When my client sits before me and tells me of her regret for not being an adequate mother and protecting her child from those who bullied her at school some ten years ago, after asking permission, I hold one of her hands and say,
“Let’s assume the regrets you hold are being held in this hand.”
Then I let go of the “regret” hand and I ask her permission to take hold of the other hand, and ask,
“I am hearing you tell of your regrets and the expectations you held towards yourself at the time, but I am not hearing you tell of your limitations. What were the limitations that existed for you as a mother ten years ago at the time?”
What if I have hurt another, inflicted pain, or abused someone else? Can I forgive myself if that hurt remains unresolved?
We cannot live in the house of forgiveness if the pain we inflicted on others is left unattended.
The husband who slanders and degrades his wife by constantly calling her a bitch or a whore, the mother who beat her children, the friend who gossiped privileged information about another friend, the man who stole money from a colleague, all may claim to have locked these memories away into the recesses of the mind, but this does not ensure such abuses are truly forgotten.
A tough guy’s surface talk of sports, work, and what he would do to the attractive girl walking past him were he given the opportunity, may seem to be a crude attempt to prove his manliness, when in reality, it serves to distract him from the buried guilt, shame, and terrible regret and self-anger he has over his past abusive treatment of his wife and children…