I messed up

12 Aug 2013

Last week I messed up. 

Not for the first time and, doubtless, not for the last. But it’s still not my favorite activity. When you’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s hard to deal with having messed up. Especially when, as last week, it was just public enough to – as I saw it – leave a small ‘trail’. One or two people witnessed it. They may well remember it and hold it against me forever after – always assuming nothing else ever happens in their life to distract their focus from me. 

But, of course, what happens next in their life will be more important than my – peripheral – mess up.  The one or two witnesses to my mess up are not an emotionally abusive partner.  So, my mess up simply wasn’t that important for them. The events and feelings of their own lives will take over – have already taken over – and I’ll be free to spend as long in toe-curling shame about it as I choose. 

The toe-curling shame is a very old pattern. Left to its own devices, shame is a very toxic pattern. Guess who trained you in that one? 

Shame has a LOT of momentum. Once you slip into that old shame pattern, it will keep bowling along for days, or even weeks. And, as if that’s not bad enough, when you’re in that pattern, your mind keeps looking for – and finding – more proofs of what a disaster area you are. 

I say “you” not because I want to distance myself from my own reaction, but because of a strong intuition that you do the same thing, too. Why wouldn’t you? 

For an emotionally abused woman, shame goes with the territory. 

Which means, it’s really important for you to understand what that reaction is all about. 

To paraphrase an old saying: “To mess up is human. To forgive yourself is divine.” 

It really is. Absolutely DIVINE. 

Your emotionally abusive partner – whose middle name is always “Judgement” – had very strong opinions about messing up. Where he’s concerned, it remains an inalienable human right. Not that he’d ever admit that he does it. But you’ve, surely, been witness to some of his worse human bloopers, and you’ve seen how he takes his – own – mistakes in his stride. 

When it comes to you, it’s always been a whole different ball game. Mr Nasty had the highest standards for you. And the harshest punishments. 

Those punishments included: 

  • Harsh words
  • A harsh price to pay
  • Ritual humilation
  • Expiation by shame, and apology

Not that you ever completed your sentence to his satisfaction. Where you are concerned, there is no such thing as parole. Or wiping the slate clean. 

That’s the way an emotionally abusive man operates. 

Sure, he’s not the only one who operates that way. Every Nasty clone is trained and tested for punitiveness in the Nasty factory on planet Zog. But other people don’t operate that way. 

The problem is, if you’re stuck in a time warp, believing that his way is the only way, you’re bound to experience your mess up as a major disaster. 

You may feel as though you are living on Planet Zog, home of the Nasty Clones, but you’re not. This is Planet Earth, where most people focus on getting on with their own lives, and are too busy dealing with their own feelings to obsess about your alleged mess ups. 

Which means that punishing yourself for messing up is a waste of time. 

Honestly, it serves no useful purpose.

It doesn’t make you better. 

It only ever makes you feel paranoid. 

People mess up all the time. The Nasties of the world will probably never forgive you. Besides, when you try to make it up to them, that only gives them an even more inflated idea of their own importance. 

That’s why forgiving yourself is DIVINE. 

What can you possibly lose by it? 

If there’s a lesson to learn, you can learn it more easily, if you’re not beating yourself up. There’s certainly a life to live. So, it’s more useful to focus on that, rather than what’s already passed. 

This week, I messed up. It didn’t feel too great, I’ll admit. But I chose to learn the lessons. I chose to let myself off the hook. That’s nice. Forgiving myself works for me. 

The mess up wasn’t the best of times. But, actually, lots of good things happened last week. I could easily have missed them if I’d kept my focus on the the hair shirt, the self-flagellation, and the “Should” stick. So, I made a sane choice: I chose to let the good things outweigh the bad.

How about you?  Did you mess up, at all, last week. If you did, will you allow the good things you’ve got going to outweigh the bad? 






Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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