Self Forgiveness

I’m very forgiving of other people…almost to a fault.  As I’ve gotten older, I don’t let people walk all over me as much as I used to.  But, I still allow people to let me down and then forgive them.  Ultimately, I think forgiveness is the right thing to do.  But…

One thing I’m not good at is self forgiveness, which I was so cruelly reminded of a couple of weeks ago.

The story starts several months ago, when I was given the opportunity to hang some of my photos in a local restaurant (two actually…owned by the same people).  When it came time to confirm the dates and locations, the owner had made the mistake of booking two of us at the same time.  Through several emails, the three of us were able to settle on a plan.

In April I received a detailed email from the owner explaining the process for hanging my photos in the first restaurant.  My mom was in town, so she helped me get them hung for which I was so grateful.  After hanging in the first restaurant for eight weeks, I received another email detailing the swap from one location to another.  This time I was able to persuade a friend to help me out.

As the time approached to take down my photos (after another eight weeks) I didn’t receive a detailed email.  I wasn’t concerned because I was certain that I knew when to be there and what to do.  The Saturday before I thought I needed to take my photos down, I went hiking near Mount Rainier.  It was a completely uninterrupted day due to lack of cell phone coverage.  When we finished hiking, and got within cell phone coverage, I noticed a lot of email messages.  In a move that is not like me at all, I made the conscience decision to ignore all messages and enjoy the rest of my day.

It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized I had multiple emails and Facebook messages from the owner of the restaurant stating that the “new” artist was on site waiting for me to take down my photos so she could hang her paintings.  OMGosh…panic set in.

I called the owner on her cell phone and left a message, I emailed her directly and via Facebook, and I even called the restaurant.  She was unavailable.

I think…because I don’t know for sure how others react…that a normal person would have said to themselves “oops…I made a mistake…I’ve apologized…now I should move on with my evening”.  Instead my reaction was to torture myself by constantly going over scenarios in my head.

  • Did the artist hang out for two hours waiting for me?
  • Is the owner of the restaurant furious?
  • Did they take my photos down and store them some place?

The internal torture stooped even lower.

  • Do they hate me?
  • Will I even be able to eat at that restaurant again?

It all sounds like the ranting of a crazy woman now, but it was real.

I frequently berate myself for letting others down or even for slight inconveniences that I cause others.  While, as I mentioned above, I freely offer forgiveness to those who do the same to me.

All of this happened on a Saturday and it wasn’t until Monday that the owner called me back.  I quickly apologized and explained the confusion (without mentioning at all that she never sent the detailed email about the swap).  And then she said “no worries…you are not the first artist to miss taking down your art”.  With that simple sentence it was over…she had forgiven me when I couldn’t forgive myself.

I wish I could say that I won’t torture myself in the future, but the truth is I probably will.  My lack of self forgiveness didn’t just pop up one day, so I certainly don’t expect it to go away after this incident.

Do you easily forgive others, but not yourself?


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