Am I’m the only woman who has made mistakes? Not by a long shot. There are literally billions of us. If you’re old enough to make decisions, you’re probably a woman who made mistakes. Some of my mistakes have been small and inconvenient. Many have caused me to pause and shake my head. A few of them have been life-altering; I’m intimately more familiar with the last kind of mistakes.
An Open Letter to the Woman Who Made Mistakes in Her Life
To the Woman Who Made Mistakes in her life,
As I sit and reflect on the way that life has turned out, it’s easy to see that where I am now.
I never saw it coming.
And I’m glad that I didn’t.
Knowing the pain that I had to go through to get here, I don’t know if I would have made the same choices. Retrospective knowledge may have saved me some pain indeed. Consequently, who knows what wasteland the world would be if I chose to spare myself heartbreak and tears.
There is a testimony in the trials but the tribulation has to be endured first.
I sit back and wonder: Why did I do those things? Why did I make those choices?
Mistakes were made because I was afraid to be alone.
Deciding where to attend college and then to walk away from the major I invested in for 4 years.
Even the “men” I dated.
Each and every decision I made was because I was afraid that I didn’t have the strength to stand on my own two feet. Afraid that I was too irresponsible to take the lead on who I was to be.
Fear that no one would validate my existence or potential guided me.
Then I wonder how many of the billions of us are making mistakes for a similar reason.
That we are making unwise decisions out of fear.
On various occasions, I’ve been asked…and have asked myself…if I could go back and change anything in my life, what would it be and why?
I reflect upon the men I was with who used me and tossed me aside.
Less than stellar grades I earned because I didn’t study as much as I should have. Bad grades I got because I was depressed after realizing that I was being used. Again.
How I was afraid to know the truth, so I didn’t ask enough questions about an important aspect of my medical history and put my life in jeopardy for years.
Reflecting on how I put such a financial burden on myself and my parents to go to a school and get a degree that I’ve never used.
Returning back to thinking about the men who used me and tossed me aside.
So what would I change if I could?
I love to say that every day is a new chance to make a change. Every choice we’ve made…good and bad…has led us to this moment in time. I’m in a much better place right now. Not because everything in my life is perfect, but because I finally learned who I am.
I realized that every decision, every pain, every hurt, has led me to this moment in time.
I am a daughter of the King and I have found my purpose in this world.
All of those decisions are my testimony to the healing, transformation, and restoration that has taken place in my life.
Maybe you’re not in such a great place today. But if you’re reading this, you’re alive. That means you have the opportunity to make a different choice about who you’re going to be and the difference you’re going to make in this world.
The entire reality of the situation is that we can’t go back and change the mistakes that we’ve made in the past.
They are there (then) and we are here (now).
All we can do is continue to move forward and learn. We can try to not repeat those mistakes. Fittingly, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting to produce different results.
What mistake did you make? Have you done anything to try to come to terms with it? Have you forgiven yourself for that mistake?
I carried the guilt and shame of being an assault and rape survivor for almost 20 years, blaming myself for their actions. Carrying the anger of never reporting because I didn’t want them to get in trouble. Not telling anyone nor talking about it directly influenced me to make a plethora of bad decisions over that time span.
When I met my husband, I started the process of healing by going to therapy. It took me another 10 years to after that to fully forgive myself for the trauma-induced decisions that come with being a broken survivor.
Because I didn’t report the crimes against me, my psyche changed and I went down a very dark path. As things go, I no longer felt like I was allowed to have joy or peace in my life. Grief and shame turned me into a woman who made mistakes.
Maybe your rocky path didn’t start because of an assault. Perhaps you lost a parent or grandparent. It could be that you were bullied or harassed. Anything could have happened that allowed feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, or a lack of self-worth to creep into your mind and tell you that you weren’t good enough or that you didn’t deserve to find joy in your life.
What could I possibly tell you then…and now?
There are so many things that I want to tell you. You need to know that storms aren’t meant to last. They come, create rain, and sometimes havoc, but then they pass over. No matter how big the storm in your life, it will eventually run out of rain.
The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do was to forgive myself. Forgiving yourself will likely be the hardest thing you will ever do.
Ephesians 4:32a tells us to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you…”
Forgive any and every person who has been able to hurt you or make you feel less than worthy.
Forgiveness isn’t about them. It’s about reclaiming the power their transgressions have had over you.
Read Ephesians 4:26-27. It says “’In your anger do not sin’…do not give the devil a foothold.” Maybe you’ve heard it as “He who angers you, controls you.”
The act of forgiveness is not about letting someone get away with a wrong.
It’s the gift of freedom that you can give yourself.
Be brave and courageous.
The bravest thing that you’ll ever do is find the courage to heal. It’s likely that you’re like me. Maybe you’re a broken woman, carrying around years of hurt, anger, and self-deprecation. Maybe you’re still trying to reconcile that you’re a woman who made mistakes.
Girlfriend, let me let you in on a little secret: Not one of us is perfect. We have our flaws, hurts, shame, and mistakes.
But the process of healing starts within. It starts with recognizing that you’ve sometimes made decisions that weren’t the best, but that you’re still here.
Your life is what you make of it.
Every day that you are above ground is a good day.
Each new day is an opportunity to release the fears that hold you back from discovering what life could be.
Not a single one of us is perfect. We have to get up and try again every single day.
Find the strength to love yourself enough to learn how to truly love yourself.
And to realize that you deserve that love.
If no one else tells you today, I love you and know that greatness is within you.
A Woman Who Made Mistakes
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