Mistakes – Can you forgive yourself?

Sunrise photo by Jan Sikes

Alexander Pope lived in the Augustian Era and was obviously a deep thinker and a poet. But those words he wrote in the 1600s still ring true today.

Are there mistakes you’ve made in your life that continue to haunt you, cause tears and anguish, and you wish with all your heart you could get a do-over?

For me, there is. And just when I think I’ve let go and forgiven myself, up it jumps again and I start all over with the process. So, maybe it will help to voice one of the mistakes that I continually feel heavy guilt for. Maybe in sharing it, I can be done.

During the twenty-five years that Rick and I were married, he worked tirelessly to create a home. Of course, I worked alongside him, but it was through his vision, perseverance, and hard manual labor, we managed to put together quite a compound where people gathered, where music was played, and where dreams were nurtured.

By the time he passed away, we owned over two acres of land with three houses, an antiques store, a music store, recording studio and eight outbuildings. He built a native rock patio, one rock at a time, and created cactus beds out of discarded telephone poles.

None of it was fancy. All of it was real.

Why am I going down this rabbit hole? Because it is one of my biggest regrets that leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of guilt.

When Rick passed away, I was totally lost. I understood that I was not capable of maintaining this compound we’d built. It required constant care. I had no family there. It was his family. And, his oldest son, who was a heroine addict, began coming daily asking for money. I had to move. Fear can be a big motivator.

I transferred my job with the State of Texas to where my oldest daughter lived and closed up the house by October, after Rick died in May.

Bear with me. I’m getting to the mistake and guilt.

Eventually, it became apparent to me I was never moving back to our home and I needed to put it on the real estate market. Mistake #1 – going with a local realtor. I should have gone with an established realtor in a bigger town. Mistake #2 – changing realtors and still staying with someone local. Mistake #3 – eventually renting one of the houses out (that’s a whole other story) and Mistake #4 – eventually losing the property by taking an offer for whatever the bank would accept to pay off the loan.

After all those years of hard work, blood, sweat, tears and love, I lost the property without making even a dime in the transfer. Rick would not have wanted that for me.

And that, my friends, is a guilt I carry, a burden I bear.

So, how to let go? It’s water under the bridge. I cannot go back and do it all over.

I know that Rick forgives me. Forgiving myself is the hardest. Just when I think I’ve managed to move past it all and let go, it comes back.

Today, I found a meditation on forgiving yourself and once again, feel as though I can let go and move on without any more guilt.

Does that mean it’s gone for good?

I certainly hope so.

The only purpose in sharing any of this is to encourage you to forgive yourself for mistakes you may have made. Anytime the guilt tries to come back around, stop. Cancel it and think of something good and positive about yourself. At least that’s what I’m going to try.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and any methods you’ve found for forgiving yourself for mistakes.

74 thoughts on “Mistakes – Can you forgive yourself?

  1. Aw Jan… I honestly can feel your pain, and it’s heartbreaking. (I have an extremely low opinion of 99% of real estate agents. But I won’t go there, except to say that I’ve been repeatedly ripped off — small/local or national.)
    My C-PTSD had me constantly wallowing in self-loathing and self-blame, so I know how much it hurts.
    It was an impressive compound, but it sounds to me like you made the best decision, regardless of all factors. Rick would-be/is glad that you aren’t hurting yourself trying to do that kind of upkeep. And he certainly would want you to be safe.
    Just know you aren’t alone in those kinds of feelings. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment means so much, Teagan. I know you struggle with PTSD and want you to know that you inspire me the way you go forward and create such imaginative and creative worlds with your stories! You rock!!! Thank you for stopping by. Hugs back to you on Angel wings!

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  2. I found your post through Sally’s sharing, Jan and am glad I did. I thought I already followed your blog and am definitely following it now. ❤

    I am a fan of The Honest Guys and their meditations have helped, especially this one. I feel your Rick guided you to these two. ❤

    You did your best with Rick's legacy and the shame lies with those that were not operating in their best space. I understand how guilt and regret can get tangled though and hindsight is never a great teacher, but rather a big stick for self-beating. It takes huge courage to share like this and it's heartening to see how our global village has wrapped you up in so much love. May I add mine for you to the mix….you did your best at the time and no one can ask more than that. Grief and shock are exhausting and you were battling on a number of fronts and coping with huge changes. It takes time to flow with forgiveness for ourselves, as it is not our natural state and we live in such a judgmental world. No judgment here for you, simply love and hope that the mind ripples settle. ❤ Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, Jane, your comment made my eyes get a little misty. Thank you for following my blog. It is amazing to me how people who I will never meet in person can express love across the miles and lift up another. That is exactly what our blogging community does. In a world filled with such strife, this is a peaceful retreat. I do feel strongly that by writing this experience down and sharing it, I was able to release it and move on. No more guilt over this loss. It’s over and done, water under the bridge! I too love The Honest Guys and Jason Stephenson. They are my go-to. Thank you again for stopping by and sharing the love!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww, Jan. ❤ Yes, we share a global, loving village and are so grateful for it. I also go to Michael Sealey's mediations, as his voice and energy are so soothing. Hugs and much ❤ flowing to you, Jan. ❤ xXx

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  3. I would very much like and emphatically join AlexCraigie’s comment. I cannot see any culpable behavior on your part here either, Jane. You always met very special people at the wrong time. I know this, because we live in a similar rural area here. If you meet or know someone here, who is known as a criminal, then you can at least assess this person and know how far you can trust him. 😉 Unfortunately, this is not the case with all others. Best wishes! xx Michael

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  4. Decisions made when we are at our most fragile are not always the best ones with hindsight which is a wonderful thing… we may have made different decisions …However, it seems that writing it down has been cathartic for you Jan…I hope you now find the peace you deserve and need…Take care 🙂

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  5. Jan, you have nothing to forgive yourself for. You supported Rick with his dream and after he died you were grieving and also under threat from an addict who made you feel threatened. You were extremely vulnerable and people in the property market took advantage of you. You were definitely the one sinned against rather than sinning and I’m sure Rick would see it that way. The only person hurt by these events was you and it’s time to let go of this unnecessary guilt. You have memories of Rick and what the two of you had together. Enjoy the memories. x

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  6. Well, that story has ample justification for some seriously powerful regret. But like you say, you just have to get past it.
    For me, as a Nichiren Buddhist for 44 years, the point is to live in the present. We can’t change the past–only how we feel about it. We can’t live in the future–though we may have great plans for it. In the moment all we can do is chant the daimoku (great prayer): Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to bring forth our Buddha nature–eradicating negative karma and putting ourselves in the world of Buddhahood, able to view those past mistakes in a different light–instructional. Because we’re human, we will sometimes be troubled by thoughts of the past. But we can get past them with a little reflection –and whatever prayer works for us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your awesome comment, John. I had no idea you were a Buddhist but now I understand our kinship. I remember the first time you popped up in my world on LinkedIn. You were the moderator for some writer’s group at the time. And all these many years later, I learn of your beautiful gentle faith. I love it, and thank you so much for sharing. I will embrace the Buddhist prayer and I do feel as though I have been able to release this regret from my past simply by giving it a voice. That was my only goal from this post. Again, thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing with us Jan. Grief is all consuming and adding on top of that Rick’s son and others wanting to take advantage of you, it was a monumental ask. As you say, knowing Rick as you do he would not want you to not forgive yourself and will look at all that you have done since to rebuild your life and create such an amazing portfolio of books and love around you..♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally. I do focus on the positive and hopefully, by giving this regret a verbal platform, it will be over and done. I feel lighter by voicing it. I appreciate your beautiful comment! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing that intimate story with us Jan. I totally get you. And as we both know, guilt is a very heavy load to learn to control. It’s like grief, it’s hard to quash and when we feel we’re getting it under control, there are more waves. Thanks for the video. I’m definitely going to watch it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Debby. Guilt is a very heavy load to bear and I’m doing my best to lay it down and not pick it back up. I found the meditation to be very helpful and hope you will too. I appreciate you stopping by! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am just about to pour a coffee and listen to the mediation. Yes, learning to let go of guilt seems to be an art we need to master ❤

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  9. Hi Jan, I am very sorry you lost the property and centre you and Rick worked so hard to build. It is a shame for you financially. BUT, this is a financial error of misjudgment. It wasn’t intentional, it was merely misjudgment cause by your devastation and pain. You didn’t hurt yourself physically or anyone else either. You feel you let Rick down because of the money, but money isn’t really very important. Of course, we all need money to live but you are okay and you have revered Rick’s memory, writing your memoirs and through your love of music. I don’t believe you should be feeling any guilt over something like this. I think you should let it go.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Robbie. I actually feel like I have. I hope it doesn’t come back around again. If it does, I will choose to focus on the positive and let it outshine the guilt!

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  10. I’m sorry you went through all of that, Jan. You’ve taken the right steps, though. Everyone deserves forgiveness. I think after a certain age most of us have regrets, and we all need to forgive ourselves and move on. Thanks for the advice at the end.🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Vashti. My hope in sharing this blog post was that others would find ways to forgive themselves for regrets they may have. You are right. We all need to forgive ourselves, take the lessons to heart and move on! Thank you!

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  11. I could relate, Jan. One of my largest regrets is giving up on property that had been in my family for 3 generations. It came into my care, and after 6 years, I couldn’t keep it going. I sold it, and though I know I didn’t have a choice, it still pains me. My head tells me that I did my best, but the heart still aches. I don’t really have any advice for you, since I’m still stuck. But I do believe releasing regrets is a process and one day, the guilt will have faded away to nothing.

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    1. Oh wow, Diana. You certainly do understand. I’m so sorry you had to face that decision and the following guilt. I pray that you will find a way to forgive yourself and release it completely. It is over and done and nothing you can do, just as I can do nothing differently about our property. I feel that I can finally move on from the guilt and trust that everything happened as it should, even though I don’t understand it. Thank you for stopping by! Hugs!

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      1. I often think about the journey that brought me/us to this moment, Jan. All choices, the good ones and the mistakes, were necessary stepping stones to get “here and now.” Not so bad after all. ❤ Hugs.

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  12. This is such a beautiful post, Jan. Thank you for sharing this side of you. What you went thru, what you and Rick accomplished, those memories and moments are so important. I’ve always struggled with forgiveness too. I’m quick to forgive others, but not myself. Several years ago, I got my second tattoo. I knew what I wanted from day one. It had to be meaningful and not something I’d easily regret. I chose “Ehfar” which is in script on my wrist with 2 sparrows. This stands for Everything happens for a reason. It’s always been my motto. The good and the bad. We take the lessons and memories with us and try to let the rest go. Sending you so many hugs today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mar, for sharing that beautiful story. I love your tattoo. What a great reminder. Everything does indeed happen for a reason and sometimes we never completely know what that reason is, especially when other people are involved in the scenario, which was my case. I appreciate your sweet words and the hugs! Sending hugs back!

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  13. I am so sad that happened. Truly, if my husband dies before me, I think I too will fall apart. I hope my kids hold me up because I won’t be able to. I listened to the video and it helps–I have my own ‘can’t forgive myself’ stuff. I bet a lot of people are listening with the same thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true, Jacqui. We can easily forgive others but struggle with forgiving ourselves. I’m glad you enjoyed the meditation. It definitely helped me. We all have things we wish we’d done differently but holding on to the guilt and continuing to beat ourselves up accomplishes nothing. Thank you for stopping by! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jan, I hear you. I hear you so well. There are so many things we would do differently today. The driving factor may have been fear. However, it was the situation at that time and you had to take action. You did what you could from what you knew and you had to protect yourself. Don’t forget that you were full of grief at that time too. Today you may be able to think more rationally but that is comparing apples with pears. I understand your feelings of guilt so well but you know that whatever you did was exactly the thing you had to do. You will never know what would have happened if you did something differently. Would it have been better? Or would it have ended up with the same result, just a different route? We’ll never know. Who knows it better than you that everything happens for a purpose and no decision is ever wrong. It all leads to the point where you are meant to arrive. Forgiving oneself is the hardest, but sometimes we need to find a way to understand that there is nothing to forgive because It is all in perfect order. Even though we may not understand the greater context. Much love to you, Jan💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Erika. I most certainly was living in a muddled state of grief at that time and as you say, looking back now, I can see things more clearly. But what is done is done. I do feel that maybe I have finally forgiven myself and can move on past that dark spot. It did all lead me to now and now is pretty awesome! 🙂 Hugs!

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  15. Being able to verbalize how you’re feeling is one step in giving permission to yourself. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Real guilt comes when we intentionally do wrong and know it in our hearts. We make the best decisions based on the information we have at the time. Some of those things work out, and others don’t.

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  16. Maybe this will help. Rick is in a place where none of the things we cherished on Earth matter anymore. When you and he have reunited the only thing that will matter is you are together. Rick would tell you t forget about it already. 🤗

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    1. Oh, you are absolutely right, John. Where he is, material things have no relevance. Maybe you can write that into your new story in a way that people will understand. 🙂 Thank you so much for your awesome comment!

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  17. It’s easy to look back and clearly see our mistakes, but not as we are making them. We do the best we can in the moment. All led you to this moment where you are doing what you are supposed to. I think we all carry the guilt and burden of things we decided were wrong. I know I do and the hardest thing we can do in life is to forgive ourselves and find that peace. Hugs xo

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    1. So true, Denise. Forgiving others is much easier than ourselves. I guess that’s because we expect perfection from ourselves and that is impossible. I do know that there was a lesson in the whole ordeal. I just hate those hard lessons. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

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    1. The mind is a funny critter, Craig. It tends to wander to the darker places if left to its own devices. I strive to live in the now. I just needed to unload my guilt suitcase by verbalizing it. Maybe it worked! Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Hi Jan, sharing lessens the load… ghosts of the past are hard to exorcise and they do keep coming to haunt us. Forgiveness is a slow process and you are right in telling yourself that Rick must have forgiven you. Drop the debris dear friend. Stop berating yourself. Life is like that. Sending you hugs.

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  19. Sister, we all have these suitcases of baggage we carry around. Lord knows, I have a lot that I would change if I could. The past is over and done. We can’t go back. When you signed the contract to come back in earthly form, you had to have known the trials you’d face and knew you could deal with it. But unfortunately we’re not allowed to remember any of that. You did the best you could. You didn’t betray Rick. His path was to build it. He did. You faced an impossible situation there and it wasn’t healthy to stay. You had to let it go for your own well-being. It wasn’t meant for you to hang onto it. As someone else on here said, it was only money. Sure you could’ve used it but your lesson was to let it go. Unpack your suitcase, sister. I wish I could my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right and thank you for providing a different perspective, sister. It was Rick’s choice to work hard to build our place. It was not my choice to walk away from it, but at the time, I felt I had no choice. As you say, it is over and done and I am working hard to stop beating myself up over losing it. We do all have our suitcases of guilt we carry around. I’m trying to lighten my load!! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Love you!

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  20. Hi Jan,
    A few years ago, I made a big mistake trying to be everything for everybody. An author whose blog I follow gave me some advice that shook me. She told me to, “Be gentle with myself.” I didn’t realize I was being hard on myself until she pointed that out. I realized as I thought over what she said, that mistakes are inevitable. You nor I will not be able to avoid them. They are stepping stones to building your endurance. For example, if you don’t flex your muscles in your arms, you’ll never have strong arms. The same applies when you want to have endurance. Making mistakes and then learning to live with them strengthens our endurance. We find ways not to drown them but to accept them as a priceless part of life t that teaches us to beware of certain people and that not all people mean well to us. Especially when it comes to the business world and banks. There are phonies out there who make you think they mean well but they don’t. I had to learn that my mistakes didn’t define me. It is what I make out of them that does. So be gentle with yourself and move on. We all make mistakes and we will continue to make mistakes until we cross over into eternity.
    Take care, Lady.
    Shalom aleichem

    P.S. Jan, I cannot post my comment. It keeps telling me duplicate comments. But it is not a duplicate. I am using Safari. I will go to Google. Perhaps that is better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pat. I totally agree with the philosophy of being gentle with yourself. In fact, I have that saying posted to the front of my refrigerator as a reminder. We want to be perfect. We want to always do the right thing. But the truth is that we are flawed human beings and will never be ‘perfect’ according to social standards. But I have found that the more I can love myself, the more others can love me. Confessing a flaw, for me, was therapeutic. Thank you for your beautiful comment!

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  21. I find it so easy to forgive others for their misgivings, but I can beat myself up over my own forever. Lol! 😥 I’ve begun learning this past year that our brain replicates what we feed it. So, perhaps you can shift the thoughts connected to that property. In reading your post, I saw two thought frames – #1 – I created a wonderful home with my husband with great memories and #2 – I let it go without making a penny. It seems your regret comes from not profiting monetarily from it, despite the investment you put into it. That would drive me crazy as well, but if you shift your mind and focus to thought #1, perhaps you can have peace in knowing that you made a mentally and emotionally healthy choice for your well-being when your husband passed away. Some part of you knew that the physical place was just land and buildings. The memories were within you, and it was healthier for you to be close to family who love you. Would some money gained from the property have been nice? Sure! Who doesn’t like a bit of money! But your life since then has shown that you are okay even without whatever money you would have made from it. So, consider shifting your mind to realize that your focus at that time was not on making money but on healing your heart and that you made the right choice. Just my thoughts… 😉

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    1. You are So right, Yvette. I will always choose to hold onto the great memories and the love we shared. One thing I understood from Rick after he passed on is that on the other side material things are totally irrelevant. They are almost like a movie set where we act out our scenes in life. Of course, he would have wanted me to profit materially from all our labors, but I profited so much more in the memories I carry. Thank you for your beautiful comment. Hugs!

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  22. I’m sorry you’re carrying this burden Jan, but you hit the nail on the head. ” Anytime the guilt tries to come back around, stop. Cancel it and think of something good and positive about yourself.” It all comes down to our thoughts. If you haven’t read GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD by Jennie Allen, I highly recommend it. It’s all about taking our thoughts captive. For me, the book was life-changing.

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    1. Thank you for the book recommendation, Jill. I have not read that one yet. We are all flawed human beings. And when we write our characters, I think we can often draw from our own flaws to create them. 🙂 I appreciate your comment.

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  23. Mae’s right – guilt is a horrible burden to carry, and I believe most people carry it over things they regret. You did what you felt was best at the time, all while you were grieving a tragic loss. You know Rick forgives you, and now it’s time to forgive yourself. Sending hugs, Jan!

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  24. I believe we do the best we know how at any given time. So, if we did the best we could, it’s useless to condemn or blame. Even if we know better now, we didn’t know better then, and the great thing is that at least we’ve learned along the way. Sending hugs and love, dear friend 💕🙂

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    1. That is SO true, Harmony. I had never dealt with selling property like that before so I went in blind. My brother is a realtor in Houston. Why on earth I didn’t ask for his help, I’ll never know. Lessons had to be learned. Thank you for your comment. Hugs!

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  25. You said it yourself–you know Rick forgives you. I’m so sorry the past still comes back to haunt you, Jan. Guilt is a horrible burden to carry. When I can’t do something on my own (forgiving myself or someone who’s hurt me), I ask God to help me take that step.That’s always worked for me. Hopefully, sharing this post will be a path to healing for you. {{hugs}}

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  26. Thank you for sharing your heart, Jan. I remember something my brother once said about hindsight being 20/20. He maintained it was 50/50 because there was a 50% chance we’d do something different. The other 50% meant we’d do the same thing again.

    Take care, my friend. I don’t think Rick would want you to harbor this guilt. ❤

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