Forgiveness–The Gift that Keeps on Giving

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”–Robert Muller

Was my birthday yesterday (yes, I know, happy birthday to me) and this year, I gave myself something I’d never given me before–I forgave myself.
It seems a strange gift, to forgive oneself, but for me, it’s an important, no, more like a crucial step in my health regaining journey.
During the last 13 years, I sat up many nights, days, afternoons, mornings, mentally beating myself up for making such bad choices with food and health. I’d build on it, stack more and more guilt. Then I’d eat my frustration, promising this would be the last time, the last binge, the last whatever, only to wake the next morning feeling worse than I did before. My pants would fit tighter and I swore I’d go to the gym, run a marathon, do 1000 crunches everyday to get the weight off and then I’d promise myself with a chocolate sundae with extra whipped cream.
I simply wouldn’t follow through because I felt too defeated. The task seemed too much, too overwhelming. 
Maybe in some way, I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve to succeed. I’d allow that part of me, that sneaky self-sabotage part, to tell me I’d never beat this. It would never happen because I wasn’t strong enough, determined enough, brave enough to even begin a solid transformation of myself. That I’d throw away the only chance of health success and I’d never be able to turn back the clock or change my course.
Then I simply got pissed. Isn’t that part of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of dying model? Acceptance, anger, bargaining, denial, and depression? I think I went between anger, bargaining, denial and depression while I completely ignored the acceptance of my flaws so I could move on.
I did go through acceptance, but not the type she expected here. No, what I accepted was invites to dinner, drinks with friends, movie popcorn and candy, bottles of wine, appetizers, main courses and dessert. I accepted the bad stuff because it was so good and then pushed aside emotions (denial) to deal with the guilt later.
Now, when I realized my pattern, I changed what I accepted, which was the fact I’d screwed up. I took it that step farther and said “okay, you screwed up, now move on.” 
By doing so, I got a get out of (depression) jail and that led me to forgiveness. 
Why did it take me so long to forgive myself for these choices? Why, after 13 years of packing on 70 pounds did I make a change? Was it instantaneous? A sign from God? A moment where it all seemed clear? Did I have one of those Ebenezer Scrooge dreams where I saw myself in an oversized casket and people shaking their heads, saying something like, “she sure liked her chocolate fudge. Now, look where it got her. In one fat-ass casket.”
Honestly, I really don’t have any idea when I started to forgive me. I can’t recall if there was there some instant catalyst that made me wake up one day and say “okay, you’re forgiven, the slate has been wiped clean and you’re good to start over. So get moving.”
It wasn’t something I pondered over for weeks at a time, maybe a few days. Quite simply, something made me started believing I was worth being healthy.
For the first time, in a long time, I wanted to be healthy. I didn’t want to fight the scale or a size 6 jeans, I simply wanted to be strong, accomplished, a good role model for my children. But not only that, I wanted to keep up with my children, to be there for my husband, to walk a marathon when I’m 50 or 80 and to be alive in my life. I liked the idea of being healthy, active, alert, flexible, accomplished now and even for the next 50-60 years.
I didn’t want to waste away like my grandmother after she broke both her hips. I didn’t want to be in chronic pain like my great-grandmother. Her weight kept her minimally mobile for years. As much as I loved them both and still do, I didn’t want to be the old woman sitting in a chair all day, waiting for death. I want death to chase me, make him work for it.
To do all that and more, I finally realized that I can’t beat myself up over each calorie, each trip-up, each back step. My trip isn’t going to be perfect or smooth. There will be days I lose ground, but the point is not to throw in the towel, not to let that nasty, sneaky self-sabotage side tell me it’s not worth it, I’m not with it, because I screwed up, again.
If choose to let go of all the guilt, the frustration, the anger or whatever feeds me to make bad choices, and I forgive myself for simply being human, well, that’s already a huge weight off my mind and body.
It’s not an easy process and some days, I have to forgive myself more than once, simply as a reminder to keep me going. Other days, it is to help myself with the guilt of eating a second slice of that birthday cake. Glad my birthday is only once a year.

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