These are extracts from journals I’ve kept over the years, put into themes that I hope give you some sense of my journey and process.

This weekend I binged. I had a difficult time with [one of my teenagers] – not going to go into all the details – they’re really not that important. What’s important is what I made the whole thing mean: that I’m a useless mother; that I don’t know how to be empowering, that I’m putting the building blocks in place for a dysfunctional relationship with her when she’s an adult; that she’ll hate me and not want to spend any time with me when she’s grown up; that I’m too controlling; that I can’t change; that I’ll never transform myself; that I’m not loving enough and not lovable.

I know that I can’t verify any of this to be undeniably true. In fact, this is what I know to be true: I am a loving and lovable person; I am very useful as a mother – at the very least, I make sure there is nutritious food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a reasonably hygienic house to live in, and I drive! That sounds pretty useful to me, especially if you’re a teenager. I don’t know how the future will pan out. I don’t know what our relationship will be like in future. What I do know is I love my daughters with all my heart, and I want them to have their own lives; this age isn’t an easy one for most teenagers, and most parents of teenagers! I know that I’m doing the best I can, and I’m adjusting to the new reality; I know that change is entirely possible, and in fact that I have witnessed my own transformation. And I do know how to be empowering. I know that I do what’s required to bring myself back into my wholeheartedness.

So I ate chocolate. Is that so terrible? Even if I ate a lot of it! It doesn’t make me a bad person; it doesn’t mean the sky will fall down. It means I ate chocolate. End of story.

And I would have preferred to have allowed myself as much time and space as I needed, to feel my feelings; to tell myself what’s true about me, about her, about life, to forgive myself for not being perfect.

The thing is, I can’t fully heal or move on without forgiving myself first – you can’t beat yourself into fundamental and lasting change – it needs love! I was talking with [my friend] about that this morning – I told her I saw forgiving myself as a means to an end – in the sense that I know it will help me stop overeating. But I didn’t see forgiving myself as a way to show myself love and care, to remind myself that I’ve done nothing wrong; that I’m essentially a good, loving and lovable person; that I make mistakes just like anyone else, and that I have another opportunity moment to moment, to show up differently. And if I don’t, that’s ok too. Because essentially I am good and valuable and lovable and worthy, not because I’ve behaved in a certain way, not because I’ve been ‘good’ or done the right thing, but because I’m here. I was born. I have life. I don’t have to deserve my own forgiveness – it’s just that – given.

The etymology of the word ‘forgive’ is really interesting to me! One of the origins is ‘to give up’. Give up what? Give up what I think I know. Give up how I think I should be or how other people or things should be. Give up being right – or wrong, for that matter. It’s about surrender to what is.

And what is on the other side of this giving up, this surrender?

Peace, peace with the way things are; peace with how I am, what I have or haven’t done.

A free heart.

With love,
Vania

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