I’m Still Thinking
By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist
Regardless of weekly content, this column is designed to help others expand their way of thinking and promote creativity, empathy, and thought in general.
People often ask me the meanings behind my tattoos. While every tattoo I have has several meanings behind it, I often share the story I feel most relevant to the situation at hand. But the tattoo shown in the picture has meaning for all of us, and so I will share it with you.
As you can see, it is backwards. From your perspective, it may be hard to read what it says, but the reason it is backwards is because I can see it correctly in a mirror. Like all of my tattoos, I got this one for me, as a reminder to myself.
It says, “I Forgive You”.
Do you realize how important it is to forgive yourself for your past mistakes? You are your longest friend. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. It is important to love yourself, and to treat yourself as you would a dear friend. That includes forgiving yourself when you fall short.
I got this tattoo in late 2015. I was clean and sober for a few months, and finally understanding the effect my lifestyle had on people. Not just people, but my family. My children. My friends. I knew that I had a lot of forgiveness to ask for. As I tried my best to make amends, I came to the realization that there would be one person who wouldn’t forgive me: Myself.
I knew the choices I made to drink. I knew the choices I made, the times I hid it, the money I spent that was needed for other things. How could I, knowing how much I didn’t care at the time, forgive myself?
So, I got this tattoo. Without actually forgiving myself, I went and got this etched on my skin. I knew I could not run, and it was only a matter of time before I would be confronted. This is the only tattoo that directly had a future effect when I got it. All of my other tattoos and their meanings were accomplished, and will hold their meaning. But this was the only tattoo that would have meaning in the future.
Every morning I wake up and when I look in the mirror, I see it. I read it, repeat it in my mind, and keep moving about my day. Every picture I am in that I see it, I notice that the text is how everyone else sees it, and it is truly just my tattoo.
We have to forgive each other, and forgive ourselves. People often, however, confuse forgiveness with allowance. To forgive seems to condone the behavior, some people feel. However, you can forgive, and move on without letting the same person hurt you again. Forgiveness allows peace to take root. Forgiveness allows nights of sleep, with no resentment.
Resentment is a poison that slowly kills you emotionally. It becomes stronger, and the wounds cut deeper. The longer it is until the antidote is applied, the more severe a wound gets. That includes when you refuse to forgive yourself.
Some people, unknowingly, may not forgive themselves of past wrongs simply for the fact that they do not feel like they can be forgiven. That means they won’t accept forgiveness from anyone, allowing their own self-condemnation to rule over their life instead of letting go and moving on.
The truth is, before you can accept forgiveness from someone else, you need to forgive yourself, because you need to know you are worthy of compassion. You need to know you are worthy of life. You need to know that not everyone views you and judges you the way you strenuously judge yourself.
Life is love, and love will provide compassion to allow and accept forgiveness. From the day you were born, and until the day you die, you are an imperfect person. Somewhere in between those dates, you will hurt someone. It will take time, and it will hurt.
Forgiveness is peace. Forgiveness isn’t permission. It isn’t weakness. It is accepting, and moving forward in a unified manner, careful not to break open a fresh wound, but allowing the wound to heal. To have meaning, I must love others. To love others, I must forgive them. And to forgive others, I must be able to forgive myself.
Kevin Sheehan has nothing to add this week.
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