To Forgive Yourself

Jeroen Brouwers, a Dutch writer, in his Dateless Days (2007) describe his thoughts on bad memories (The Low Countries ed. 20). He escaped from the town, made his steps alone in the woods, trying to calm himself down. He wrote.

‘The hundreds of things you’ve done wrong in your life. Not necessarily on purpose, it may have happened trough stupidity, clumsiness, thoughtlessness, by mistake, out of spinelessness, or with no intention at all.

Sometimes a poisonous memory suddenly sneaks into your brain, like an intruder throwing piano wire over your head and pulling it taut against your throat.


Shame at everything that has gone wrong. The older you get, the greater expanse of your past, the more it looks as if your life has consisted of the expanse of your past, the more it looks as if your life has consisted of a succession of bankruptcies. It’s only bankruptcies, not everything has gone wrong, but still.

There are howlers you have committed deliberately and with premeditation, though you could have known in advance you were doing something stupid. The kind of blunder you’ll be confronted with for the rest of your life, comparable with a recurring, incurable disease. When thoughts of it come charging into your brain like armed bandits with nylon stockings over their heads, there’s no way of shouting it down to drown out the shame.


By squeezing your eyes shut a few times you can force back your tears. What good are tears to me?’

These three days, these poisonous memories come over me. They attacked me and made me feeling so helpless.

I admit that there are parts of my past that I have not fully forgiven yet. I had had blunders, bad choices, and stupid mistakes. There’s this thought that I could have done it better. That I could turned to A instead of B, or stay at C instead of moving to D, etc. I think I could plot my life better and I assume that will be happier.

And I surrender. I said to myself. I could never go back. I could never changed the choices I have made. I was naïve. Things were beyond my control.

I want to hug myself. I want to forgive the painful mistakes I have done. I want to love my self despite everything wrong I have done. I want to be friends with my dark memories. When they come again someday, I would hug them and tell them I love myself anyway. And, I love them too.

Life is awaiting for me and I can’t dwell on my past. I want to set myself free from all the burdens I am carrying from my past.

So I have decided. I forgive myself. I am set free.