The other night I dreamed I was holding a beautiful lamp with a large cobalt blue glass shade. The problem was, I was holding it sideways and apparently I hadn't properly tightened the finial holding the shade on. The shade slipped, the weight of it broke the bulb fixture off, and there was the gorgeous (and expensive) glass lampshade, shattered on the floor. I felt embarrassed - and guilty.
For some reason, this dream haunted me. My friend Phyl Desy suggested I read an article she wrote, How to Live Your Life Without Regrets.
I wasn't able to identify what the glass shade in the dream symbolized, so after reading Phyl's article I decided what I needed to do was forgive myself for breaking the lamp. And as soon as I said that to myself, I got all choked up and near tears. I may never figure out what the dream was about, but it was instantly obvious, from the way I reacted, that I needed forgiveness for whatever breaking the lampshade means.
And this got me thinking about what else I needed to forgive myself for. The first thing that came to mind was for gaining back more than 12 pounds after having lost 35. That was almost half the weight I'd set out to lose, a major accomplishment - and then I blew it. I don't just feel guilty about that, I feel ANGRY.
Then I realized that I've already started forgiving myself - this time by actions, not words. Finally, just two days ago, I got myself out to walk. Not far - another recent back injury is healing and I can't overdo. But I walked 10 minutes that day, 10.5 the next day, and 11 today. This IS forgiveness. It is saying yes, you screwed up, but that's in the past and you can start again and wash away the anger.
Guilt and anger at yourself are all too easy to feel when you have bipolar disorder. Now, I do not suggest you make a list of everything you've done that you feel guilty or angry about. That will just pile it on all and once and make things worse. But try to catch yourself now and then when something you've done comes to mind and you start beating yourself up about it. Say to yourself - silently or out loud - "I forgive you."
I may have to forgive myself more than once for breaking that lamp before I believe it. You may have to forgive yourself for the same thing multiple times. That's okay, too.
Published On: September 11, 2011
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