self-worth

Finding forgiveness.

Every Monday, I am reminded to forgive myself. 

 

Each week, as I sit on the bathroom toilet or the edge of the tub, poised with a 1-inch needle hovering above my thigh, I decide once more. I sit there for a while, sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes five minutes, as I summon the courage to slide the needle through my skin and into my muscle. It's scary. After three years of doing this every week to supplement the hormones in my body, I am surprised each time how difficult it is. I know it won’t really hurt if I do it correctly but still, I hesitate. And I hesitate with forgiving myself for having to do it at all.

Each week I endure this reconciliation process with myself, because no one got me here but me. I chose to transition. I chose to make this part of my life experience. I took the steps to alter my whole life and my very identity, irrevocably, forever.

And as I sit there, I battle myself a little. Because the injection is only one of many difficult or unpleasant aspects of my transition, and I know I could have chosen differently and not had to deal with any of it. And then I smile, take some deep breaths, complete the process and put my Band-Aid on because I know I have another decision to make. I can make this more difficult or I can make it easier on myself. I can suffer or I can find forgiveness.

Our lives and our identities are created by decisions. On the turn of a dime, we can go from left to right, A to B, here to there. My transition came about from making hundreds of decisions over the past three decades, from the day I chose to overcome my eating disorder to my first days as a vegetarian and then years later when I had a hamburger again. My decisions about physical self-expression using the skin I’m in included the moments I got my nose pierced and my first tattoo. My Buddhist identity came from a decision to abandon the Catholicism of my childhood and another decision to spend years under the umbrella religion of Unitarian Universalism. Many of these decisions included breaking conventional norms or societal rules. These decisions went against what I had been taught or how I had been raised.  Sometimes I had to break rules I had previously set for myself. The way I made these decisions was to choose powerfully and forgive myself for wanting something different.

We can live our whole lives avoiding the criticism or backlash from other people based on how they live their own lives. We can limit or restrict or hide what we want or need from fear of what our peers will do or say. Look what happened when Caitlyn Jenner, a beloved American icon, made a choice that challenged what people considered normal or appropriate. They freaked out and projected all of their needs and wants and opinions and comfort zones onto her. 

 

Be yourself. No, not like that.
— society

Challenges prompt the process of finding forgiveness. If it was easy, anyone could do it. It happens when someone judges us, or we fear they might. It happens when we made a mistake or did something we think is unforgivable in the eyes of others. It happens when we break norms, defy rules or live outside the lines in some way, either intentionally or just because it is who we are.

We can spend our whole lives searching for forgiveness or approval from others to live the lives we want or to let us off the hook for something we’ve done or who we are. In the months before my transition, I heard myself saying out loud, “I’ll be punished, I’ll be in trouble” and it was weird to hear myself say that because I had lived independent of my parents and their opinions for so many years. At least I thought I had. I made the decision anyway, and my premonition came true. But I can spend the rest of the time I have here regretting who I am and what I’ve chosen or I can make a different decision. I can seek forgiveness for who I am outside myself and wait forever or I can find it within my own heart. We get to choose how hard we make it, how many hoops we force ourselves through, to find self-acceptance. We get to decide if we live in compassion or in perpetual shame. It’s a process, made of many decisions.

Just like anything precious, forgiveness may be tough to find at first but once you have it, it’s yours, baby.

Ask For What You Need

I've experienced many people who live their lives sort of half-assed. They spend alot of time walking around making life really comfortable for other people and neglecting some basic needs (or some amazing extras like unexpected days off, free products, extra hugs, etc.) Want to know one of those people? You're reading about one.

Yep! I am continously seeing the ways I sell my own self short. In the past few weeks, I have done something to change it.

What prompted the change?

Here's what I noticed was happening:

  • I was tired a lot

  • I felt frustrated and resentful that other people seemed to live so care-free, how do they DARE ask for what they want and need? "Harumph! Check out so-and-so asking for ________. Where does he/she/ze get the nerve?"

  • My skin wasn't clearing up

  • I felt like my eyes were going to bug out of my head at all times (this is most likely an adrenal issue)

  • I was Dillan the Grouch way too often.

How can I expect my clients to Savor Their Existence(s) when I'm not walking my own darn talk?

The truth is, when you're out on the edge of doing something really scary and awesome (like I've been doing these past few years) you will have moments of greatness and moments of not-such-greatness. Tapping into your own self-worth and actually doing things that magnify it to yourself and others takes a whole lot of courage and determination. Consistently challenging yourself to be the best version of You takes time, it takes introspection and it takes patience.

Asking For What I Need is one of my best lessons from the past few years. I realized I wasn't doing anyone, least of all me, any favors by making life more comfortable for other people. It was only short-changing my own needs and that is not what we were put on this planet to accomplish. If I want to live a charmed life full of joy, abundance and peace--I need to start with small steps on a daily basis. It begins with asking for what I need each moment of each day. Every relationship, every interaction, every moment when I'm sitting with myself---I need to be aware of and articulate what it is I need in that moment.

Sometimes, people won't be able to deliver. This is when I practice something called detachment (practice makes perfect, right?). I can ask for what I need, and release the expectation that someone or something will provide for that need. But the ASKING is the point. Anything that happens after that is easier to accept because I did my part.

It's the asking that is self-empowerment.

It's the asking that is self-love.

It's the asking that says, "hey, I deserve to have a life that feels comfortable and manageable so I can go out there and do incredible work."

That work can look very different but the basic need is the same: we need to feel like we can do it.

Work can be:

  • a job

  • school

  • being a partner/lover/friend

  • parenting

What do you need right now to feel like you can do the work you are doing?

Now, go ask for it.