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how can I forgive myself?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by nowa, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    for having a cat put down, years ago, because she had got thyroid problems, and her anxiety was driving me mad? She had had an operation but it didn't work, and I was mad from anxiety myself, because I had recently come off benzodiazepines after being on them for 27 years.

    I took her to a strange vet, and refused to go in with her when they gave her the injection. I cannot think of any reason to forgive myself.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi nowa,
    Here are some reasons to forgive yourself:

    her anxiety was driving me mad
    She had had an operation but it didn't work,
    and I was mad from anxiety myself,
    because I had recently come off benzodiazepines after being on them for 27 years

    and you're human.

    Being human means we're very addicted to a core self-deficiency, the deep, unshakable belief that we're wrong or not good enough. Self forgiveness for anything is therefore not so easy!

    You might like this short meditation:

    HattieNC likes this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, nowa, as a pet owner of many many decades, I understand your pain and your guilt. Honestly, I don't think it is possible to share our lives with animals without going through this.

    It doesn't sound like you neglected her medical problems, and you were trying to treat her - the fact that you took her to a different vet may be an indication that your first vet was complicit in pushing continued treatment and that you felt guilty for refusing it - is that a possibility? I certainly felt that way a year ago when my hyperthyroid cat was failing as the underlying kidney disease finally started to progress - as it always does. I refused hospitalization and further treatment because of his age, and I acknowledged the resentment I felt against the vet I saw (not my regular one) for being judgemental and pushy. And I chose another clinic for the euthanasia. I recently adopted a foster hospice cat who might not have long to live (some kind of liver thing going on) and when my new vet mentioned possible surgery, I told her I am not going to subject him to invasive measures, since right now (7 months after his shelter arrival as an emaciated stray) he is doing really well and enjoying life at age 13.

    Do I have doubts about either of these decisions? Or about similar situations in the past? Of course I do - because our brains are designed to doubt! But I'm going to hold firm once again, and not succumb to guilt. This is a conscious choice.

    You don't have to forgive every decision you made - sometimes we have to say "that was not the right thing to do" (for instance, not going in to be with your cat at the end) but you can also say that you were doing the responsible thing, and that she was in kind and competent hands - and then make the choice to move on. When you think of the many animals who do not receive the kindness of a peaceful end, you must be able to acknowledge that you did the very best that you could at that time.

    And ultimately, you can certainly forgive yourself for the dark place you were in at the time. Also, please acknowledge that fact that by having enough love and compassion for yourself to be here, doing this work, you are making a significant change that will allow you to move on with your life, with clarity and better purpose.

    And I just saw that Andy has responded - what he says, too :)

    Peace to you,

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes! We may never find perfect self-forgiveness, but we might find tenderness and appreciation for these tender lives we live, and our true sincerity.
    nowa likes this.
  5. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree with the posts above: you are not a malicious person; otherwise, you wouldn't feel so much guilt over and attachment to your beloved cat. You obviously cared deeply about her, and you are 100% deserving of self-love and forgiveness.

    Try to see it from your own point of view - you wanted both you and your cat to have the best possible quality of life, and you had already tried giving her an operation (which many people aren't even able to do). You wanted her to get better, but she didn't. I'm willing to bet it was less about you being annoyed over her anxiety and more about you feeling incredibly sympathetic toward her when her quality of life was very clearly decreasing. As someone who was prescribed benzos for anxiety and began experiencing increased anxiety after withdrawing, it seems like you didn't want her to also suffer from something so difficult, beyond an animal's comprehension. Your actions were rooted in humanity, not maliciousness. We have all lost sight of our own intentions after making a big decision before. You are not alone, and you are not a bad person.

    I once asked my best friend how I should move on and forgive myself after making what I thought was a huge mistake and feeling an extreme amount of remorse and regret. His response? "You have to keep on living." I am not saying you made a huge mistake - I don't think you did. I'm quoting my friend because I think about his advice whenever I make any big decision, even when I know it's the right one but know it'll hurt regardless.

    When the dog I had grown up with was being put down, I didn't go to the veterinarian's office. It wasn't because I didn't care about him - it was because I was so upset, I truly thought me being hysterical would make everything worse. Please lend yourself some understanding.

    It may not seem like it right now, but everything is going to be okay. You have an entire life to be lived, and you are very much so needed.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  6. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much...
    This has reminded me of a childhood experience, which is also haunting me: I will try to describe it: As a child I wanted a dog, I wanted it to be brown/golden and I wanted to call it Rover. My mother got me a black cocker spaniel, and my father named it "Warriboko" , after some african child in the news. I could never bond with this dog, especially after my father started calling him "Boko". Anyway, one day I heard the most terrible screaming from pain, and Boko limped home and made for the space by the water tank, and I was the only one small enough to squeeze in, so I discovered that one of his back legs was smashed up. I got him out somehow, and he was taken to a vet who repaired his leg with a metal plate. Fast forward several years, and we are living in a small town, Boko's leg has collapsed, and he is existing in what must have been a painful hell, he cannot walk, but drags himself about. My father kicks him out of the way, and he doesn't even have a basket to sleep in. One day two elderly ladies knock on the front door, they want to take Boko to have him put down, so I go and get the poor dog, and give him to them, they ask me if I want to go with them and I say "no". My parents are nowhere to be seen and the incident isn't even mentioned. I was about 14 or 15 at the time, and had no idea of how to look after a dog properly but this is hard for me to forgive myself for .
  7. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    @nowa, similar to how you can recognize that what happened during your childhood was not your fault, I think you need to try to lend yourself some understanding when it comes to your cat. You tried to help her get better, and you didn't want her to suffer like you have with things like anxiety. You didn't just drop her off into the forest or put her in the middle of a pack of wolves - you tried to be humane and are still demonstrating compassion toward her. You are very much so a living and important being who deserves compassion, too.

    Do you tend to be hard on yourself in other areas of your life? Has this situation been making your symptoms worse? What are some personal traits that you appreciate and help you feel good about yourself?
    nowa likes this.
  8. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    I will think about this and reply later...but I am sure it has been making my symptoms worse.

    Thank you again!
  9. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    thank you Jan, you are right, I had great doubt about her having the thyroid operation, so when it didn't work, I didn't want to return to that vet... and thank you for the rest of your post.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  10. savasana

    savasana Peer Supporter

    Guilt of this sort serves as a distraction. We are all human and it's part of what makes you, you. It certainly has given you a sense of compassion -- now how can that be bad? :)
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