Forgiveness is a strange concept yet delightfully fulfilling. When done with true intent it makes two people happy: The one forgiving and the one receiving it.

The month of February has been a rollercoaster one, personally. Despite the joy of moving into a new place, the plague of illness kept me from achieving full joy. Towards the end, though, I managed to find gratitude even in the dark moments.

The last week, you’d think, has been better than most and in some ways, it has been. But I’m still not out of the woods where health is concerned. I have to be careful, not exert myself too much and take precautions to ensure that I stay healthy.

For someone who’s generally enjoyed decent health, this has been extremely annoying to say the least. What’s worse though, is the way I vented my frustration on everyone around me, especially my family.

My parenting blog has a ticker in the sidebar which tells my readers how I’ve been yell-free for 547 days. Whew, that comes as a surprise, even to me. And it’s true. I haven’t raised my voice at Gy for this period. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always been kind.

Late last night, after a week of renewed pain and more visits to the doctor, I was royally fed up of seeing white coats, the scan machine, nurses and lab reports. To add to this, I’ve been goading Gy to study for her upcoming exams and been completely stressed about the fact that she waves it away airily! A part of me just broke down uncontrollably in the characteristic Why me syndrome and I sat quietly on the bed, shedding tears in sheer despair. You could say it was one of the lowest points of my week/month.

To my mind, I was a complete failure as a woman, a parent, a spouse because

  • I hadn’t been able to cook/clean regularly for the past month and more.
  • I had no energy to do any of my walking exercises or my yoga which I’d gotten so used to.
  • I was unable to convince my child to focus more on her work.
  • I felt robbed of my ability to bounce back from an illness, mentally speaking.

It was so bad that I honestly blamed myself for every single thing that happened. Hearing me cry, my daughter came and sat by my side, engulfed me in a bear hug and said, ‘It’s all right, Amma. Things will be better soon.’

That’s when the turnaround happened. What’s that saying about, ‘When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up’? Well, that was the moment that did it for me.

I let go.

That’s when I discovered one of the secrets behind forgiveness. It begins with you.

I forgave myself for everything.

I stopped looking at the home as a project that needs to be kept spick and span. I saw it as a place to live, a roof over one’s head with people I love, by my side.

I stopped worrying about healthy, nutritious 3-course meals for the time being. Food, even out of a package, works fine for now.

I stopped wondering when I’d get back to my fitness routine and began to breathe, letting my body take its time to heal.

I stopped looking at my daughter’s unwillingness to study as a reflection on my parenting. When the time comes, she will study, this I know and trust. If she doesn’t, she will face the outcome and learn from it, on her own.

I stopped forcing myself to get better and surrendered to what I know is good for me: rest, remedial medication and a peaceful mind.

And this is how I know forgiveness works. It’s how generations before us have dealt with disappointment, betrayal, anger and despair. They start by letting go of the hurt and observing it dispassionately. They separate the action from the actor, the behaviour from the person. They know the primal truth on which forgiveness works:

It begins and ends with you.


Image courtesy: Shutterstock

19 thoughts on “The Art of Forgiveness

  1. Oh Shai! Big, tight, hugs to you. Like your daughter said, it will be all right. She’s so wise (wiser than her mom? (Ok, maybe I should shut up or you might break your no-yelling record :P))
    We all have this inner perfectionist and critic, who keeps telling us we have failed, in something or the other. It’s important to silence that voice sometimes. Whatever we’re doing, however we’re coping, it’s fine. It’s good enough.
    Hope you are better now, healthwise. I’m here if you wanna talk.

  2. A very introspective post. Something we all go through sometime or the other. Its great that saw the silver lining and managed to bounce back. Your daughter seems like a very sweet person 🙂

  3. It always begins and ends with oneself, Shailaja. When we accept that, life is much better. Good to know you’re recovering. Please take good care of you! Life WILL go on, regardless. We are not indispensable. Hugs!

  4. Recently at our yoga class the instructor organised a forgiveness workshop and try as I might I couldn’t find one single person I needed to forgive and so, obviously I gave the workshop a miss. And then a friend pointed out – how about forgiving yourself. That was such a valid point it surprised me into agreement.
    You know how stressed I am about the kids’ exams. I keep reading posts that tell moms to ‘snap out of it’ to ‘let them be’ and I do try but it just isn’t easy. I really don’t know how to do that. That line from your post needs to go up on the bulletin board of my mind:
    ‘I stopped looking at my daughter’s unwillingness to study as a reflection on my parenting.’
    Thank you.

  5. If only we could be kinder to ourselves like this more often! I’m so happy you forgave yourself and decided to let life and the world around you take its own course.
    Hope you feel better soon, Shy. Hugs!

  6. There’s so much wisdom in your words. We are often really hard on ourselves, much harder than we would be on our friends. When you’re unwell, you need to give your body what it needs to heal. I hope you can return to your walks and yoga soon, in the meantime, just take extra good care of you! 🙂

  7. That’s a real epiphany there…such wisdom in it. I am someone who finds it hard to forgive myself ….I don’t show self-compassion and maybe sometimes, it can affect my ability to be compassionate towards others. I must try and do what you did. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I hope you feel better soon. Take care xx

  8. Hugs, Shailaja. I hope you feel better soon.
    I was there where you are now from Jan to mid-Feb. It is tough. There is so much we have to do that we forget that it’s okay if every day all the ticks are not marked or the routine that we so much like to follow is ignored.
    Focus on your health first and everything will get back to just the way you like it. Health first, always. Hugs, lots and lots of hugs.

  9. This sort of reminds me of my 2016; so trust me when I say – I know how it feels.
    It does start with a bit of forgiveness, and also remembering that you are human after all.
    It is okay to take things a little slow.
    Good luck!

  10. Thought provoking post. And you spoke my heart, Shailaja. This is what I am doing for the past 25 days since I got my skin problem. I was affected much by “Why Me”, “Unperfectionist” & “NotDesrveToBeAGoodWifeAndMom” syndromes. Felt very releived on reading you. Thanks dear. Now I too will forgive myself, will let it go and will bounce back soon.

  11. I agree that it all begins with us. Everything will fall into place once you feel stronger. Hope you feel better soon, Shailaja. Like you said, it will be better from here on.

  12. It is hardest to forgive ourselves and I had myself gone through the guilt and not-good-enough period so many times. I can somehow relate to how you must be feeling. But glad that Gy helped you to finally let it go. Take care Shailaja… I hope you really get back to your healthy and ‘peachy creamy’ self 🙂

  13. I hope you are feeling better now. Forgiveness is a hard lesson to learn. But once learned and practised it sets you free. Very nicely written.

  14. Often, we are the harshest on ourselves censuring ourselves for every failure. You have had a really rough month and I can imagine the helplessness you felt especially since health is one area we have no control over. I know how sometimes our children can be cause of great angst. I suffer the same with the younger son. This time for the finals, I am no longer controlling or fretting over how he studies. So far it has been easier on both of us.

    I hope and pray that you bounce back really soon. Meanwhile, give your body rest and love. She had been through a lot. You are an accomplished person and I can imagine the frustration of not living up to your own lofty standards. Like you said, the answer is in being kind to ourselves. Take care. Hugs!

  15. I had a lump in my throat as I read how you sat on your bed weeping and how Gy came and comforted you. The few words she uttered made you look at things differently and helped you get over the blame game you had been playing with yourself…You know what that told me? How often, when things aren’t working out as per our expectations, we fail to notice tiny facts of life; facts that have the power to enlighten us but facts that we ignore completely. “Things will be better soon,” ” Everything will happen when it has to happen, why stress over it?”..these words, which hold a lot of sense within them, but which we don’t even think of! We really ought to be grateful that we have a few such people in our lives, who know exactly when to utter these words of wisdom and help us out of the abyss we have pushed ourselves into!
    I am so glad you are feeling better in every way, my dear! It will all be better, soon!

  16. I am totally understanding what you are saying since I was pretty much going through that phase of feeling useless. I needed some reminders from good friends to understand that is ok to slow down and not be able to be the multi task we all the time. Hugs dear. It’s good once in a while for us to realize that everything will run even if we aren’t on top of it 🙂

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