I grew up in a very religious and conservative home. I am also one who, in the past, has had to learn the hard way. Tell me something was hot? I didn’t reeeeally know until I put my own hand on it and burned myself. During my high school and college years I made almost every “mistake” that I had been taught to avoid growing up. I acted irresponsibly with my education and my safety, I trusted abominable individuals who had given me no reason to trust them, and I decided that any and everything my parents had strongly suggested that I avoid I should try! Suffice to say the meme that says…
“well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my actions…”
… really resonates with me. Way to go internet. Many of the choices I made cost me; in pain, financially and most devastatingly in a toll on my view of myself. Failed marriages, unresolved trauma from sexual assualt, an under developed self esteem, struggling to finish school whilst juggling the demand of needing a career and raising a daughter alone are all NOW wonderful events that have brought me immense happiness, and created the resilient, quick to bounce back from disappointment person I am today… but THEN they were hard. Very.
While I can look back now and fully own my own culpability in the choices I made (some were very, very ill advised) the universe was not exactly short on wake-up calls either! I joke (again, now, distance/time/healing makes jokes ok) that for a long while I was a walking Murphy’s Law… if it could happen - it would - to me! I finally tuned into the lesson I needed most. Instead of banging my head on the same brick walls I learned that if nothing else, my history was proof that to heal, you must start inside. Alone, unsure of how I had gotten into a career I wasn’t fulfilled by, with a self respect in tatters I needed to learn to love and cherish myself. That was a major revelation in and of itself.
I was wrongly holding onto a grudge against the universe. I believed that forgiving others, let alone myself was impossible. Too much had happened. Yet, living with the feeling of constantly being held hostage by the upheaval, anger, hurt and angst of my past wasn’t going to work either. With the help of therapy I learned that the hurts had not and would not heal because I had not choose to let it.
I want to say that again: i had not healed because I had not chosen to.
By not releasing the negative emotions, I was vulnerable in the worst way - leaving myself open to the same hurt again.
I worked hard to decide and stick to refusing to wallow in the past pain, I would chose to live in empowerment, wisdom and not victim-hood. Not of my own doing, or those who had aggrieved me.First, I moved on from my mis-steps. After all, my worst “mistakes” brought me some of the (much later) greatest joy, and clearest clarity of what I wanted out of life. I then had to stop beating myself up over the mistakes I had made. I forgave myself for not knowing then what I know now. And for the loss of time, experiences, joy and other emotions that come from taking the longer, much thornier path. Shame, regret and anxiety are not easy things to let go, but once you do the freedom and release is quantifiable.
I went through a rough patch (can you call 5-7 years a “patch”?!?!) and I am proud I got out alive. I am proud I can hold my head high and wear my scars, and lessons as a triumph to what I have learned.
What often looks like failure can actually be success.
I, now, couldn’t be more satisfied with my relationships. Mine with myself, mine with my past, mine with my family, my husband, daughter and friends. A relationship, it is true, is not the main indicator of happiness or personal success, but because of how far I have come, I can truly say: