being a teacher

I Forgive

A personal post as the break offers time to ruminate on the ways I live my lives. Moving these thoughts out into the universe so that I can return to regular thoughts on this blog.

I never assumed perfection and yet in looking back I see the strive for it every day. How hard I have fallen on myself whenever I have made a mistake. How I have carried these burdens with me as if they were a weight to carry. Held them up at every opportunity where happiness clouded my vision and I felt so undeserving.

I have done my best and yet I know how often I have screwed up, how I have said it the wrong way, how I have offended, not done enough, not been enough. I can look back at my path and see it through the lens of failure, revisit every pot hole, every blockade. Can’t we all? Those words that cut and thrown my way have become my skin for so many years that there is little left over.

And I have allowed myself to continue on a path of accumulating disasters. Of accumulating failure. Of seeing myself through a lens of never enough, of not good enough, of not deserving the happiness that surrounds others. Of holding my breath because sure, soon, so soon, the happiness I do have will be taken away. Reallocated to someone who should have had it in the first place. The feeling of fradulence seeping through my pores.

How dare I take up space?

How dare I raise my voice?

How dare I ask more questions?

How dare I think that I am okay?

But these words have become too heavy to carry, the mirror become too big and I hear ir reflected in the voices of my students whose pasts haunt chase them into our classroom. Who tell me that for them there is no future, that what lies ahead has already been determined. That despite the proof in front of them, they will never be smart, they will never be good, they will never be anything because failure is what is familiar. Failure and fear are their constants.

And I see the harm. And I get exasperated. And I speak louder and more insistently trying to help them rewrite their narrative because they are so much more than that. And yet they smile, shrug, and repeat once again, “I am nothing…” but we tell them, “you are so much more than that…”

I am so much more than that.

So for this Christmas I forgive myself. Not because I am perfect but because this is not the way to live. This is not the way to learn.

I forgive myself for the past mistakes I have carried with me for so long. Forgive, but not forget, the ways I have needed to grow so that I can be better.

I will unwrap the moments that shaped me and redistribute their weight.

I will be grateful for the long path I still have to walk and make room for all of the moments still coming my way.

I will reclaim my space so that my kids can see what it means to be strong, and sure, and also human.

And I will be okay. Not because I finally deserve it but because I have been okay all along, just not able to see it.

These words will be empty until I live them, but they are being put out in the universe in case others need to hear them too.

Forgive.

Redistribute.

Embrace.

Breathe.

Live.

Repeat.

10 thoughts on “I Forgive”

  1. Oh, Pernille. Yes. Yes, you are enough, always. When I realized how many of the expectations I felt weighing on me were placed there by myself, it helped me begin to move forward. We need to honour our children’s and our students’ voices and how they feel, but we also need to tell them we believe in them, as we need to believe in ourselves. Thank you so much for your honesty. So many of us need to practice forgiveness.

  2. Pernille, I was so moved by your post – especially since your thoughts reflected what I’ve thought so many times in my 68 years! These thoughts pull our souls/spirits down when we should remember what precious miracles we and those we love and teach are! Thank you for so eloquently putting into words my own struggle and for affirming that we are blessed! Merry Christmas and wishes for a peaceful and blessed new year.

  3. This is my experience of myself, so precisely. I find this hamster-wheel of rumination relentless and destructive. These past six months, while adapting to the shift from 5th grade to middle school, the voice inside my head has been especially loud, screaming me up against walls in dark alleys. Two weeks ago, that alley was so dark. With a burning ferocity, I wanted to shout back, “I don’t give a **** and I quit!” then curl up into a ball for a very long time. I took the next day off and spent time on the trail breathing with trees and time on a massage table exhaling my angst. I realized that it wasn’t that I wanted to quit my work, rather my way of relating to it. What I really I wanted was to step off that hamster-wheel of rumination that suffocated my creativity, that strangled my joy. Self-compassion is not an easy thing to practice, but it is essential. For the past two weeks, I have started each morning with an intention and a brief practice that sets my feet on the ground and clears my mind. This isn’t always easy, but it is a choice. One I am determined to make, each day.

    1. You would enjoy a book we are reading in my district as part of a book club for throes who want to be a part of it – Onward: Cultivating emotional resilience in educators by Elena Aguilar. We have an amazing facilitator that helps keep things fun and engaging but even reading and doing the work on your own would be of benefit.

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