Loving and Forgiving Yourself

by Katherine D’Amato, HROI Intern

Today’s entry comes to us from Katherine D’Amato, an intern in Human Resources and Organizational Integration (HROI). Katherine shares how GLIDE has been a place that has helped her grow in her ability to love others and love herself.

Katherine DAmato
“For so many people who come with so many wounds, the biggest issue is being able to forgive themselves. When you live on the margins, part of the training is that you are trained to hate yourself.” –Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto

There are many different ways that we limit and punish ourselves. My particular flavor is perfectionism with a twist of anxiety, guilt, and fear. For the past six months, I’ve been interning at GLIDE as part of my Masters in Social Work program, after a career shift from management consulting. In particular, I’ve been working with Co-Directors of Human Resources and Organizational Integration, James Lin and Isabel Montilla, and Co-Executive Director, Rita Shimmin, on projects related to staff development and organizational culture.

One afternoon in January, I met with two staff members to discuss our application for a $25,000 contest sponsored by The Fetzer Institute, whose mission is to develop public awareness of the power of love and forgiveness. Fetzer required all applicants to submit a video as part of the application. I had assumed that we would use some existing GLIDE content, so I was alarmed when it became clear that we would be working with a videographer to create an entirely new piece.
My first reaction? Complete panic. “I don’t have the time to do this.” “There are so many other things on our plates right now.” “Is this really the best plan?” “How in the world are we going to plan, shoot, and edit a high-quality video in enough time?!?”

At GLIDE, it’s not about perfection—it’s about being authentic and trusting each other. Which is why, ultimately, things did come together. The resulting video is a testament to the vision and hard work of our team, which included James Lin, Dori Caminong (Manager of Legacy and Creative Development), Pete Lee (videographer and former FYCC staff), and myself.

I was thrilled with the video we produced. But along the way, I often struggled—not with making deadlines, but with my own emotional experience of the process. During the interviews, I felt insecure and overly rigid. Later I felt guilty when I couldn’t come up with the “perfect” storyline to weave together the clips. I found myself being irritated that we had yet another revision to do and I kept second-guessing my insights.

But in the midst of my irritation and second-guessing, on the fifth or sixth time watching the videos, I finally truly heard Karen Oliveto’s words: “For so many people who come with so many wounds…part of the training is that you are trained to hate yourself.” Perfectionism, anxiety, guilt, and fear—that was the training I had received.
In another clip, this one from Rita Shimmin: “When you don’t forgive, you live in the past. We are about people living in the present and being able to move forward.”
These things don’t happen overnight. But things do shift—and continue to shift. I have become more aware of all the ways we are impacted by social conditioning. I’m learning that the more open I can be about my own experiences and my own history, the more that other people will be freer to do the same. And some part of me—not just in my brain—is starting to realize how important it is to love and forgive myself. This work on self-love and self-forgiveness is critical, since it impacts not only how we treat ourselves but also how we connect with clients and with staff.

Karen and Rita’s words remind me that we are each capable of treating people—including ourselves—with unconditional love and radical inclusivity. And that is certainly something worth making a video about.

Check out GLIDE’s video submission here and be sure to click LOVE IT here to help GLIDE win the $5,000 community vote!