One of the hardest things in the world is learning how to forgive yourself. At least for me it is.
You know when people proclaim, “I live with no regrets!” and you nod and are like, “Yeah, what this person is saying is so wise and great. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done either. Ever.”
When I sit back and really think about it, though, I do have regrets in life. I have regrets that make me sick to my stomach and keep me up at night. I can easily forgive myself for any kind of mistakes I’ve made that affect my own life but when it comes to bringing my loved ones into the picture I have a really hard time cutting myself any sort of slack. I want the very best for the people I love, and I would do anything to make them happy. I kick myself whenever I do anything that hurts them, and would take any and every sort of pain life has to offer away from those I care about in an instant. Whenever I see someone I love hurting I wish my superpower could be taking pain away from others and giving it to myself instead. Even after knowing Robert only for a short time I knew with all my heart that I was glad I was sick instead of him. I know illness isn’t a realistic “Either/or” scenario, but I think about sickness a lot and am always relieved that I am the one with health problems, rather than someone I care about. Even after we had only been dating a few months I remember feeling like I wanted to be the one to protect his heart, and that I would do anything for this new, special person in my life — the exact same way I feel about my closest friends and entire family.
Something I used to think about a lot was how I got POTS. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause yet, as POTS has really only been studied since 1993 or so, and they need more information on it. One theory is that people can get sick with POTS after a traumatic event. My “event” happened to be a boy, and very constantly and consistently being stressed and weighed down in a relationship.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret worrying so much about someone who would later not even be a part of my life. In fact, I didn’t know it then, but I would later feel like I didn’t even know what real, deep, true love was until I found it for the first time in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup truck.
I have other regrets, though, that haunt me far more than my illness.
In the same relationship I didn’t stay true to myself — in a lot of ways. I gave up pieces of myself I held near and dear to my heart, all in hopes to avoid ever having to go through any sort of heartbreak. I didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle a breakup, and decided that all the pain my heart was feeling must just be “normal” in a relationship. I thought that love was supposed to hurt, and that men just didn’t care as much about having their partner be a part of their everyday life as women did. I thought that I must be crazy, clingy, and unreasonable for wanting a boyfriend who would be a significant part of my life. I thought the jitters I felt in my heart and stomach were butterflies, when they were really just anxiety. Little did I know way back then that I was already in the middle of a terrible heartbreak — one where I was losing myself completely.
There are things I changed in that relationship that I will never be able to get back. I wish with all my heart I could rewind time and do everything over again so I wouldn’t make the mistakes that I did, but clearly that’s impossible. My next-best tactic will have to be learning to forgive myself.
If I knew then what I do now, I would have ended things and stayed single for a few years until I met the person who would completely turn the way I felt about love upside down. I would have known that I wasn’t being treated right, that people should never pressure you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, and I would have known that there are men who care about my heart so much that they will be able to put aside some of their own dreams for mine too.
My heart still hurts often because of mistakes I can’t take back and the way they affect those I love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever be able to be fully loved by someone for forever with the baggage from my past.
Love is patient, love is kind.
This verse often plays in my head when I hear the word “love,” but something told me to dig deeper today. I Google “1 Corinthians 13,” as I don’t know the Bible well enough to recite the entire verse to myself verbatim. I skim until a small collection of words hit me and my heart drops into my stomach.
“LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.”
I want to cry with relief.
God is speaking to me in a way I’ve never really felt before. I know Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins, and I know He forgives me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can forgive myself. I realize a real, true love can caress me gently and understand that just because I am scarred and imperfect doesn’t mean I am not worthy. Just because I made mistakes that really hurt in my past doesn’t mean my future can’t still be bright, healthy, and filled with the authentic love I have always wanted. Even though I can’t make everything right with the mistakes I have made in my life, I can look forward to creating a beautiful life with someone really special. The best thing I can do now is move on with my life and continue to look towards the bright future I have with someone who will be my forever and always, rather than dwell on the things that used to hurt me and tear me down. After all, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who you have been with. All that matters is who you end up with.
Dysautonomia International does not believe POTS is caused by stress or anxiety, so odds are it is not. Stress does very negatively affect the way I feel, though, which is why I now try to keep my life as stress-free as it can be.