Letter To My Enemies Part 2: Self-Forgiveness

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Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Last week I extended blanket forgiveness towards anyone in the writing world who had knowingly wronged me. Then I realised that this had a follow-up part – forgiving myself also.

Like many of us, I tend to be harsh on myself when I fall short of my writing ambitions, my social hopes, or my moral rules. Particularly in this age, which is heavy on commitments and industry, and rightly demands action and participation in society to ward off evil. I get worried when my energy and nature and willpower do not permit me to achieve what I feel I should be. This reminds me of my most recent manager, a keen sailor but rooted in a stressful job. “Sometimes,” he told me, “when I feel pleased at what I’ve accomplished, I take a break and Google boats for a while. You should do the same.”

In IT we have an acronym – well we have a lot of acronyms, but let’s move on for the moment – called PEBCAC. It stands for Problem Exists Between Computer and Chair. It’s an inelegant but artful way of saying we can be our own worst enemies sometimes and need to extend forgiveness to ourselves. Strict Christians argue that allowing self-forgiveness opens the door to inappropriate exoneration and so forgiveness should be either from God to us, or from us to others. The Great Administrator needs to reset the machine.

But somebody has to give Them the password.

If divine forgiveness is instant, then our lack of ability to forgive ourselves is simply ignoring Their will; if God doesn’t exist, then we are wilfully self-flagellating and wearing ourselves out for nothing at all. Either way, it is a waste of energy. So, without further ado, here is my (partial) self-forgiveness list.


I forgive myself for not giving all of myself to all my cherished causes all the time.

I forgive myself for not managing to publish a second novel until now.

I forgive myself for the introverted temperament which makes it hard for me to participate in the activism I know to be valuable.

I forgive myself for not being wily enough to withstand hostile pressure and win.

I forgive myself for not managing my time better.

I forgive myself for not being as devoted to my work as others in the field whom I admire (looking at you, Senator Grace O’Sullivan.)

I forgive myself for not turning up to events that I know I should because I’m too tired.

I forgive myself for not writing fast enough.

I forgive myself for not writing well enough.

I forgive myself for not being zero waste enough.

I forgive myself for not being more reticent, polished and “professional”.

I forgive myself for not always forgiving other people.

I forgive myself for winging it through life a lot of the time.

I forgive myself for being publicly extremely emotional under great pressure. (This is a big one.)

I forgive myself for not being the kind of woman Billy Joel sings about.


That’s it. Now I’m off to Google some boats πŸ™‚

4 thoughts on “Letter To My Enemies Part 2: Self-Forgiveness

  1. I think you’ve just described most people’s life juggles. The “big one” you describe – getting publicly emotional under pressure – is interesting because on the one hand, as adult professionals we’re expected to be reserved and yet on the other, why should we not be passionate about the things we care about? Is it any better to be laissez-faire? Or alternatively to sit, pent up with feelings, yet quiet and inactive? Whenever I stand up and speak in public, I always wonder afterwards if perhaps I should have remained silent – I replay my own words in my head, and worry about whether what I said held any merit or worth. But if I stay silent about something that I care about, then I feel I have let down the cause, whatever it is, and myself. It’s very easy to be too self-critical. I think if we act and speak from a place of integrity, judging the timing and tone as best we can, then that’s all that anyone can ask. And if that means we’re sometimes passionate, then so be it.

    1. Thanks Tracy. I finally lost it in public after months of gaslighting and that’s what that was about. In my own way I’m quite a reserved person and I felt ashamed of myself. But the person who gaslit me I think came from a place if her own pain. I think many Irish authors feared my truth, and sought to earth their anxieties through me. It was a lot of electricity!

  2. Sorry for reading your enemies’ mail!
    In all seriousness, I am so sorry that you had to go through that. My (only) book was ignored in Ireland as well, but probably for very different reasons. Congratulations on the second novel.

    1. Thanks Janet. I’m doing it independently so I don’t have to lick these aul weapons’ boots any more! I hope you do publish more and may Father Fluffy Bottom bless your work πŸ˜€

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