Forgiving Others and Yourself in 6 Steps

So this is just the first part of a series I put together on the subject of forgiveness. It’s something that many people struggle with, no matter what age.  Simply my point of view on forgiving yourself, friends, family, and others people in your life — and how learning how to forgive can make you happier in the long run.

Lesson #1 – Forgiving Yourself

I’m not going to act like I know everything about forgiveness because I definitely don’t. I’m not going to pretend like I understand all types of pain that warrant or don’t warrant forgiveness either. However, I do know a bit about coping. I know about resilience. I know about growth. I know about strength. Everyone has their own experiences, but I really believe that if you want to be able to forgive others, you must be able to forgive yourself first. Of course, while forgiving yourself is important, you still want to own up to your actions and take responsibility. Don’t be a dick and blame others for your own poor decisions. Understand why you did what you did, make amends, put a plan in place for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation, make peace with it, and move forward with your life.

Here’s my recipe for forgiving yourself in outline form:

  • Feel Your Feelings
  • Take Responsibility
  • Understand Why You Did What You Did
  • Accept that Some People Won’t Forgive You
  • Put a Future Plan in Place
  • Make Peace With It

Whenever I had a disagreement with someone in the past, I would only see red. There was no room for empathy, just blame and resentment. Whenever I did something wrong (and I knew I was wrong), I’d go to the complete other end of the spectrum and wholeheartedly blame myself, sometimes burying myself in self-hate. There was no deep reflection, there was simply blame, anger, sadness, negativity, and a feeling of entitlement almost…and all of that was suffocating. It led me nowhere.

pexels-photo-256658.jpegFEEL YOUR FEELINGS.

I used to have an issue with cheating on my partners. In one relationship, the entire affair blew up in my face, and I was forced to tell my boyfriend at the time that I cheated on him. No surprise, but we broke up, and I felt…EVERYTHING. I felt remorse, sadness, guilt, anger, self-pity, and most of all, I felt shame. It was the first time in my life that I had to directly deal with the consequences of my actions. It was a reality check! It haunted me, and I think it was supposed to haunt me. The look on his face. The judgement and humiliation I felt from my friends. His friends. The overwhelming feeling of shame that kept me from talking about it for many years. The anger I felt towards him for telling my friends and family about how I cheated on him. The sadness and regret from losing someone important to me for something so fleeting. All that good stuff.

Make sure you feel all your feelings. Just feel, don’t act.

Many people will tell you that it’s not ok to feel angry, especially if it’s your fault. Some people might even say that you deserve to feel shitty. I’m telling you, feel whatever the fuck you want to feel for a few days, get that out of your system, and then start looking at the bigger picture. You fucked up, so stop making excuses, stop feeling bad and harping on it, what’s done is done. It’s time to pick yourself up.


This was never the hard part for me. I’ve always been pretty good at owning up to my mistakes and taking responsibility for my actions.

I grew up in a strict Chinese household, where every “mistake” made was harshly punished. There was no room for cockiness, clap backs, excuses, smartass comments, or disobedience. If you lost your cool, you’d get hit — even if you showed remorse. Because you’re willing to “take your punishment,” it built character and humility. I’m not knocking on my Chinese heritage, but that mentality truly fucked with me growing up, especially going into adolescence and adulthood. It affected all my relationships and made me look at the concepts of right and wrong in an unhealthy and extreme, black-and-white kind of way. Ironically, it also made me look at things that were “morally wrong,” such as cheating, lying, or stealing, in a “well, if I don’t get caught, it’s fine” kind of way. Of course, when I got caught, I’d react the same way I did as a child…I’d cry, accept my punishment, blame myself, and never talk about it again. BLAH.

Anyways, I was so good at taking responsibility, I’d even start putting myself down. Blaming myself for everything, even on faults that weren’t mine.  This self-punishment helped me feel better. People react differently to each situation, but my method only took me so far. What’s the point in taking responsibility for my actions if I might just do it again in my next relationship? I needed to do something about it.



Instead of pretending those weak moments never happened or drowning yourself in self-pity, you need to dig deep. Remember all those feelings you felt earlier? Look at each of those feelings, and try to understand why you felt that way. I could see why I felt remorse and shame, but why did I feel anger? Why did I cheat on my previous boyfriends before? Was I bored? Were they assholes? What brought me to that point in the first place? When did I start feeling differently about my boyfriend?

This self-exploration took a long time to figure out. In short, I was a very passive aggressive and nonconfrontational person. I was a coward. If a boyfriend didn’t treat me well, instead of communicating with him or breaking up with him, I’d cheat as my sort of secret “revenge.” Cheating is much easier than having to deal with a difficult and real conversation. However, after dealing with the fallout, I realized the consequences weren’t worth it. I needed to stop being a wuss and have that difficult conversation instead. Hurting someone by ending a relationship is a much better alternative to hurting someone by cheating on them. Having real talk means you’re being fair to yourself and to the other person, but doing so also takes a lot of balls.

People respect good ole’ integrity and balls. They don’t respect cheaters. That brings me to my next point.



I lost a lot of friends during that time I went through that cheating fiasco. At first, I was sad and thought I deserved it, and maybe I did. Then, I was angry and held a grudge, telling myself that these people who don’t forgive me don’t deserve my friendship anyways. Eventually, I learned to let go of all the spiteful thoughts, and simply accept it. Some people might judge you for your transgressions for the rest of your life, and that’s perfectly fine. People have the right to their own opinions. Their decision to not forgive you may even be justified. In the end, you gotta let these things slide.

You cannot control the actions of other people, you can only control your own.

The point of forgiving yourself is that you do it, not others. At this point, you should already know in your heart that you will be a better person moving forward. That you will NEVER go backward, in fact, you’ll work on being better with every day. If other people can’t see that right now, that’s just the way it is. As long as you know that you’re going to change.

And how will you know that you won’t make the same mistake again?


I’m going to emphasize this part. You need to follow through on your future promises or else you’ll find yourself repeating the same bad decisions over again. You already know how to put yourself in a bad situation, now, the plan is to avoid getting yourself in that situation ever again. In my case, I already knew I was never going to do that to someone again. But how did I get there in the first place? There was a point in my relationship when I started accepting friend requests, a guy would message me, and I’d flirt. That was the beginning of it – and that was the part I needed to stay alert about.

I put together a freaking mantra ya’ll. Seriously. I repeated to myself, “The next time I’m in a relationship, and it comes to the point where I find myself craving attention from someone else, it’s time to either communicate and try harder OR break up.” I made that promise to myself, and I’ve kept it ever since. There’s nothing worse than lying to yourself, so you must honestly commit to yourself first. Use your mistake as motivation to be stronger and better in the future.

Finally, MAKE PEACE WITH IT. pexels-photo-310983.jpeg

I didn’t realize I was over my cheating shame until I started dating my current boyfriend. I told him I had cheated before, but that I had stopped forever (something like that). At first, he got mad, and did the whole “how will I know you won’t do that to me?” ma-jig. Understandable question, but I wasn’t that same person from before anymore. I knew who I was, and I knew all the hard work it took for me to get here. I also knew the role that cheating thing played in my life and how it’s shaped the person I am today.

I didn’t feel the need to defend myself, and I didn’t feel the need to explain the entire situation. I told him, that person was a different me. I paid my dues, put myself through hell already, and if he can’t get past judging me for who I was 10 years ago, then he can move along. I told him early on during our dating phase. It was a delicate conversation, but he let it go right away. He could see and hear my conviction when it involved my self-improvement, and best of all, he still trusted me because I was honest about it.


If you actually want to follow through and become that best version of yourself, you’ll understand that change doesn’t just happen overnight. I’ve struggled with the concept of forgiveness for a long time. Whether it’s being forgiven or forgiving someone else, conquering the art of forgiveness is an essential step towards moving forward with your life, letting go of resentment and grudges, as well as pushing yourself towards growth and improvement. The whole ordeal can be frustrating and nerve-racking, but at the same time, it can also be strangely cathartic and empowering.

*Note: This post addresses “regular” life stresses and should not be applied to serious traumas. If you find yourself in a super traumatic situation and don’t know how to deal with it, I strongly suggest seeing a professional to help sort out your feelings.

*Second Note: I have no idea how to match images with captions, so some of them might not really make sense.

Take care,

Self Reflections On My Balcony

There was this whole drama I went through when my mom kept accusing me of being a drug addict. When she came to take me back home, my ex had told her that I’m addicted to marijuana. Probably true, but I honestly don’t think weed is bad. My mom on the other hand.. she thinks that shit is like heroine or meth or crack. Bleh.

Troy (The dude who helped me in this post: Who Keeps the Dog? Stealing Simba Back From My Crazy Ex) gave me some weed to take home, so I’ve been smoking a pinch of weed each night at my apartment to help calm my stress nerves.

Oh yeah! I moved into my new place! I’m almost settled, and it makes me feel somewhat stable. So much so that I feel like I’m in the clear to smoke now. Afterall, marijuana is legal in California. *wink* don’t tell my mom though seriously.

The only thing keeping me off-kilter now is my pending immigration interview with an immigration officer and my ex. My mom wants me to go through with it. I don’t. Decisions, decisions.

I’m still broke…and hemorrhaging money everyday. Just my car alone, going back and forth seeing Simba (my dog) from my place to Troy’s. I guess it could be worse.

The important thing is that I have my own spot now, that’s truly mine in a drama-free environment. After a year and a half of struggling, either couch-surfing or living with a fuckboy, I finally have MY OWN APARTMENT AGAIN. Roommates, whatever. It’s a great feeling, and if I wanna smoke a bit, fuck it.

I was smoking a cigarette on my balcony, gazing around my neighborhood. I was listening to an ad for Walmart of Target or something on YouTube, and realized the song was pretty good. It was one of those feel-good, optimistic, dreamy slow songs. While listening to it, I noticed the door open from one of the apartments across the street. A man holding a bright pink shopping bag walked out, and a woman was saying her goodbyes. They embrace. He follows her a bit back in, it seemed like he had something to say. I see a three-year-old kid, only wearing a diaper, happily jumping up and down on the couch behind the opened door. The man said bye to the kid, and that was it. The door closed, and I watched as he went down the stairs, walking away on the sidewalk with his pink shopping bag, checking his phone. I don’t know. It’s interesting to watch people.

I’m learning more things about myself, why I act the way I do. I think about whether or not I should change. All my life, since I was a kid, I’ve looked at guys like a conquest or a crutch. Ever since I was 12-years-old, my mind had always been wrapped around boys. Whether it was boy bands, school crushes, boyfriends, hookups, or dare I say–FUCKINGhusbands– I always prioritized it. That’s bad.

I managed to get by in my own life while being boy-crazy the whole time. Seems like my life is number two, while boy life and my romantic happily ever after was number one. Or perhaps being involved with someone else helped keep me in balance. I don’t know.

What do I want though? I had a lot of time to think about it.

I want to be recognized. I want to make a difference. I want to be respected career-wise. I want to be rich and successful and happy on my own. No man. To me, that is the ultimate dream. After I feel like I’ve reached this point, then perhaps that would be the time to consider something serious…

But how can I stop my feelings? Sometimes, I wish I had the ability to turn my emotions on and off like in The Vampire Diaries. Maybe only when it comes to the opposite sex. AH, a girl can dream right?

Who Keeps the Dog? Stealing Simba Back From My Crazy Ex

After moving back to SF (See: Moving Back to SF and Jump-starting My Car), I didn’t have much. I didn’t have my own place yet (I’ve since moved into my new apartment), I haven’t moved out of my old apartment with my crazy ex (I’ve since received a police escort to retrieve my immediate things), and I was unemployed (I’ve since started freelance writing). Things were falling back into place except for one thing.

My dog. A beautiful golden retriever puppydog named *Simba.

I was on the fence about what to do with Simba. The apartment I currently lived in didn’t allow pets, but with the right service paperwork, I could keep him. That would take time though. The other option was giving him up to a nice family. Sad.

After chatting with my old co-worker about possibly finding another owner for Simba, she instructed me to send a short doggy bio and attach pictures, so she could forward it over to the appropriate people.

I sat in front of my computer staring at the cutest pictures of Simba, and I just didn’t have the heart to do it. I could not give my baby away. So I ended up thinking very hard.. and came up with a third option. I needed to find someone who could temporarily foster Simba. Someone with dog experience who lived in SF.

It took about an hour, but I finally found someone who fit the criteria. His name is *Troy and he was an old acquaintance from college.

I didn’t go into detail, and I honestly didn’t know what he could do for me, but I contacted him. After a few minutes, this dude responds, “I’ll help you.” DUDE. He didn’t even know what I was going to ask for!

Troy: “If you’re desperate enough to ask me, then you’re probably in a bad situation.”

Wow. What a good guy. He didn’t even want to hear the entire story, respected my privacy, and was willing to help foster Simba. I owed him a huge favor.

I realized I owed a lot of people huge favors. All my life, I prided myself in not needing anyone for help, and here I was depending on strangers and friends to keep myself afloat. I will repay them in the future for helping me go through this tough time in my life, I swear.

I happily emailed my old co-worker telling her that I found a solution, and I’m going to keep Simba forever. I’m in it for good now. She was happy. I was happy. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Even though I officially had a plan for Simba now, I was still worried. My ex kept threatening he was going to sell him on Craigslist. He kept complaining so much that I was concerned about my dog’s safety. If I know my ex, I know he’s irresponsible and inconsistent. He would overfeed Simba one day and another day completely “forget” to feed or even bother walking him. He’s threatened to give him away before, but when the buyer asked for Simba’s paperwork, it had MY NAME on it as his owner. HE’S MY DOG YO, so my ex couldn’t legally give him away without my express permission.

<^>(0_0)<^> The hate is real.

Anyways, I met up with my friend *Lily, and we went on a mission to save Simba from my ex. You see.. Simba lived in my old apartment. I was so scared to enter without a police escort, but the time to call them had passed. I needed to get in there. My ex knew this, which was why he held onto Simba in the first place.

My ex was under the impression that Lily was going to come pick up our dog alone, so he would need to wait outside to let her into the apartment. Nope. She didn’t want to interact with him at all, so we both went stealth-mode in my car. We spied him waiting outside the building, and I snuck in through the side garage, out of sight.

The plan was to get inside undetected, and grab Simba and his things as fast as we could before my ex returned. Unfortunately, Simba threw a fucking wrench into our plans when we got there. Did I also mention that my ex owns a parrot? This parrot might as well been a guard dog because that little thing was squacking away.. drawing so much attention.

To top things off, Simba PEED all over the place from excitement. Does my ex not walk him? This dog peed a fucking ocean in the apartment! So here we were.. parrot screeching his lungs out as I scurried to clean up the pee-pee mess. The trashcan was empty with no bag or anything. I glanced out the window, and MY EX WAS TURNING BACK TO GO INSIDE. Fuuuuuccckkkk.

So in a rush, Lily and I left the mess on the ground and RAN. Barely missing him, I bolted out of the garage and drove AWAY!

We did a victory cheer on the way back to Lily’s place. I believe I even went into my canine-state and began howling. We walked Simba, he did his potty business, I thanked Lily for her time, and I drove straight to Troy’s apartment to drop off Simba. Everything was getting better, bit by bit.

Troy and I came up with a plan: I was going to come by during the day, while he worked, and he could watch Simba at night. I would be around to help as much as I could, and I could also write at his place. Probably better that way.

I was very grateful to everyone who helped me without asking for anything in return, and it’s something I’ll always remember. I’m happy I got my doggy back.

How to Identify Toxic Relationships

I was reading the latest edition of Psychology Today (the magazine, is there a difference?), and it was about dealing with difficult people. I thought it was really informative and interesting. It made me evaluate family, friendships, and other types of relationship I’ve had in the past, and how I acted with them.

First off, what is a toxic person?

You know what I’m talking about.. It’s that friend who’s June Gloom all year long. It’s that co-worker who’s criticizing what you do no matter how hard you’re trying. It’s that ex who blamed you for every problem. It’s that family member who compared you to a sibling or cousin or friend’s kid. A toxic person is someone who drains your energy, and whenever you leave the room after spending time with them, you consistently feel more negative about yourself and your own life. Perhaps YOU’RE the toxic person *gasp*.

How to Identify the Red Flags? Mmm. Lots of ways.

1) They talk about themselves a lot. No interest in your life at all even if you’re going through something heavy in your own life. Subject is either changed with a swiftness or completely ignored.

2) They are negative, negative, negative Nancy. Down, down, down. Sad face emojis all over the place.

3) They blame others for their problems. Friends, family members, exes, their upbringing, their past, their boss, the person sitting next to them on the bus, the Starbucks barista, Blah, blah. Anyone but themselves, maybe even you.

4) They have an addiction or extreme lack of self-control. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex (like, several times a day everyday sex, or maybe I’m just doing it wrong).

5) They’re manipulative bastards (or bitches!) And you won’t know what hit you. They capitalize on your feelings. They know how to use you.

6) …and lots of other stuff I can’t really recall right now, but you get the gist. 

So basically it’s me!!! Just kidding, but I do have those moments.

I used to think that if a person’s heart was in the right place, and they were THERE for you as a friend.. Then their cons didn’t really matter. I don’t believe that anymore. I really believe that if you decide to keep a toxic person in your life, their bad vibes will not only spread to you (that shit is contagious man), you’ll also have a tough time maintaining your own sanity. If you think that you can take care of them, handle them, or even change/”fix” them, you really need to ask yourself WHY you feel the need to do that. That’s a YOU problem m’dear.

I remember a dear friend I had in college. Let me start by saying we’re not friends at all anymore. We were close, practically besties. We were there for each other when we were struggling, and she helped me out of some shit while we were growing up. We chatted everyday online and hung out regularly. Throughout the years though, our ways of thinking changed. I noticed some things.. She was extremely self-centered, shallow, materialistic, hateful of others, judgemental, insecure, flaky, and she didn’t really empathize well with others.

I was starting to notice that whenever I finished chatting with her, I felt extremely insecure about my own life. She would insinuate things like how I was not good enough. How my then-boyfriend was not good-looking enough. How my other friends were kind of lame. She started criticizing my appearance (my face, my body-shape, things I couldn’t change about myself). Instead of being happy about my promotion, she would say something about how my raise could have been better, or it wasn’t that hard to get promoted. She would ask questions, “how come you sound so much smarter in your writing than you do in person?” Or make comments like, “No offence, but guys approach you because you have a slutty face.” She would blatantly flirt with my boyfriends when my back was turned.

We also went through a lot together. When I was dumped by a boyfriend the day before an important exam, I totally shut down, and she covered for me. She was always available to come over when I was sick or needing a friend. When she found out she had a cancerous tumor growing, I was there for her if she needed anything at the hospital, at home, work. A number of things — we talked about her sucky boyfriends, my sucky boyfriends. Yeah we talked about boys a lot gimme a break.

But it came to a point where our conversations hit a wall. She started judging my other friends on things they couldn’t change. AND she became helllllaaa religious yo.

I finally cut off our 5-year relationship after she told me that all gay people were going to hell. Like she genuinely meant it.. knowing who I was, what I stood for, the good friends I cared about who struggled with their sexuality. I was livid she would say that.. After she had been through what she had been through in life.. She could judge others like that? She even said it didn’t matter whether or not they were good people, “the Bible says it.” OK. The Bible also said some other pretty specific things that she was guilty of.. What did that say about her? In my eyes, she was a hypocrite! Bleh.

It was a friendship that was meant to end, but I hope the best for her.

I haven’t spoken to her in many years, but I’m clearly still thinking about her. Not everyday, but there are some memories. Like any relationship, we’ve had our good times too.. even though most of our moments together were either weird or just plain awkward and bad. This was someone I cared deeply about. Cutting off a bond with someone is not an easy thing to do, but when it comes to your own mental health.. you gotta do what you gotta do. If you’re someone who finds cutting ties easy.. Yikes!

Now that I’m a bit older, and especially after going through my experiences with My Toxic Husband, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let your brain take control. If you let your heart run around making rampant decisions, it might turn out OK, but most of the time, you’re just hurting yourself.

Moving Back to SF and Jump-starting My Car

After a couple months of living with my family back in *hometown, I felt like I was finally ready to move back to San Francisco. After all, I needed to move out of my old apartment with my ex, and I also needed to be in the city to look for a full-time job. I was finally in a place where I felt emotionally strong enough to face my ex (Related Post: Moving on the Unhealthy Way), and I was ready to build myself up again.

When I moved back to SF, I immediately met up with one of my best friends Josie, and caught her up on all my boy drama. I was excited to share my interest in Ronny (Related Post: Falling for an Unavailable Guy While Still being Married), and she shared her guy troubles as well. We went on a mission to retrieve my car, which was parked in my apartment’s garage. We were supposed to *quickly* retrieve my car, so I would be able to drive myself around.

However, when we got there.. I noticed the driver’s door was slightly ajar, and my coin bag along with some petty cash — stolen. As added icing to this terrible cake, my car’s battery was also dead. Completely dead.

Me and Josie freaked out. The whole point of this whole drop off was so I could grab my car and skedaddle the fudge out of my garage before my ex showed up. To this day, I have no idea what the full story was behind my car. My ex has a history of picking locks and breaking into places. Did he break in and purposely kill the battery so that I had no where to go? Was I in such a state of emotional turmoil before I moved back home that I left the doors unlocked? Anyways, there was no time to wonder. We needed to fix this problem and get out of there.

I texted Ronny  to see what I could do. No use. He was trying to help, but how can a guy with a girlfriend have time to help me anyways? Was he supposed to come meet me? Nope. Not possible. Word of advice? Don’t get involved with dudes with girlfriends.

Me and Josie were racking our heads trying to figure out how to do this. The person who really saved the day was my sister. She sent me a YouTube video on “How to open the manual release of my car” and it was such a lifesaver! I learned that even though my car battery was completely dead, I could still manually put the car into neutral, and pop the release out with something knife-like. Once that happened, I could push the car out so that Josie could jump my battery. Oh yeah, did I mention that Josie keeps jump cables in her car? Pretty damn awesome.

Since we didn’t have anything that resembled a knife, we decided to improvise and use the back of an earring (props to being girls!!!!) I jiggled open the release, and we did it! Take THAT dead battery. After successfully jumping my car (after a few hours), I went back to another friend’s place to get some rest.



Even though the day didn’t turn out as planned, I felt one step closer to fixing my life.

This was my checklist:

  • Get car, replace battery
  • File a police report at the station
  • Request a police escort to get things from apartment
  • Move everything out of old apartment into new place
  • Figure out a plan for rescuing my dog from ex
  • Figure out a plan for getting a marriage annulment
  • End contract with immigration lawyer for ex’s greencard
  • Get a full-time job
  • Change health insurance

OK, so I didn’t really do ANYTHING on this list except for “Get car” but I still felt better. I felt a sense of accomplishment for being able to jump-start and push my car without the help of a man. I was tired of being the damsel in distress–that shit was not for me.

There are clearly so many things in my life that I could stress over, but I wanted to focus on the positives. I was so lucky to have Josie and my sister helping me. I was thankful to my other girlfriend for letting me stay on her couch for a couple weeks. I was grateful that another friend of mine let me take over her bedroom since she was moving out. I can pretend that I’m so independent and I don’t need anyone, but that’s not true. At the end of the day, all I needed were my friends and family. Although my car needed some hardcore maintenance done to it, I could still make it work. It was still operable.

In other news, I checked my email, and I had an interview for a pretty big online company. Fingers crossed on that one!