The act of forgiving is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It requires empathy, understanding, and a willingness to see beyond your own pain. It is a process that takes time, effort, and intentionality. But if you are willing to do the work, then forgiveness is possible. And when you finally forgive yourself, you will know it. You will feel lighter emotionally, have peace of mind, and enjoy improved self-confidence.
Forgiveness begins with taking that first step. In fact, it may be the missing ingredient you need to start living your life fully again. Here's how to recognize if you haven't forgiven yourself yet—and what you can do about it.
Signs You Have Not Forgiven Yourself
The thought of your abortion fills you with shame, guilt, and regret. So, you try to avoid thinking about it entirely. You stuff down the memories and pretend they never happened. But by avoiding your feelings, you're only prolonging the healing process.
It's important to allow yourself time to grieve after an abortion. This doesn't mean wallowing in misery, but rather acknowledging your feelings and giving yourself permission to express them. By working through your emotions, you can begin to move forward from the abortion and create a new sense of peace and acceptance.
You may not realize it, but if you're berating yourself for having an abortion, you're actually engaging in self-harm. When you tell yourself things like, "I'm worthless," or "I'll never be able to forgive myself," you're causing emotional pain—and sometimes physical pain, too.
If you've been struggling with self-injury, disordered eating, or other harmful behaviors, this could be a sign that you haven't forgiven yourself yet. Remember that forgiveness is a process, and it takes time. Be patient with yourself, and don't hesitate to seek professional help when you need it.
Not being able to forgive yourself can prevent you from moving forward with your life—even years after the abortion took place. If you find that you're stuck in the past and unable to move forward, this could be a sign that forgiveness is the missing piece of the puzzle for you.
It might be helpful to talk to someone who can offer support and understanding. There may also be some steps you can take to forgiveness, such as writing down your thoughts and feelings. Remember that everyone heals in their own time, and there is no right or wrong way to cope with what happened. Just be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to heal.
Maybe you don't physically harm yourself, but you might punish yourself in other ways—ways that are more subtle and harder to see. For example, maybe you put all your energy into work or care-giving so that you don't have to face your own pain; maybe you numbed yourself with food, alcohol, or drugs; or maybe you became a perfectionist in an attempt to control your world (and escape your feelings). Any of these behaviors could be signs that you need to forgive yourself in order to heal and move on with your life.
The journey toward forgiveness can be long and difficult, but it is so worth it in the end. Remember that there is no shame in admitting that you need help forgiving yourself; asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness! However, you choose to pursue your healing —whether it's through therapy, journaling, or another outlet—I hope this article has given you some food for thought as you begin (or continue) your journey of self-forgiveness after an abortion.
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