Penance and the Act of Self Forgiveness

Until recently I was an attached slave and the Master I served had a forgiveness ritual that we were to use.  It was something that was much more helpful to me than desired by him.  Unfortunately, that meant it sometimes went unused which caused some troubles for me mentally and interfered with my service greatly.  I tried not to allow it to interfere but sometimes it would and now that I am unattached, I find myself thinking about forgiveness and the ritual even more than I did before and realizing exactly how much it did help me and why. Please don’t think that this will apply across the board to all slaves but it is relevant to me and will be something for me to discuss with any Master I wish to own me in the future.

I grew up Catholic and as such learned that there can be a ritual for everything and anything.  The ritual of forgiveness within the Catholic church goes by many names: reconciliation, confession, penance.  Each name is used by different people for the same act, as the focus of what each person needs/wants from the ritual.  For me, penance was the key. I have never had a problem stating what I have done wrong so “confession” never really meant much to me.  “Reconciliation” seemed completely unachievable for me unless the scales were back in balance so “penance” was what was required.  I had done something wrong, I was sorry but I also needed to have a way to fix it or help make things better for the person my actions or inactions caused the harm/distress to.

In my previous relationship, there was a stroke count used.  It wasn’t there for the “punishment” as such but rather as a chance for me to experience a pain from his hand so that the scales were once again in balance for me.  I had hurt him, now he had hurt me and since the hurt was balanced on both sides, I could actually accept and internalize his forgiveness whereas without that balance first, I would have great difficulty in internalizing his forgiveness and moving on.  Other options for me also included being able to make things “right” again.  If it was something I hadn’t done, having a chance to do it to make things right, allowed me to experience and accept the forgiveness.  If it was something I had broken, I wanted to fix or replace it.  If it couldn’t be replaced, having some act or thing presented to me as a way to rebalance the scales was needed or I would continue to try and do so myself and never really feel that I had done enough.

There were a few times that my Master would tell me that he could not forgive an offense and that I just needed to learn and do better.  Those few times, I cannot tell you any longer what they were for, but I can tell you that to this day that I still feel great guilt, pain and horror at knowing that something had come between us that  would NEVER, NEVER be forgiven and that for the entire time of our relationship and the friendship we have even now has those three things, whatever they were, between us and I will never be fully acceptable in his eyes because of those things.  As I stated, I do not know what those three things are anymore but I do know that they remain between us because I can never do anything to earn forgiveness for what I did.  This means much to me because I don’t like things to be between me and those I am close to.  Knowing that whatever action I had done back when was between us and is between us would come up in my thoughts at the worst possible times and make it impossible for me to serve fully.  I could not forgive myself because I knew I was not forgiven by them and that I could never again balance the scales between us again.  This is my baggage and mental hiccups so please do not think all slaves have these issues.

So how can a Master help?  For me, I need to find a way for balance to be created.  It can be by receiving physical pain for the emotional or mental pain my actions have caused and thus we have both been hurt and there is balance.  The stroke count worked well for me for this.  It can be being allowed an act to make it up, recreating, finding, even enduring an action that I strongly dislike to again bring us into balance, either making it up to them or by suffering mentally or emotionally myself to again bring the balance.  It must be something I am aware of prior though.  I have had Masters tell me I have punished myself much more thoroughly for an act than they ever could do and so I have “served my penance”.  This does not work for me.  I need to know I am suffering to create the balance or I still feel that things are out of balance.  So a Master can help by trying to have ways to allow me penance.  Create time and space and methods for me to create that balance rather than allowing things to fester and eat me up inside.  They can allow ways for balance to be created and established.  They can be patient with the fact that I do need a way to work towards being forgivable so that I can both accept their forgiveness and forgive myself for the error that created the conflict/issue between us.  They can avoid trying to grant forgiveness without allowing me a chance to bring things back “into balance” and they can use this knowledge of how my mind works and how I can forgive myself to help me gain forgiveness in a way that I actually feel forgiven.  Perhaps that last is the biggest, understanding that I need penance before forgiveness and that I need forgiveness to serve and surrender as fully and completely as I desire to do.

Perhaps after working with this even longer than I have, I will be able to simply accept the forgiveness someone offers me.  One of my first lesson mantras has been “it is for Master to forgive.”  It is my hope that Master, my Master will be willing to work with me and my need for balance between us when forgiveness is desired or needed so that I can accept His forgiveness without doubt of being forgiven and in doing so, forgive myself as well.