“Everything, including love, hate, and suffering, needs food to continue. If suffering continues, it’s because we keep feeding our suffering.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Just because you’ve been in the dark doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Your past, your trauma, and your pain do not need to be packed up in your suitcase. They don’t even need to stay in your storage locker.
Our lives, including the shitty parts, make us who we are. Ultimately, they make us stronger and wiser if we let them, and we can always let them. Even if we’ve felt or even still sometimes feel broken by our past, we always have the choice to be new, to transform, and to heal ourselves from the inside.
There may be residual effects that pop up in strange ways, like road rage, paranoia or workaholism.
Just because some crazy or dark shit happened doesn’t mean you are broken, or damaged, or messed up. This life can be unpredictable and is full of a rainbow of experiences, not every color is gonna be your fave. Most people don’t share the unsavory parts of their past, but we all have them.
Whether it’s rejection, heart break, grief, abuse, addictions, toxic relationships, neglect, financial disasters, estranged family members, divorce, or loss, we have all experienced some of it. Some of us get lucky and cruise along for a long time. Others get a rough start and come out triumphant. The point is, you are not alone in your pain. It’s part of being human.
Having dark parts of your past is like having a bad tattoo. You can pay to get it removed (although there’s likely to still be some scarring) turn it into something different and better altogether, or learn to accept it and laugh about it. On the flip side, you can also allow yourself to feel shame and fixate on it and point it out to people and constantly remind yourself and the rest of the world how much you hate it. Which would you rather?
You have some options, and only one of them is doing nothing except complaining about it. Our pasts are part of our story, but they are never the full story. They may be the reason we are where we are today, but they do not have to be a part of our future.
We always choose where we are going, despite where we have been.
You are not married to who you once were. Sometimes, we grow, and we change. Often it’s for the better.
Sometimes, people from you past won’t like the new you, even if you feel better, healthier, and more clear headed. Sometimes people from your past prefer the you who took shots of tequila at noon at drunk dialed your ex. Sometimes people from you past prefer the you who let others walk all over them. Some will prefer the shit-talking you who wanted to moan and gossip at every opportunity.
That’s not to say people who take noon shots of tequila are bad people. We are all wonderful in our own right, and we are always allowed to change, shift, and grow, tequila habits aside.
Sometimes, when we change or grow, the people from our past reject us because they are scared of change and sometimes, they are scared to look at themselves and take ownership for the fact that they, too, could change if they wanted to, and yet they haven’t.
It’s ok to love people from a distance. It’s ok to put relationships to rest, and trust and accept that new, better fitting ones will replace them (Hint, they ALWAYS do, but it can take a minute.) Sometimes moving into our future means letting people from our past go, too.
This doesn’t mean you can never talk to these people again or hug them or appreciate them.
It’s your choice whether you learn from your pain, and come out stronger, and eventually, maybe even laugh and joke about it. It’s also your choice to carry your pain with you like a bag of rocks slung across your shoulder. That shit is gonna fuck up your back over time. Set the bag down. Take the rocks and make a cute flower bed or stack them on the beach and let the tides take them. Stop carrying them around for God’s sake.
You do not need to hold your pain close to your chest to be worthy, or valuable, or interesting. You do not need to be in pain to make art, or to be creative. You do not owe anyone your story of your pain to prove your strength or humanness.
This isn’t to say that you need to just “get over it.” Processing pain and healing takes time. It is often two steps forward, one step back. Healing and progress are not always linear, as they say. There will be good days and bad days.
I don’t suggest you stifle or hold back your pain. But one day, you will realize that you don’t have to keep reliving it. You don’t have to pick it apart. You don’t have to know why it happened. You don’t have to be a victim.
You don’t have to be a victim.
You don’t have to be a victim.
You don’t have to be a victim and being a victim doesn’t serve you. Being a victim takes your power away, and it implies that you are powerless when in fact you are powerful. You are vibrant and capable and brave and strong and being a victim doesn’t give you nearly enough credit for all that you are.
Let it go. Tell yourself a new story. Just because someone was once massively unkind to you does not mean there are not a hundred others waiting to shower you in their generosity and kindness.
People are only ever doing the best they know how. That varies from day to day. We’re all just a bunch of meat blobs floating around, pretending to know what we’re doing, and processing our lives and traumas and wants and desires and fears as best we know how. We’re really just a sack of goo floating in space and trying to abide by civility and that is not always easy. Give your fellow goo sacks the benefit of the doubt. Even when they are awful and not so easy to love, understand they really probably are doing their best, even if it seems like a pretty shitty job.
Choose to let your joy define you. Choose to let your gratitude define you. Think of the examples of people you know who have guided you, helped you, offered you encouragement, kindness, support, love, humor, gentleness, affection.
Ultimately, it’s up to you where you put your focus.
Remember, focusing on our pain is our brains unconscious and naive way of keeping us safe from harm. But really, we need to strengthen our consciousness and choose our focus. The more often we make that choice, the stronger we get.
Trust that there is enough goodness to go around. Trust that the world is not out to get you.
Learn from your pain. Feel it, and let it run through you and express it. Do it in private, let it out with a trusted friend. Do what you have to do. Then grow. Move on. Process, write about it, and let the wind carry that shit with it.
You do not need to carry the heaviness of your past through your whole life. You are always new. You are always whole. You are always exactly where you need to be.
The work is never done. Our life is never perfect.
“You can never get it wrong, because it’s never done.” -Abraham Hicks