A Black Woman’s Journey to Self-Forgiveness

By Heather Macon

The journey to self-discovery is rewarding and ongoing. The amount of growth I’ve witnessed within myself to allow room for grace, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness has been remarkable.

A natural coping mechanism that I’ve allowed to guide me through these practices is becoming more appreciative of the simplistic beauty within my life. Allowing myself to experience joy and recognize growth along my journey that I often overlook is not as present as I can be. The constant need to be busy, productive, and be more to others than me at times has cost me my ability to set healthy boundaries and my ability to self-forgive. I’ve become deeply reflective on how I’ve viewed gratitude in my life concerning meaningful relationships, making decisions that I’m comfortable with, and the steps I’m taking toward my dedicated effort in self-forgiveness. The truth is, I’ve been grasping on tightly to things that I’ve yet to forgive myself for.

Journaling is an expressive way for my vulnerability to come to the surface; it has been for quite some time. In these moments, I’m honest with myself about my past experiences, reflections on poor decisions that I’ve made (relationships, jobs, situations, etc.). It has also contributed to this feeling that will visit me without notice of not feeling worthy of who I am in the present.

Each morning I wake up early enough to catch the sunrise as it peeks through my blinds; for that, I’m grateful. The sun rays are a clear way for me to see natural beauty bright and early in the morning. Nights prior, falling asleep to the moonlight, and waiting to be greeted by the sun each morning remind me of a new beginning. As I’m stumbling throughout this journey, this is how I envision self-forgiveness—a new beginning for myself.

I can be my biggest critic.

Over the years, I’ve gotten better at affirming myself and recognizing the power in speaking nothing but kind & gentle statements. Speaking kindness, abundance, and self-assured words aloud or through reading has aided in my journey to self-forgiveness and acceptance. From Mara Brock Akil’s Being Mary Jane, Mary Jane Paul taught me the practice of having my apartment decorated in post-it notes of affirming quotes and statements. Self-forgiveness is just as important as this message that is continuously shared about forgiving others in our lives. As I am becoming more self-aware about who I am and what I desire, I am challenged with the decision-making of my past. The thought of settling, playing it safe to make others feel comfortable, and simply walking into a version of myself requiring more.

A negative core belief stemming from my childhood has ultimately conditioned me to believe that moving on without acknowledging or processing feelings is natural. Making decisions to benefit others, lack of boundaries, and temporary satisfaction were common themes in my early twenties. Moments where situations have repeated themselves, I’ve found myself with a different outcome but little to no space for self-forgiveness. Therapy has had a tremendous impact on my ability to reflect on negative core beliefs centered on boundaries, forgiveness, and the celebration of growth within itself. Re-shaping my thinking and processing my emotions and daily decisions have truly allowed me to grow in the realm of self-forgiveness.

Shifting my thinking more toward how decisions are healthy for myself instead of automatically placing them in a “good” or “bad” category has helped with my conditioned thinking and overall decision making. I’ve been growing into a space that has allowed me to recognize and appreciate my feelings more deeply. If I have a day experiencing a feeling other than joy or happiness, I acknowledge that feeling. I allow that feeling to be present, and I create space for it to pass. That may mean journaling about how I feel, crying hard, or sitting in silence.

Allow yourself to express gratitude in unfamiliar ways, noticing the joy in simplicity. As you reflect on who you are in this moment, the journey you’ve taken to get where you are, remind yourself that you are worthy. These practices have been beneficial to my growth.

Self-forgiveness and self-compassion should be involved in your upcoming chapters to be written.

Heather Macon is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Heather is a creative who enjoys art in all forms. You can follow her on Twitter @HJanaii.

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