I have thought a lot about self-forgiveness recently. It's a topic that keeps coming up, and I have come to think, from the many people I've met through my work with The Forgiveness Project, that it is perhaps the hardest type of forgiveness of all.
Ever since I killed my cat several years ago by accidently trapping him in the washing machine, self-forgiveness has been a subject close to my heart. I remember so clearly going to unload the machine and wondering how my black fleece had got in among all the whites -- then realizing my appalling mistake. I was distraught, so much so that my husband commented at the time that I'd cried more about the cat than I had about my recently deceased and very much loved grandmother. The fact I had been wholly responsible for the death of this adored family pet sat heavily with me for days. My children blamed me, and I blamed myself -- whilst also feeling infuriated by those who seemed to find it all so funny. I didn't think I'd ever get over it, let alone forgive myself. The worst of it was, I'd seen the cat around my feet minutes earlier, and then, when I went to answer the phone, forgot. There were no mitigating circumstances.
However, exactly a week to the day after I killed the cat, I woke up feeling lighter. I understand now that this feeling of lightness came from me finally being able to forgive myself. I was able to reason at this point that what I had done was an accident, and that I had killed an animal -- not a human being.
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