time! And my life right now is the result of all my choices, of all those times that I did he best I could. And if I continue to do my best that is enough, and will bring me to what is the best for ME.

      And it was such a relief to feel that I could not have done different considering my knowledge, experience and actual options. And whenever I feel guilty or bad today I can remember that moment and that insight, and it helps me to accept the present situation as it is. Because it is as good as it can be, and that is enough.

      Smiling (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #5 on: February 23, 2010, 12:25:29 PM »

      What's been helping me most recently is two things:

      1. Simply noticing when feelings and thoughts that are very harsh and negative come up. Just to notice is a huge part of the battle because these things are so internalized and habitual, they are now unconscious.

      2. Trying to think and act the opposite as much as possible. Like, if I am doing something hard, I mentally pat myself on the back. Praise myself when I do something well. Think things like, "you had a tough and busy day. Now do something to help yourself relax and rest up."

      The more kind thoughts you have towards yourself, the less room and processor power goes to the negative ones.

      I find if I try to argue with the negative ones or "dissuade" them, it's about as effective as dissuading Momster from the position that I am a bad person: not at all, the thoughts just come on stronger. I end up spending days arguing with myself in circles, and all it does is give me a headache.

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      « Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 12:37:40 PM »

      Excerpt
      Also please feel free to share any stories you have where you did something you felt was wrong and how you were able to forgive yourself. 



      I did a couple of things in the last three years that I feel were huge mistakes. I've done a lot of crying and beating myself up over them. I am starting to move on from that, even though it's tough going.

      Mistake one was quitting a perfectly good full-time job at a perfectly good ad agency, to work freelance, and then turning down a job offer from another to take an art study sabbatical.

      How I am starting to forgive myself: I made what I thought was the best decision at the time. First, I felt less financially vulnerable because I was strongly connected with Momster and felt that I had a safety net I could count on. Second, I was trying to protect myself when I quit. When I left my job, the agency was starting to turn into a sweatshop, and there were some ugly politics brewing. On top of that, I wanted to have periods of downtime when I could focus on my art practice.

      For a couple of years, the freelancer/contractor work format worked very well for me. I feel too vulnerable for it now, and want the security of a permanent job with benefits, but that doesn't mean it was a stupid decision, or that I made it frivolously.

      Mistake two was doing the study sabbatical on credit, and now being up to my ears in debt I won't be able to pay off in full.

      How I am starting to forgive myself: I may have gone about it the wrong way, but I was trying to honour something that is really important to me. And again, when I made that decision, I hadn't yet separated from Momster and did not know just how financially vulnerable it would leave me. AND I was also listening to all the arguments Momster was making, to spur me on to do it, and while it was a mistake to do that, I was doing the best I could in the face of sneaky, well-disguised emotional abuse and constant manipulation.

      Finally, one strategy I learned from my CBT counsellor is, OK. Admit you made a mistake. What did you learn and what will you do differently in the future? When I started to think this way, I realized it gave me power back. I can't change my past mistakes. But I CAN change what I do from now on!
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      BMama
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      « Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 02:07:53 PM »

      Very good, Random.

      It's almost akin to a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" type thing, right?

      Hindsight is always 20/20, for one.  And for two... .hindsight in the far off future will view your decisions much more kindly than you even have here. 

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      AFinallyFreeWoman
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      « Reply #8 on: February 23, 2010, 02:42:25 PM »

      Forgive myself?  What's that?  Okay... .in all honesty, this is my absolute worst problem in my life.  I haven't found a way to forgive myself yet for something I did when I was 7. 

      I feel like the only kid in class who forgot to do their homework... .

      I'm going to be paying a lot of attention to this thread.  I'd love to see how other people have found ways to forgive themselves. 
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      LionDreamer
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      « Reply #9 on: February 23, 2010, 09:10:17 PM »

      kkreisel, I think you brought up an interesting point that guilt can be a trigger that makes it’s easy for us blame ourselves for the abuse as if we are at fault for the unhappiness of someone else.   For many of you this will be a reminder of what it means to be in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt)  Understanding how these emotions effect us, control us, hurt us is an important first step toward clearer thinking.  Below is a link to our workshop on FOG

      https://bpdfamily.com/content/emotional-blackmail-fear-obligation-and-guilt-fog


      Random and better tomorrow both made the excellent point that self knowledge is an important factor in self-forgiveness.  You both basically said:  “I did the best I could under the circumstances I was dealing with at the time.” You’ll be happy to know that Confucius agrees with you.  He said much the same:  "the more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself."

      Random you also made an excellent point that admitting to our own mistakes and working to prevent ourselves from repeating those mistakes is a powerful way to regain ones sense of an unwounded self.  Yes, we can’t change the past but we can affect the future.   Random, I also think it is important that you honored something important to you and perhaps even more important that you recognize it. 

      BMama, I have to say I don’t agree with you that hindsight is always 20/20.  I think very often that we have to go back to situations that were painful and work to “remember” how hard we tried.   But I do think you are right on in pointing out that hindsight in the future will judge us far more kindly than we do ourselves. 

      AFinallyFreeWoman:  I think you will find many of us here who never did their homework (and I can tell you my son never did his!)

      To review here are some steps to self-forgiveness:

      1)   Recognizing when we are in FOG

      2)   Remembering ourselves when we did the very best we could under extremely difficult circumstances.

      3)   Learning to know thyself

      4)   Admitting to your own mistakes

      5)   Honoring what is important to you

      6)   Recognizing that the future will be judging us more kindly than we do ourselves so we can work to bring the future closer, faster.

      Now that we are beginning to lay out some of the steps lets focus on some of the other key questions:

      What are the red flags that we are beating ourselves up needlessly?  How do we know when we are harboring inner guilt?  

      For myself, a red flag that I am beating myself up is that I can’t stop thinking about an incident.  When I can recognize that my mind is moving in circles I have to just stop and figure out what is underlying the incident.  Usually if I can find the trigger that made me feel like I had done something stupid (which makes me feel ashamed) or I had been inattentive to someone else’s needs (which makes me feel guilty) then I can work out a plan to make it better such as speak to the person I may have hurt or ask myself, “if someone else had done this, would I have thought their actions were stupid?” and that answer is almost always no. 

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      « Reply #10 on: February 23, 2010, 09:15:44 PM »

      Love this thread.  This is a HUGE problem for me.  I think, as children, we actually feel safer believing that we are responsible or "at fault."  If we caused the reaction or our momster then we must have at least a little control, right?  I think it's the child struggling to feel that there must be some way of controlling the situation.  

      Now, unfortunately, it is completely automatic and reflexive.  I often feel bad on top of it because I feel that I am trying to make the situation "all about me" which sounds very narcissistic.  When you realize the origin of the reaction, you realize it is not as much narcissistic as a survival strategy.

      I have made very, very little headway with this one.  Mostly I feel responsible for taking care of everyone and keeping everyone happy... . like I used to do for my momster.  If they are happy, I will be safe.  If they are not happy... . oh boy!  

      So, I often feel responsible for people's bad feelings or problems.  It's so exhausting.  
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      « Reply #11 on: February 23, 2010, 09:18:01 PM »

      You are right, LD.  Always is much too strong of a term to use.  Hindsight can give us the ability to see more clearly if we have to tools to allow ourselves to do so.  That work better?   Smiling (click to insert in post) Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #12 on: February 23, 2010, 10:26:36 PM »

      I gave a baby up for adoption when I was a teen. I am glad not to have kids and have no interest in being a parent never have. But I think that I've been punishing myself... .I was with an alcoholic and abusive guy at that time... .I think I still have guilt about not being parental or about not wanting kids. And I think my bad relatiinships have been a way of punishing myself.


      I haven't forgiven myself for that and also haven't forgiven myself for choosing abusive partners. So I punish myself more then I feel bad about that and on and on... .its a vicious cycle... .

      This thread ... .I'm following it closely. Between this and the positive entitlement thread I've had a lot of breakthroughs on this board lately! Thanks
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      « Reply #13 on: February 23, 2010, 10:44:18 PM »

      Thanks for this workshop, LionDreamer, and to all who have participated so far. Interesting and perhaps relevant quote, from Overcoming Traumatic Stress: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, by Claudia Herbert and Ann Wetmore:

      Excerpt
      In your attempts to create meaning from what has happened, in other words, to make sense of what was senseless, there is a danger that you will develop a heightened degree of self-blame, holding yourself responsible for a tragedy over which you have no control... .Frequently, the standard of behavior we expect from ourselves in this respect far exceeds what we would expect from any other human being.

      The habit of self-blame, "making sense of what was senseless," forms in childhood and then we carry it forward. The self-blame is there when we're not actually at fault and also when we are at fault, perhaps in the extreme ("standard of behavior we expect from ourselves... .far exceeds... .".

      LionDreamer asked:

      What are the red flags that we are beating ourselves up needlessly?  How do we know when we are harboring inner guilt?   

      She mentions circular thought patterns. Random mentions noticing the thoughts and bringing them to consciousness. There's definitely a script in there for me. Red flags would be:

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Noticing in my self-talk if I use certain words ("stupid" is a good one  )

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) A specific feeling of shame, very physical, like the feeling of blushing (like a red tide sweeping through me)

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Talking to myself. Usually I do this silently, but I don't always withhold the gestures. 

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Avoidance. If I avoid a certain train of thought but have it circle back unbidden or avoid a particular person or situation. Sometimes I avoid things for other reasons (PTSD triggers and also normal reasons!), but avoidance can be a Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) for guilt.

      B&W
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      « Reply #14 on: February 24, 2010, 03:44:26 AM »

      just wanted to add that its a common belief that children in abusive situations blame themselves as a way to try to maintain some control in the situation. i don't personally believe this.  i think its a case of we feel love and trust for them naturally as our mothers and believe them.  sadly due to their warped reality they don't love, trust us or have our best interests at heart.  i think its the denial of that reality that is so painful and unnatural to accept and in trying to make sense of such an unnatural behaviour, we believe that we must have done something wrong to cause it. we have done nothing wrong.  we are good people who had bad parents.

      in fact the reason they had us was to create hostages to vent all their anger and sickness onto.  so the sickness was there long before we were, and now i am nc with ubp/NPDm her sickness continues with my sisters.  how could it be our fault?  how could we be guilty of anything?
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      « Reply #15 on: February 24, 2010, 05:27:28 PM »

      I beat myself up for lots of things. I knew even before I knew what was wrong with foo that their negative comments have ruined many a "good day" for me. I internalized the negative comments and beat myself up FOR them even when they were miles away and I was LC.

      I was a work-a-holic because I just had to be perfect with everything in my life. I was never thin enough, fit enough, rich enough, happy enough, smart enough, etc. Like my uBPD mother was sitting on my shoulder through my life coaching me to self-destruct so she could have a good laugh.

      Stress induced illnesses pop up whenever I am overcritical and over anxious about any scenario. Worst was when my sibling passed away and I was at the scene. I felt guilt (still do sometimes) that I couldn't "bring him back". That guilt nearly killed me with ulcers and weight gain. Then I stayed too long in a relationship when it grew toxic. Beat myself up pretty darn good for years.

      I had to analyze and overanalyze the situation until I realized his death wasn't my fault. Neither is my foo's BPD my fault. How I REACT to these problems is my real concern. It's not what happens to you that counts. It's how you come out of it that counts.
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      « Reply #16 on: February 24, 2010, 09:37:59 PM »

      ask myself, “if someone else had done this, would I have thought their actions were stupid?” and that answer is almost always no. 

      This really speaks to me because I hadn't put myself in someone elses shoes before and looked at myself from an outside point of view. 

      When a friend of mine was murdered by her boyfriend of 1 year, I blamed myself for years for not protecting her because I knew her boyfriend for about 3 or 4 years and knew he was violent.  If I took a minute to look at myself from an outside point of view, I would have realized that anyone else in my position would've did what I had done.  He threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend of 10 years a few times in front of me and I thought he was going to kill her so I protected her.  I was looking almost in the opposite direction because I thought his anger was still pointed at his ex.  Anyone would have thought the same thing I did.

      I finally did put the responsibility where it belonged a few years after it happened.  I blamed myself as if I were completely responsible and it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I didn't kill her, he did.  He was the one responsible for the heartache and pain of the people who loved her.  Not me... .

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      « Reply #17 on: February 25, 2010, 07:44:47 AM »

      I have been reading lately about how to change one's actions and attitudes, and read that while we cannot control what comes into our minds, we can control what we return to and think about deliberately.  I thought this was very freeing, and have begun to put it into practice with anger - if someone irritates me, I immediately react with anger, but then I have a choice, whether to continue to think about that situation and let it make me more angry or whether to think about something else - the weather, what I will have for dinner tonight, anything else.  That might be something to put into practice with self-forgiveness too - if we start thinking how lazy and selfish we are or whatever, we can let those thoughts go and replace with with positive thoughts as random and BMama suggest - how we will do things differently in the future or just positive self-talk about how we have good intentions and generally try very hard to do the right thing, and so on.  It might be helpful to have permission to have these thoughts - because the truth is we cannot completely control  what thoughts come into our heads - but also a plan for what to do when these thoughts are damaging.  The truth is everyone has damaging thoughts, everyone has a part of themselves that is self-destructive, and the problem is that our parents let that part of themselves roam wild rather than demonstrating strategies for not letting those impulses get in the way of how we really want to live our lives. 
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      « Reply #18 on: February 25, 2010, 01:17:51 PM »

      salome, great post Smiling (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #19 on: February 25, 2010, 01:46:50 PM »

      I want to thank everyone who is participating for your thoughtful and important contributions:

      We are getting a strong list of red flags that can alert us to when we are beating ourselves up needlessly:

      Pooh2 pointed out about how we seek to control our environment and as a survival mechanism we often take the blame for troubles onto ourselves.

      Anker spoke about how she punished herself through bad relationships.

      B&W brought the issues of self-talk, that red tide of shame, talking to self and avoidance.

      Backtome09 used work-a-holism and seeking to be perfect.  She also referred to self-induced illness.

      AFinallyFreeWoman took responsibility for the actions of someone else.

      Healing home, I love your validation statement:  “We have done nothing wrong.  We are good people who had bad parents.”  I will add this onto the first list - steps to stop the beating up process.   I know with my own alcoholic father, I remember feeling very clearly that if only I was somehow a better daughter or a better person or could do things better then he wouldn’t need to drink.  It took me well into my 30s even 40s to grow into knowing that I had no part in his drinking, that it was his choice and his alone.   

      Salome also presented with a really good strategy for learning to turn around this vicious cycle; taking control when negative thoughts come into our minds and replacing them with positive thoughts.   

      To put the red flags into a list:

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) People pleasing (and the extension of making ourselves into doormats for someone else)

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Setting ourselves up in bad relationships (and the extension is setting ourselves up for failure)

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Using negative self-talk

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Feeling that red blush of shame

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Talking to oneself

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Avoiding a situation

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Work-a-holism (and the extension of any addiction)

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Self-induced illness

      Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) Taking responsibility for the actions of someone else or of something that we had no control over.

      I am going to ask the questions again to see if we can add to our lists:

      What are the red flags that we are beating ourselves up needlessly?  (2nd list)

      What steps can we take when we notice ourselves engaging in beating up thinking?  (1st list)

      Lion Dreamer

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      « Reply #20 on: February 26, 2010, 07:38:20 PM »

      As a mother of an uBPD, I feel guilty that somehow I may have done something, or not done something, that added to her illness. All parents feel regret. I've often said if I had it to do over again, I'd just make different mistakes.

      But my daughter (age 50) WANTS me to feel guilty for the awful, terrible life she thinks she has had. She never lets up reminding me how terribly unhappy she was as a child. When I said, "Gosh, you seemed like a happy little kid," she said "I was faking it." She just won't let go of whatever it is she hates me for. But I've just about worn out my guilt gland. I've reached the point where I think I'm no longer responsible for her happiness. I've provided financial support and help with her kids, so that she will have a better chance to be happy, but nothing helps. I'm so tired; but I'm not guilty.
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      « Reply #21 on: February 26, 2010, 09:30:02 PM »

      When someone is treating me poorly or I feel hurt, and I start to excuse it, I think that is a big sign to me that I am punishing myself.

      I don't know how to let go and treat myself with forgiveness. It's like I am clueless about how not to hold a grudge against myself.
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      « Reply #22 on: February 27, 2010, 12:17:09 AM »

      Excerpt
      When someone is treating me poorly or I feel hurt, and I start to excuse it, I think that is a big sign to me that I am punishing myself.

      Gosh, that's so true, anker.

      Excerpt
      What are the red flags that we are beating ourselves up needlessly?

      Here's an exercise from Surviving the Borderline Parent that's a start on helping to sort out "beating self up needlessly" from "may have made legitimate error and it would be good to act on that (apologize, change in future)"... .with neither meaning you are a bad person.  xoxo

      Excerpt
      Am I Guilty?

      [When you experience feelings of guilt and responsibility], ask yourself the following questions:

      1. Is (or was) the criticism aimed at me in proportion to the perceived offense? (Either way, acknowledge that you're human and humans make mistakes.)

      2. Did I violate a boundary the other person had communicated to me?

      3. Did I make a promise or commitment I didn't keep?

      4 Was I truly responsible? Did I have control over the outcome?

      5. What was my intention or motivation?

      6. What does my gut or intuition tell me about the situation and my level of responsibility?

      7. Given a similar set of circumstances, would my close friends (or someone else you admire) think I was responsible?

      8. Were any of my words or actions efforts at self-protection or self-preservation?

      Also:

      9. What are the costs of feeling guilty when you're really not responsible? Does it sap your energy or emotional strength, take time away from your family, or affect your health?

      10. Are there ways in which feeling guilty serves you in your relationship with your [BPD relative (or another person)]? Doe sit make you feel more in control, perhaps? Are there other ways it serves you?

      11. What do you stand to gain by giving up your feelings of guilt and responsibility?

      If you determine that your feelings of guilt are actually warranted, then consider the ways in which you might address and correct your actions. If you determine that some of your feelings of guilt are not warranted, you'll have to work on letting go of them, and not accepting any more blame than your fair share.

      B&W

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      « Reply #23 on: February 27, 2010, 06:53:10 AM »

      I'm SO glad you brought up this part from the book, B&W.  I got stuck in the forgiveness chapter the other night.  I'm gonna think about it more, and see if others contribute to this exercise so I can maybe understand it better.

      Thanks!
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      « Reply #24 on: February 28, 2010, 06:35:43 PM »

      For everyone who has contributed, a great big thank you!  I think it is time to move on.  I originally listed these as steps to self-forgiveness but I am not going to rename them as strategies.  I think they can be viewed as steps but because they are in no particular order I think strategies is a better definition.

      1)   Recognizing when we are in FOG

      2)   Remembering ourselves when we did the very best we could under extremely difficult circumstances.

      3)   Learning to know thyself

      4)   Admitting to your own mistakes

      5)   Honoring what is important to you

      6)   Recognizing that the future will be judging us more kindly than we do ourselves so we can work to bring the future closer, faster.

      7)   Stopping the cycle of compulsive negative thinking by replacing with positive thoughts.


      I would like to ask if anyone has any stories of how they were able to implement any of the above strategies (or any others you might have) to release a sense of guilt and that feeling that we are unforgiveable to ourselves. 

      Cwotton wrote an excellent example of #2, when she recognized that she did the best she could under the very difficult circumstances. 

      I know in my own life, #4 has been very important.  I have found that admitting my own mistakes and making atonement if possible and/or necessary has been key to forgiving myself for my failings.   One of my patterns is that when I feel barraged by anger or any strong emotion coming at me from others, I find it hard to think straight and will say angry or mean things as my defense mechanism.  Years ago I didn’t even recognize the pattern.  Then when I first began to recognize the pattern it took me some time maybe even a few days before I could understand that the pattern happened yet again and than apologize if necessary.  Now, I am finding that I usually recognize that pattern rather quickly and have learned to either hold my tongue or if I have snapped out at someone, apologize in the moment.  By recognizing and apologizing I am able to let it go and move on.  Previously I might have held onto it for a long time - all that time feeling like something was wrong with me.  But when I recognize, own and make amends for my mistakes, I find I can let it go. 

      I know this is a very challenging topic for most of us because we feel so damaged inside us, its difficult not to turn it inward.  By sharing stories we can not only share successes but provide examples for others to follow. I invite anyone with a story to share.  Even a small step to self-forgiveness is valuable.

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      « Reply #25 on: February 28, 2010, 09:11:00 PM »

      Liondreamer

      This is a wonderful workshop.  thank you.  I will think about the questions you have raised and see if I have anything to add to the conversation.

      MO
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      « Reply #26 on: March 01, 2010, 08:30:19 AM »

      Thank you LD-good topic. I've thought about this very topic so many times through the years... .You know, my uBPDmother lied, manipulated, chaosed, crisised, etc. for years. Up close and personal it was ugly. But on the other hand, she really DIDN'T mislead me at all. All those years, the themes remained constant; although the details/people may have changed, she herself was very, very consistent. I just kept responding-responding-responding in an attempt to create what I wanted/needed and becoming frustrated/hurt/angry/fearful. She didn't deceive me as much as I deceived myself into believing I could, by force of sheer will and tenacity change a snake into a butterfly. This whole situation (I'm speaking about myself as an adult) was as much about me as it was about her. In refusing to come to terms with what reality presented I continued to expend myself in pursuit of a dream that she kept showing me was impossible to achieve. All my history with her made not one iota of difference in her life, our relationship. This became stunningly clear after NC: from what I understand the craziness continued until her death. You can be sure she's taught me some powerful lessons about myself, what it means to be human, what it means to live in this world.
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      « Reply #27 on: March 01, 2010, 08:30:52 AM »

      I think I took a big step toward #3 recently.  I realized that I feel very uncomfortable when people ask me what I want, or try to be solicitous of me and make me happy.  I get very nervous and anxious, because I am afraid that if I am not happy with their efforts, they will be disappointed and upset, and even if I am happy, will I be happy enough (the truth is, though I am generally a happy person, I have a bit of a critical gaze and can find a fault with anything, so it's hard to find something that I am 100% happy with).  It's hard for me to let go and be honest about my feelings and accept that if the other person really wants to make me happy then they will want to know if there is something I am not satisfied with, and if they just want me to fake it, then it is really about themselves wanting validation and not about me, and it's not my job to provide them with that validation.  I have such a sense of shame at "making them feel bad" though!  And it's really unfortunate because this behavior pattern virtually guarantees that I'll be disappointed, because I didn't say what I really wanted, I just pretended to be happy with whatever I got!  Being clear about what I want really feels like an unforgivable sin.  Wish I could get over this... .
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      « Reply #28 on: March 01, 2010, 08:40:16 AM »

      All those years, the themes remained constant; although the details/people may have changed, she herself was very, very consistent. I just kept responding-responding-responding in an attempt to create what I wanted/needed and becoming frustrated/hurt/angry/fearful. She didn't deceive me as much as I deceived myself into believing I could, by force of sheer will and tenacity change a snake into a butterfly.

      This is so, so familiar.  Maybe it's related to being involved in these relationships as teenagers.  As we all know, teenagers don't have a good sense of where their limits are, they think they can do anything and nothing bad will happen to them.  It's only with age that we realize there are battles we cannot win and should not try.  Maybe it's a step toward forgiving ourselves to realize that it's not that we're so arrogant or delusional, it's just a natural part of this developmental stage to commit yourself 100% to impossible goals, and this is in fact the great strength of this time in one's life - the ability to throw yourself into achieving your dream.  And many times in history, this type of dedication has resulted in stunning achievements!  It was just our misfortune that the goal we dedicated ourselves to was a truly fruitless one... .the goal of changing someone else's personality and behavior rather than saving the rainforest or ending racism. 

      Sorry for the double post, I just couldn't not respond to this great comment! 
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      « Reply #29 on: March 01, 2010, 06:22:48 PM »

      I read this bit in a blog entry by Roger Ebert, where he talks about the article written about him in Esquire, and featuring a big honking picture of his devastated-by-illness face:

      Excerpt
      If we think we have physical imperfections, obsessing about them is only destructive. Low self-esteem involves imagining the worst that other people can think about you. That means they're living upstairs in the rent-free room.

      He is talking, of course, about letting other people live rent-free in your head. I think this is such a great insight. If we think the worst of ourselves, could it be that we actually think the worst that has been told to us about ourselves by other people? If we think kindly of ourselves, that means a certain amount of negative judgement simply has to be denied entry. And that's a big part of forgiving ourselves, isn't it? Judging not, because we've been bloody judged enough already.

      And I think his insight about not obsessing about physical imperfections could also apply to not obsessing about one's imperfections, period.

      Ebert has been a huge inspiration to me lately. An amazing example of how to stay compassionate to yourself and to be accepting of yourself AND of those adversities you can't change. And of how to rise above them.
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      « Reply #30 on: March 01, 2010, 06:43:48 PM »

      Perfect, Random. But until I was willing to accept my BPDmother for being who she was and DEMONSTRATED TO ME REPEATEDLY I couldn't rise, hell, I couldn't get out of my own way-never mind hers'. I think I used a poor analogy when I used "snake-butterfly." It could just have easily been "rock-flower," "cat-dog" what ever. My issue was not recognizing what I couldn't change and accepting what was; it's almost like, ":)on't take this personally Immadone, it's not about you, it's just the way it is." Mon Dieu, if I could have charged rent for the space she occupied in my brain, I'd be a rich woman. But that's what I chose, because I didn't realize I had choices, didn't have the self-confidence to respond to what I felt based on what was right under my nose/experience.
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      « Reply #31 on: March 01, 2010, 06:51:17 PM »

      Excerpt
      Mon Dieu, if I could have charged rent for the space she occupied in my brain, I'd be a rich woman.

      Truer words never spoken, mon ami!

      Oh, just to clarify, I wasn't directing my post at you, just a general sharing of "isn't this neato and fitting?"
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      « Reply #32 on: March 01, 2010, 08:58:21 PM »

      Many thanks, random, and I didn't take it that way either! I'm just saying I was so bent on "changing" her/or our relationship I never realized I was asking for something she never could have provided! That's on me, not her Being cool (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #33 on: March 02, 2010, 06:09:22 AM »

      I'm in the starting to realize I can't change her part... .I just can't figure out how to get by the renting space in my head part.  I guess I'm still mixed up in the anger part, then.   ?
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      « Reply #34 on: March 02, 2010, 06:30:01 AM »

      Excerpt
      I was so bent on "changing" her/or our relationship I never realized I was asking for something she never could have provided! That's on me, not her

      And that's where I egg you on to forgive yourself for that  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      I'm onlly starting to figure out how to go about the eviction process. I would really like to stop treating myself as my abusers treated me, but it's incredible how habitual the process has become and how well-worn those grooves are.
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      « Reply #35 on: March 02, 2010, 06:34:30 AM »

      You know Random, I was thinking after I posted above... .the fact that we feel any guilt, any anger, any NEED to forgive ourselves at all for our relationship (or lack thereof) with our PARENTS ought to be a clear sign, right? 

      Sheesh, I feel like I need to WAKE UP!
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      « Reply #36 on: March 02, 2010, 05:58:49 PM »

      An interesting discussion is developing which I certainly want to encourage.   I think we are all finding it hard to come up with specific stories of how we have worked on self-forgiveness because this is such a difficult issue.  But I do think working through our thoughts on this can lead us to some discoveries.

      But on the other hand, she really DIDN'T mislead me at all. All those years, the themes remained constant; although the details/people may have changed, she herself was very, very consistent. I just kept responding-responding-responding in an attempt to create what I wanted/needed and becoming frustrated/hurt/angry/fearful. She didn't deceive me as much as I deceived myself into believing I could, by force of sheer will and tenacity change a snake into a butterfly.

       

      immadone, I wonder if she did deceive you but through the years and the conditioning you took it into yourself and began to shoulder the blame as if the very ideas came originally from you.  I think we are hard-wired in our humanness to feel that we SHOULD love our mother and even have a loving, nurturing relationship.  So the deception you felt of yourself would have been the most normal reaction of a child that was taken and twisted by BPD toxicity. 

      Mon Dieu, if I could have charged rent for the space she occupied in my brain, I'd be a rich woman. But that's what I chose, because I didn't realize I had choices, didn't have the self-confidence to respond to what I felt based on what was right under my nose/experience.

      immadone, How did you come to this realization and gain self-confidence?

      Being clear about what I want really feels like an unforgivable sin.  Wish I could get over this... .

      salome, it sounds like you are coming to understand what it is that makes you happy and that is a HUGE step.  Is it so hard to be clear to others because you are just learning yourself, because there is shame attached to this or because if you had make your wants, needs and wishes clear in your FOO you would have been hammered?

      It was just our misfortune that the goal we dedicated ourselves to was a truly fruitless one... .the goal of changing someone else's personality and behavior rather than saving the rainforest or ending racism. 

      I wonder salome, though, if this is a process we children of BPDs need to go through in order to learn, in order to become the people we are.

      we think the worst of ourselves, could it be that we actually think the worst that has been told to us about ourselves by other people? If we think kindly of ourselves, that means a certain amount of negative judgement simply has to be denied entry. And that's a big part of forgiving ourselves, isn't it? Judging not, because we've been bloody judged enough already.

      And I think his insight about not obsessing about physical imperfections could also apply to not obsessing about one's imperfections, period.

      Yes, random, yes part of self-forgiveness is the process of not judging ourselves with the harsh eye of our parents.

      the fact that we feel any guilt, any anger, any NEED to forgive ourselves at all for our relationship (or lack thereof) with our PARENTS ought to be a clear sign, right? 

      Sheesh, I feel like I need to WAKE UP!

      Don't we all need to wake up BMama, don't we all.  I have always felt it ironic that the victim/survivor of abuse is the one left with the baggage not the one doing the abuse.  Still I have come to learn that it is through this process of healing our baggage that we grow to become complete people. 

      There was a story in Tikkun magazine many years ago, A wounded angry young man drew a picture of himself filled with holes as he began therapy.  After therapy he was able to say about his initial picture, (this is a paraphrase), it is through these holes that the light shines through, it is through these wholes that I have learned what light is. 

      One main them I see developing here is the enormous judgement we children of BPD parents put on ourselves and the anger, guilt and shame that often blocks our healing.  We all seem to carry so deeply within us the feeling that we are damaged to our core and only by our harsh judgement can we face the world.  This is self talk that needs to change.   We need to view our damaged selfs through the lenses of others and recognize the courage it takes to look inward in the face of such devastation.  This is something everyone who has been exploring this difficult topic can be proud of. 

      And so our process continues:   How have we managed to let go of that self-judgement, even for a day, for a moment? 

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      « Reply #37 on: March 02, 2010, 06:47:23 PM »

      We are avoiding some of your questions, aren't we?

      I don't know if I can vocalize this, yet, I guess... .
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      « Reply #38 on: March 02, 2010, 06:52:35 PM »

      Well, after tonight, here's a thing that has been very healing for me: doing a meeting with a group of people.

      By meeting, in my case, I mean some gathering at my church. I've been to a few different ones. One was a pre-Christmas dinner the minister organized for people who were struggling with family issues and needed space to not be having to fake holiday spirit, and to share and support each other through the struggle. Another was a series of evenings for church "newbies", where we discussed what we do and don't believe, a sort of questing skeptic group. Tonight, we all walked a labyrinth together, a silent walking meditation that brought a powerful sense of connection through the shared spiritual experience.

      What these gatherings have done for me is silence the voice inside that harangues me all day long about all the ways in which I am wrong, damaged, stupid, etc. When I am in this circle and experiencing acceptance and warmth from others, I feel nurtured and human.

      I don't know if this is "psychologically correct" in the sense that ideally, self-love and nurture does need to come from within, but we are all human and we all need a sense of belonging with fellow beings. If our injuries come from being rejected and ostracized, it makes sense that having the opposite experience offers a counterbalance.
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      « Reply #39 on: March 02, 2010, 07:03:16 PM »

      I agree completely, Random.  I'm so glad you had this experience.  Just reading about it is powerful to me.

      Thanks!
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      « Reply #40 on: March 03, 2010, 07:34:44 AM »

      random, that sounds beautiful.  I am also attracted to spiritual practice for the same reason, an opportunity to let go of the conscious self and access a more primal type of awareness that doesn't engage in these self-criticisms and value judgments.  There are many things that help a person reach that state, I think - saunas, spiritual retreats, worship services, exercise.  I even tried that isolation tank thing once - where you're floating in water and the light is turned off, and you just exist in a dark, weightless space where you're supposed to have access to higher consciousness.  Eh, didn't really do it for me, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post).  I just daydreamed.  It was nice, but not lifechanging or anything.  I don't think it really matters whether it's with others or on your own - the experience you're having is uniquely your own, no matter how many people are sharing the same space, having their own experiences. 

      LionDreamer, it's interesting what you bring up about the potentially positive power of these experiences.  I like that quote about how it's through these holes that the wounded individual can let the light shine through.  I think it's true that learning that other people cannot provide you with the answers you seek, and that we ourselves cannot always achieve what we would like, no matter how hard we try, are truths, albeit harsh ones.  Perhaps they do help us connect to some sort of fundamental reality and let go of illusions. 
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      « Reply #41 on: March 03, 2010, 10:03:29 AM »

      We are avoiding some of your questions, aren't we?

      Yes, BMama but its OK because this is a process and a very difficult one at that.  I think it reaches to our core sense of self and that brings up lots of issues to process

      What these gatherings have done for me is silence the voice inside that harangues me all day long about all the ways in which I am wrong, damaged, stupid, etc. When I am in this circle and experiencing acceptance and warmth from others, I feel nurtured and human.

      I don't know if this is "psychologically correct" in the sense that ideally, self-love and nurture does need to come from within, but we are all human and we all need a sense of belonging with fellow beings. If our injuries come from being rejected and ostracized, it makes sense that having the opposite experience offers a counterbalance.

      Thanks for sharing this experience Random.  Yes I do believe too that spiritual experiences and being in a circle that connects us not only with other people but with the larger world outside of ourselves is a great healing balm.  Being out in nature is another way to make these connections.  (I think of the song - "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean" - LeAnn Womack "I Hope you Dance"

      I can't help to notice though that through your powerful insight you took a moment to judge yourself by questioning the psychological correctness with a statement about what "should" be.  But you did get your balance back by your next statement of counterbalance.

      I think it's true that learning that other people cannot provide you with the answers you seek, and that we ourselves cannot always achieve what we would like, no matter how hard we try, are truths, albeit harsh ones.  Perhaps they do help us connect to some sort of fundamental reality and let go of illusions. 

      I agree salome, but I would also say that we may not be able to reach the specific answers we seek, but in the process of the quest we may find answers to other questions we never knew we had even asked.   That is the gift if we can keep our hearts and minds open. That is one of the lessons of the mythic quest.  Deena Metzger wrote:  "We are each the hero of our own journey."
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      « Reply #42 on: March 05, 2010, 03:37:33 PM »

      Okay, here's my take on how I handle things when they seem to get out of hand and I have to allow myself to take a breather and forgive myself:

      Every person is the same.  For every action there is a thought and a feeling behind it. So what is the order of those?  Thought, feeling action.

      You always have some sort of thought, then that makes you feel a certain way, and then you have your action based on that feeling.

      And we can get into our own little 'loops'.  I have actually taken the time to draw out a 'pie'.  This pie has 30 'slices'.  And it's broken down into 10 slices for each item - thought, feeling, action.

      And of course I have many "loops" that I find myself in regularly. 

      I will share one with you:

      Event - alarm goes off in the morning. (yes, it starts first thing in the morning)

      T - OMG I'm just so tired. I can't do this today.

      F - overwhelmed, need for a little more sleep.

      A - hit snooze, roll over, go back to sleep.

      Event - Alarm goes off again

      T - OMG has it been 10 mins already? Seriously? Maybe I should call in sick.

      F - need for more sleep again. Exhausted. overwhelmed.

      A - hit snooze, roll over, go back to sleep

      Event - Alarm goes off for the third time.

      T - OH NO! Now I'm going to be late. CRAP! Why do I do this to myself!

      F - Like I should have just sucked it up and got out of bed and feeling like a loser and whiner.

      A - Race out of bed and jump in the shower

      T - You're such an idiot. Why do you have to do this to yourself all morning?

      F - like I need to just figure out my whole life and get myself straight.

      A - Get out of shower and run around looking for a clean uniform.

      T - why didn't you lay out your uniform last night?  You would have saved time this morning and then you wouldnt' have been running around this morning at the last minute!

      F - Like I can't do anything right and I need to get organized

      A - Wake up DH while trying to rummage through my clean clothes looking for a uniform in the dark.

      T - Great. Now he's going to be mad at me. He has no idea what it's like for me sometimes.

      F - guilty

      A - Say sorry and tell him to go to back to sleep.

      Event - DH asks what is going on.

      T - Aw man. Now he's mad. Look what you've done.

      F - guilty

      A - tell him I'm looking for my uniform and ask him if he remembers seeing it.

      Event - DH says no and says I should have laid it out last night.

      T - Gee thanks. Like I couldn't have figured that one out! Why does he have to be such a jerk sometimes.

      F - crummy, guilty, frustrated, hurt

      A - Tell DH - thanks for your help. Here I am trying to be quiet. I'm sorry I woke you but don't have be such a jerk about it. I'm late okay. It's not my fault I can't find my uniform!

      T - It's totally your fault. Why did you just throw the blame like that? If you weren't so disorganized, then this wouldnt' be happening.

      F - guilty, sad, frustrated, angry.

      A - find the uniform and leave the room and slam the door.

      Event - get dressed, check time - need to leave house in 10 mins to be on time.

      T - OMG time is running out! I still have to do my make-up and my hair.  And great. I haven't made my lunch. This sucks.

      F - frustrated, angry

      A - throw make-up on and throw hair in a bun. Race downstairs. Check time. Realize I needed to leave 5 mins ago.

      T - DAMMIT! you're going to be late now! This is all your fault. You can't seem to do anything right!

      F - sad

      A - race out the door for work.

      *******************

      That was as soon as 2 months ago.  Now I can catch myself fairly early on (like after I race out of bed) and then I can change my thinking habits.  I can tell myself now that I'm right. I do need more sleep. But I didn't get it because I was doing things for the kids late the night before and it's okay because I made them happy and it's somethng that their mom wouldn't have done. 

      When I start thinking about blaming DH for somethings I remind myself first that it's not his fault and that I need to cut him and me some slack. We are doing the best we can.  And we are doing great.

      Now, I am hoping to get to the point where I can see this problem coming before it hits and then I can avoid it altogether.

      So ya - that's my story... .If we take the time to really analyze our own thought processes, recognize our feelings and curb our actions, then it sets the stage for a whole new set of positive thoughts and feelings.  xoxox
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      « Reply #43 on: March 06, 2010, 02:45:20 PM »

      When I think of self-forgiveness, it reminds me of Step 7 of the Survivors' Guide. I'll quote from it here:

      Excerpt
      I can sense my inner child whose efforts to survive now can be appreciated.


      REMEMBERING [Step 7]: This step involves turning inward, away from the violence and pain of your abuse, to reach inside to your inner child and begin learning how to nurture and develop this vulnerable part of yourself. This is both a grieving and healing step, because what you give now to this child will be restorative and fulfilling and will form the foundation upon which you can build other changes as you work the later steps. This is also a step that will help you recognize and acknowledge your childhood efforts to survive the abuse.

      By now, you know pretty much what happened to you, who did what and how you felt about it. It is now time to continue the work you began in Step Five by forgiving yourself for any of the millions of reasons that you may have used to blame yourself for the abuse. Working this step means further identifying and challenging these inaccurate and outdated notions and modifying your perceptions, based on your new understanding of your childhood experience. Along the way you need to appreciate and validate yourself for having survived the abuse. As you accept what happened to you and who really was responsible, you will inevitably become more and more accepting of yourself and the child within you.

      As you develop self-acceptance, you may notice that your relationships begin to improve. Accepting yourself may make it easier for others to accept you. If you haven't yet had this experience, you will be pleasantly surprised. Allow yourself to share these new feelings about yourself with people you care for and trust. Look for acceptance and understanding, and if you don't get it, ask for it. Let this vulnerable part of you explore being dependent and intimate with someone and see if you can feel trust starting to build. If you feel afraid, try to figure out why and share your thoughts with this person.



      I don't have too much trouble forgiving myself for things I did as a small child, but when I look back to my early adolescence, I have struggled with shame and self-blame. I was such a mess. I acted out in ways that are completely in line with what you would expect given the history of trauma and dysfunction in my family (drinking, mild drug abuse, promiscuity). I was a sitting duck for anyone who wanted to exploit me, as I had learned what Patrick Carnes in The Betrayal Bond calls "insane loyalties," and I gave up my own interests and needs (even for self-protection) in favor of others. When I was 13 I became sexually involved with a young adult man and continued a relationship with him for several years. Intellectually, I have long been able to see that:

      1. My acting out was completely par for the course given my history and what I faced at home.

      2. I had no guidance, and was taking care of my mentally ill mother while working and going to school.

      3. I faced extra pressures as my father, who was a mild-moderate sociopath (AsPD/NPD) was at war with my mother, and I was constantly pulled between them. My sister was also acting out and drawing the family attention.

      4. As a younger child, I had been previously sexually abused by one of my father's girlfriend's sons, which tends to lead to this sort of result.

      5. An adult man took advantage of me and that he was responsible, morally and legally, for that inappropriate sexual relationship.

      Yet despite this intellectual understanding, well into my adult life I continued to avoid thoughts of this time, blocking them out (trauma avoidance) and at the same time would be visited with intense feelings of shame about this period. At that time, I completely embraced the relationship with the older man, thinking I was "in love" and all the other nutty things we think about relationships that are dangerous for us.

      Self-forgiveness has come slowly. Part of it has come through seeing the story of my life as... .a story. There once was a girl who was expected to meet everyone's needs but her own... . I've done EMDR for trauma recovery and it has helped to take the edge off of the shame feelings and to break through the avoidance. I can think of that time now with a great deal of compassion for that poor, lost girl.

      I have also come to "appreciate my efforts to survive" and give myself credit for what I *did* do to help myself. I kept at my studies, did very well at school, and eventually earned myself scholarships that got me out of that situation. After the relationship with the older man ended, I realized I was not in any position to date, and I simply stopped for a couple of years. That was a smart move, as it gave me some time to recover and mature while avoiding further exploitation.

      So there's one story of self-forgiveness... .

      B&W
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      « Reply #44 on: March 06, 2010, 08:38:23 PM »

       Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)   xoxox
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      « Reply #45 on: March 07, 2010, 06:58:33 AM »

      Wow, blackandwhite, it all sounds so sane and so compassionate. I wish so much I could get to that place and I am working on it, but it's going to be a long haul. I was at a birthday last night, and all the people there were Russian, like me, and my age, and most of them married happily, well-off, well-established professionally, some had kids and I had such a tough time not beating myself up for being alone, broke, without a permanent job and living on a student budget while I scramble to manage my debts.

      I thought of this topic and your post, as I tried to tell myself that I am coming out of decades of abuse, that I did well just to survive and LEAVE, that if these people grew up with what I grew up with, god knows what their lives would look like right now, that I have worked very hard to overcome significant handicaps... .It worked a bit. I wasn't as hard on myself as I would have been without having done the work on this board.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      But it still stung... .
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      « Reply #46 on: March 07, 2010, 08:25:09 AM »

      I tried to tell myself that I am coming out of decades of abuse, that I did well just to survive and LEAVE, that if these people grew up with what I grew up with, god knows what their lives would look like right now, that I have worked very hard to overcome significant handicaps... .It worked a bit. I wasn't as hard on myself as I would have been without having done the work on this board.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      Good! Then let's give you credit for that very healing thought pattern! Fist bump: 

      If you had for whatever reason ended up in a close conversation with another guest there, and she told you her life story and it was similar to your own (meaning in some way she also faced considerable abuse and had to run really, really far just to get to the starting line), how would you regard her? With contempt? With compassion? Something else?

      Excerpt
      But it still stung... .

       This is maybe where radical acceptance comes in. That's your feeling, and it's okay to have it. You're a beautiful work in progress... . 

      B&W
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      « Reply #47 on: March 07, 2010, 08:53:06 AM »

      Excerpt
      how would you regard her? With contempt? With compassion? Something else?

      With compassion, definitely! And I would also be outraged on her behalf, angry at the injustice and wrongness of it. It's very easy for me to see clearly when it's someone else - like, when I think about the ghetto kids I saw in LA, and how much they have to face, not just individual abuse within families, but institutionalized racism, centuries of having their whole *people* abused, robbed, exploited, all of it on young shoulders just by accident of birth... .My heart went out to them and I was so, so angry at what they have to face, at how much they have to run just to get to the starting line, as you said.

      Now I am learning to recognize my own situation for what it is, and that even if some of my problems are the result of my own decisions, I had so much stacked against me. It's a real gift just to notice that my life didn't take shape in a vacuum, that in some ways it's not a failure but an achievement.

      I'm really grateful for this new insight. Even if it is very new and will take conscious work to absorb and not go to that habitual place of thinking badly of myself for not doing better.
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      « Reply #48 on: March 07, 2010, 09:05:59 AM »

      Now I am learning to recognize my own situation for what it is, and that even if some of my problems are the result of my own decisions, I had so much stacked against me. It's a real gift just to notice that my life didn't take shape in a vacuum, that in some ways it's not a failure but an achievement.

      This is exactly why I have the signature that I have on all of my posts:

      Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

      xoxox
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      « Reply #49 on: March 16, 2010, 09:04:30 PM »

      Ah...   perfect LD...   I forgot where your post was.  I just received a notification and brought me back here.  So timely...   need to read the posts in more depth.
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      « Reply #50 on: March 16, 2010, 09:27:31 PM »

      This is such a great workshop. I struggle with guilt and self-criticism so much. I'll have to go mull it over a bit. It seems that so much of the pain we struggle with feeds into itself, so that it's all one self-administering network: guilt -> worthlessness -> fear of punishment -> feeling undeserving -> guilt over being such an undeserving person -> worthlessness -> fear -> helplessness -> guilt, all of those things strengthening each other.

      Just naming what's happening helps already.

      So true!
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      « Reply #51 on: March 16, 2010, 09:29:25 PM »

      What's been helping me most recently is two things:

      1. Simply noticing when feelings and thoughts that are very harsh and negative come up. Just to notice is a huge part of the battle because these things are so internalized and habitual, they are now unconscious.

      2. Trying to think and act the opposite as much as possible. Like, if I am doing something hard, I mentally pat myself on the back. Praise myself when I do something well. Think things like, "you had a tough and busy day. Now do something to help yourself relax and rest up."

      The more kind thoughts you have towards yourself, the less room and processor power goes to the negative ones.

      I find if I try to argue with the negative ones or "dissuade" them, it's about as effective as dissuading Momster from the position that I am a bad person: not at all, the thoughts just come on stronger. I end up spending days arguing with myself in circles, and all it does is give me a headache.

      I like this very much
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      « Reply #52 on: March 16, 2010, 09:35:47 PM »

      Excerpt
      Finally, one strategy I learned from my CBT counsellor is, OK. Admit you made a mistake. What did you learn and what will you do differently in the future? When I started to think this way, I realized it gave me power back. I can't change my past mistakes. But I CAN change what I do from now on!

      hmmm...   I could do that.  Trying to explain to myself why I did something dumb is a hard one.  It only helps for such a short time. 
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      « Reply #53 on: March 16, 2010, 09:38:19 PM »

      Forgive myself?  What's that?  Okay... .in all honesty, this is my absolute worst problem in my life.  I haven't found a way to forgive myself yet for something I did when I was 7. 

      I feel like the only kid in class who forgot to do their homework... .

      I'm going to be paying a lot of attention to this thread.  I'd love to see how other people have found ways to forgive themselves. 

      I am so very, very sorry that you have carried that pain for so long.  I hope you can let it go. 
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      « Reply #54 on: March 16, 2010, 09:40:40 PM »

      Excerpt
      how would you regard her? With contempt? With compassion? Something else?

      With compassion, definitely! And I would also be outraged on her behalf, angry at the injustice and wrongness of it. It's very easy for me to see clearly when it's someone else - like, when I think about the ghetto kids I saw in LA, and how much they have to face, not just individual abuse within families, but institutionalized racism, centuries of having their whole *people* abused, robbed, exploited, all of it on young shoulders just by accident of birth... .My heart went out to them and I was so, so angry at what they have to face, at how much they have to run just to get to the starting line, as you said.

      Now I am learning to recognize my own situation for what it is, and that even if some of my problems are the result of my own decisions, I had so much stacked against me. It's a real gift just to notice that my life didn't take shape in a vacuum, that in some ways it's not a failure but an achievement.

      I'm really grateful for this new insight. Even if it is very new and will take conscious work to absorb and not go to that habitual place of thinking badly of myself for not doing better.

      this is kinda funny 'cause it was just that...   speaking out on behalf of a disabled woman that was the stupid thing for me.  I can get so worked up when I see someone being victimized.  It was okay for me to try to help her.  The way I did it was wrong.  ; /

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      « Reply #55 on: April 20, 2010, 10:15:34 AM »

      It's ironic we can have so much compassion for others and so little for ourselves. If someone treated a friend of mine like I treat myself, I'd call that person abusive... .You should hear some of the things I say to myself. So why is it ok to do it to ourselves? It's not, of course, but it's such a deep, ingrained pattern of thinking. To overcome it, we have to re-engineer the way we think, gently challenging all our twisted thinking while paradoxically allowing ourselves to still feel what we are feeling. Does that make sense? Hold the feeling like a precious child, comfort it, but realize it's too little to understand or to be in charge.

      Being able to observe my feelings with a little bit of detachment has helped me recently. I have to watch and not dissociate, because that's taking it too far, but a little bit of distance is healthy, because then that wave of shame doesn't drown me, and I can tread water. Soon, I'll be able to swim, then jump on a board and surf the wave! Smiling (click to insert in post) dunno what I mean really, except gaining mastery over the emotions that used to be like a tsunami... .
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      « Reply #56 on: April 20, 2010, 10:28:46 AM »

      Wow.

      Interesting you posted these comments Ocean.  And this thread was a good one.  I'm glad it's revitalized a little.

      I was just thinking about this recently after my last couple of therapy sessions.  On top of the  PD traits's of BPD, it's possible I may have adult ADHD to cope with.  We're discussing how I will  treat it, etc.  Also, that crosses over with self esteem issues... .and being sort of BPD'ish "all or nothing" with things. 

      For example, I'm almost constantly on a "diet."  I know, you're not supposed to call it that, but, okay, I'm in active weight loss.  How's that?   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) Anyway, I count calories and put in my exercise on this great website I use track my habits.  I told my T that when I have a bad day with that, I tend to give up for the rest of the week.  In my ADHDness, I can't seem to finish something if I'm not doing it perfectly, or if it's too hard.

      But, I'll be the first person to tell someone, "That was today.  Get back on the wagon tomorrow."  That's just good advice for anything... .I'll even tell friends who are trying to quit smoking and they give up and have a cigarette... .not to give up completely.  Old habits die hard.

      I just realized that it really, really pi$$es me off that I can't look in a mirror and say that to myself... .and LISTEN like I hope that others will.  What the heck is wrong with that picture?  I guess it's that old, "Putting other's needs before your own" mentality that we grew up with. 

      I even have a hard time telling someone that they did something wrong.  I'm afraid they won't like me... .I'll take responsibility for someone else's stupid mistake or smooth things over just so they won't feel bad.  I don't really feel bad because I KNOW I didn't screw up, but I don't want them to either.

      Yesterday, I dropped my son off at preschool.  I didn't have his permission slip for a trip tomorrow filled out or the money.  His teacher said, ":)id you get a form?"  I automatically started assuming I did and I just forgot it or didn't see it in his papers on Friday.  She said, "I have one here with his name on it, but it was still laying here so I crossed his name out assuming maybe there were two and he got his... .I'm sorry."  I didn't give her a second... .I just automatically went to me messing it up.  I even was like over apologetic and making sure that she knew I wasn't mad at her or anything.  Man that is so annoying.
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      « Reply #57 on: April 20, 2010, 11:03:23 AM »

      I have gone back to a mindfullness tool.  Becuase so many of us have have buried our emotions and the focus of BPD being... they have hidden their emotions from such an early ages.

      emotions = feeling.

      The jest of it is not to run away from you feelings.  Identify what you are feeling and the emotion behind it and allow yourself to feel... not replace it just feel.  We grow up being told you should feel this or that, but to move on you have need to experience what you are feeling to move past it.

      For example... you were constantly yelled at through h cycle.  How does that make you feel... .allow you self to feel your feelings... how does it feel "scared" ... why are you scared... ."might pick up the wrong item", than allow your self to feel being scared... .what are your feeling "tense"... how does your body feel... allow your self to feel it...  When you do this exercise again... notice how the feeling is different...

      The simplest one of these... .(less intense) is boredom... a lot of people create chaos because they are not use to peace and quiet.

      Notice if you do something out of boredom... but instead of going to the fridge, turning on the TV... .having to do something... sit with boredom... how does it feel... is it boredom... restlessness because it is quite... .are you doing something because you want to or you doing something because you are bored.

      If you sit with your emotions and feelings you will find that they hold less power over you.  The training is that emotions are fleeting... .if you sit with them you will notice that you will not run away from your feelings and emotions because you realize that they will leave on their own.  If you sit with fear... .especially if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when you were a child... you will be able to recognize it when it is useful to identify true threats.

      Do you need forgiveness.  If you done something you regret... .feel it... .how does it feel... identify why you truly feel regret... what could you do different... by allowing yourself to feel regret... you are no longer running away from it... .you can change it... .you understand you did something unhealthy and have learned from it... .it now becomes wise remorse.

      When you start a something simple ask why you are doing it...  needs to? makes me feel better?  something I want to do? fear of what someone might think? Identify the feeling and emotion behind what drives you... .You might be surprised  at something that you really want to do and and the positive emotions and feelings are suddenly place with a negative one will follow and that is the reason we don't follow through with our dreams.

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      « Reply #58 on: April 20, 2010, 12:02:42 PM »

      The reason I stumbled upon this old-ish thread is from one of blackandwhite's posting on Toxic Shame thread. Both are relevant and I might go back and post some of this on that, if they intersect... .

      dsnutt - love your post! The problem is when the feeling is waaay to intense to be able to deal with. Over the past 5 years of growth I've been able to progressively deal with difficult emotions and can do okay with most of them except for perhaps the fundamental BPD one of rage. There are such attendant feelings of shame when I get angry . . . like I'm not "allowed" to be angry and if I express it, that means I'm a bad person; one can't forgive oneself for fundamental "badness". Do I really believe I'm bad? Not intellectually, but it FEELS true.

      I'm afraid of expressing my anger because 1) it's physically painful 2) I'm afraid it will escalate or I'll lose control 3) I might be wrong 4) I might be acting unfairly 5) I'm afraid I will like it too much (the feeling of being powerful and in control). Any suggestions besides bringing it up with my T today?
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      « Reply #59 on: April 20, 2010, 12:14:05 PM »

      Start with something that feels less intense... .feel those first.

      When I had extreme anger... I was real scared of the way I felt... And I got stuck awhile on this, because I too grew up... Dad can show anger we couldn't.  And actually I found out with me it was not the anger I was scared of... .it was fear... fear of losing control.

      One day when I was alone... I had saw this before on a program... and thought I would try it.  Take a pillow and hit it allow all yourself to lose it on the pillow.  I couldn't... started laughing... I felt ridiculous looking at the pillow... tried to hit it... felt even more foolish... well feeling foolish replaced my fear of losing control at the time.

      When I was able to let go of the fear of losing... I allowed myself to be angry... and I have found that a punching bag at the gym... is a great release. 

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      « Reply #60 on: April 20, 2010, 12:30:02 PM »

      You do realize you are working through it... .you have identified your feelings.  

      Feeling wrong is a different emotion than anger.  Anger is a secondary emotion in response to the first emotion... .What are your feelings if you do something wrong... the same with acting unfairly.

      Start with these... .if you are ashamed if you treat someone unfairly... and than feel anger directed at yourself... are you angry because you feel shame.  Most people do not like feel ashamed of something the do... so we replace the emotion with another.  What is the worst thing that can happen if we allow ourselves to feel shame... it just doesn't feel good.  Ok so it does feel good... you know it is ok not to feel good.

      Shame just sits there... .Anger is tricky because it releases something... .it provides a high... good/bad.
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      « Reply #61 on: April 20, 2010, 08:52:44 PM »

      Thank you oceanheart, dsnutt45 and BMama for your meaningful contributions:

      It's ironic we can have so much compassion for others and so little for ourselves. If someone treated a friend of mine like I treat myself, I'd call that person abusive... .

      Being able to observe my feelings with a little bit of detachment has helped me recently. I have to watch and not dissociate, because that's taking it too far, but a little bit of distance is healthy, because then that wave of shame doesn't drown me, and I can tread water. Soon, I'll be able to swim, then jump on a board and surf the wave! Smiling (click to insert in post) dunno what I mean really, except gaining mastery over the emotions that used to be like a tsunami... .

      I love your imagery oceanheart.  We engage in "person abuse" with ourselves, that is a classic!  Smiling (click to insert in post)   And thank you for sharing your concept of surfacing the waves of our emotions with some detachment (but not too much) and building up to bigger and bigger waves.  Self-forgiveness is a process and your metaphor does a great job of expressing that.

      I'm afraid of expressing my anger because 1) it's physically painful 2) I'm afraid it will escalate or I'll lose control 3) I might be wrong 4) I might be acting unfairly 5) I'm afraid I will like it too much (the feeling of being powerful and in control). Any suggestions besides bringing it up with my T today?

      I think you've hit on a very common issue, not just for children of pwBPD but for most people.  Anger is indeed frightening.  It is a strong emotion and it has often been used against us to belittle and control us.  But the problem is that anger is a natural human emotion and can be very appropriate at times.   In fact, if we squelch our very appropriate anger, we end up squelching our other emotions too - even the good ones like love and appreciation. 

      Old habits die hard.

        I guess it's that old, "Putting other's needs before your own" mentality that we grew up with. 

      It sounds like you have been doing some really deep work BMama.   You are right old habits do die hard, that's why we need to celebrate your little victories.   Good point also about this being the mentality that we grew up with.  So these aren't just old habits, they are also childhood habits.  Double hard to break.

      Yesterday, I dropped my son off at preschool.  I didn't have his permission slip for a trip tomorrow filled out or the money.  His teacher said, ":)id you get a form?"  I automatically started assuming I did and I just forgot it or didn't see it in his papers on Friday.  She said, "I have one here with his name on it, but it was still laying here so I crossed his name out assuming maybe there were two and he got his... .I'm sorry."  I didn't give her a second... .I just automatically went to me messing it up.  I even was like over apologetic and making sure that she knew I wasn't mad at her or anything.  Man that is so annoying.

      Wow!  You should write up this story and post it in an obvious spot - the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror - along with the words - "See it's not always my fault! - Remember, remember, remember"

      I have gone back to a mindfullness tool.  Becuase so many of us have have buried our emotions and the focus of BPD being... they have hidden their emotions from such an early ages.

      emotions = feeling.

      The jest of it is not to run away from you feelings.  Identify what you are feeling and the emotion behind it and allow yourself to feel... not replace it just feel.  We grow up being told you should feel this or that, but to move on you have need to experience what you are feeling to move past it.

      If you sit with your emotions and feelings you will find that they hold less power over you.  The training is that emotions are fleeting... .if you sit with them you will notice that you will not run away from your feelings and emotions because you realize that they will leave on their own.  If you sit with fear... .especially if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when you were a child... you will be able to recognize it when it is useful to identify true threats.

      Do you need forgiveness.  If you done something you regret... .feel it... .how does it feel... identify why you truly feel regret... what could you do different... by allowing yourself to feel regret... you are no longer running away from it... .you can change it... .you understand you did something unhealthy and have learned from it... .it now becomes wise remorse.

      When you start a something simple ask why you are doing it...   needs to? makes me feel better?  something I want to do? fear of what someone might think? Identify the feeling and emotion behind what drives you... .You might be surprised  at something that you really want to do and and the positive emotions and feelings are suddenly place with a negative one will follow and that is the reason we don't follow through with our dreams.

      Really beautiful and strong words about mindfulness dsnutt45.  Great lessons!  Thanks.

      When I had extreme anger... I was real scared of the way I felt... And I got stuck awhile on this, because I too grew up... Dad can show anger we couldn't.  And actually I found out with me it was not the anger I was scared of... .it was fear... fear of losing control.

      More excellent words about this. 

      LD
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      « Reply #62 on: April 21, 2010, 12:37:42 AM »

      Excerpt
      Really beautiful and strong words about mindfulness dsnutt45.  Great lessons!  Thanks.

      Ever hear of the story about a hole that you keep falling in... .until eventually you learn to walk around it.

      I fell in... Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  ... so I am currently stepping on top of my mindfulness books so I can climb out of the hole...

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      « Reply #63 on: April 21, 2010, 08:40:02 AM »

      Oh, that's an excellent metaphor.  I need a picture of a hole to put on my fridge, LD.

      Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #64 on: April 21, 2010, 08:48:48 AM »

      You guys crack me up.   I now have a picture in my mind of dsnutt45 using her mindfulness books to make a ladder she is tottering on to climb out of the hole.   Just goes to show you there is always more that one way to use our tools - you can read the books or you can use them as a step-stool.   

      BMama, don't forget to put a ladder in your hole too.  Being cool (click to insert in post)

      LD   
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      « Reply #65 on: April 21, 2010, 08:53:15 AM »

      Oh, yeah, that'd be me... .find a picture of a hole with no way to get out!

      Smiling (click to insert in post) Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #66 on: April 21, 2010, 11:04:05 AM »

       Smiling (click to insert in post) Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

      Now I have an image... .and I have enough eastern philosophy books to actually do it.  

      Can see it now... honey why is there a picture of a hole on the fridge. Being cool (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #67 on: October 14, 2010, 08:27:09 AM »

      This is tough.

      I would think for years things like

      "If I was smarter, my father would have not been so violent."

      "If I was more talented, my parents would have loved me more, my father would have been a better parent."

      "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I could be a better son, make my father a better person, prevent him from dying in bitterness and anger, make my mother more loving and attentive."

      "If I had super powers, I would be more heroic. People would love me more. I would finally be special."

      Now, after my breakup, I found myself thinking things like... .

      "If I was a better boyfriend, she would not have cheated on me."

      "If I was thinner and in better shape, she would have loved me more and not lied so much."

      "If I made more money and was rich, she would not have gone off with her rich, married boss after our break up and possibly during the r/s."

      "If I was more talented, shot more pictures that she wanted, she would not have left."

      "If I was a better person, she could have never have left me."

      What I have to realize is... .

      "I am a good looking, great guy. I am talented and smart. I am a great father. I was a great bf to her. Attentive person. Great, open minded, adventurous lover. I was a great son. I got good grades. I make enough money and that should not be important to someone. If it is, they are not worth my time. My parents should have loved me unconditionally like I do with my daughter. My father had his own issues and had no reason to act the way he did in life. My mother as well. My exgf has BPD and makes self destructive choices in life. She is a disturbed person and even admits that much. She has problems. They are not my fault. She has low self esteem and worth. She lacks identity. She is untrustworthy. She has patterns of lying and cheating throughout her life. She is not happy inside. I tried my best but I cannot fix her. No one can. She can only change herself. She does not want to. And that is not my fault. I can only make changes within me."

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      « Reply #68 on: January 03, 2017, 09:57:34 AM »

      I was reading this as a way to self reflect and begin healing. I just admitted to my husband last night that I was an abused child. I have never acknowledged it. I think by accepting my childhood as "just the way it was" has kept me feeling guilty and accepting responsibility for all family relationships. Im ready to be free of guilt, shame and fear of putting myself first in anything.
      One way I see I haven't forgiven myself is in the fact  I take on the responsibility of everyone's happiness and well being as if it depends on me. I constantly struggle with what people think. I basically never put my own needs or feelings in the equation when dealing with people. If I do I instantly feel selfish or at fault. Any advice for this?
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