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A wrecking ball coming my way…
Clenching jaw, closed fists trying to pulverize the past away, a wave of heat whirling around inside my chest.
The result: another moment of another day of yet another year spent showering myself with a toxic, depressive rain. A rain built from sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, depression, and replaying the same events in my head over and over.
There are studies that show when we replay scenarios in our heads, we reconnect with the emotions we felt with this experience.
We relive the moment every time we think about it. We relive it mentally, emotionally, and physically.
This is why it can deeply hurt again and again—even if this traumatic or hurtful experience happened a long time ago.
My family used to say: we don’t air our laundry in public, yet they had no problem reprimanding us in front of strangers. They were strict and distant. I grew up feeling insecure—a little girl who was afraid to speak up. Shoving in my sadness, my ideas, my need for loving words, for hugs. Afraid to ever say out loud how much I missed my mom, who had passed away.
Growing up, my way of moving on from hurtful experiences came from the following three strategies:
1. Leaving traumatic experiences behind me, walking away toward my own path.
When we come from a problematic or even abusive childhood, the healthiest choice is to disconnect from that negativity and find our own path.
At first, this was a wonderful experience, but year after year, I became conscious that no matter where I went, I couldn’t leave behind my past. So far, distance and time didn’t seem to do anything to the hurt and shame following me around from childhood memories.
2. Being open about it and talking about how much it hurt.
If we cannot erase it, maybe embracing it and speaking about it can be a solution.
I have tried this approach as well. When I say try, I mean countless times of talking about it to close friends or professionals, and it still hurts.
The second stage didn’t work because it felt much more hurtful to keep opening the wound, and having to clean all the garbage that spilled out. How can we cry for an experience that happened so long ago but feels like it happened just yesterday? Again, we replay events in our heads.
3. Pretending it didn’t exist and imagining a better past.
I remained in the first part for most of my life. Running away from it—after talking about it didn’t seem to work. I kept pretending I didn’t have a past and lying about how supportive and loving my childhood was.
Using an “I am always happy” mask to cover. Putting my creative skills at work, picturing sweet memories, and hiding behind a splash of black—my constant desire to run away from home.
We can find our power and freedom from the past through perspective, meaning, and responsibility.
Our version of a story is our perspective. Events that happen in our lives are neutral. They are that—simply events. Especially those that are beyond our control: people’s behaviors, unfortunate passings, events we didn’t ask for.
We are the ones who label something as positive or negative, and if we are the ones who label them, we are also the ones with the control to change this label.
If we have already explored the negative perspective of our childhood or difficult past experiences and found no meaning to what we went through, then shifting to a positive perspective can help us find that meaning.
What is the meaning behind my mom’s passing when I was almost six years old?
Her absence has taught me to connect with her spiritually, and to believe in the power of energy and love. Her passing has gifted me many qualities that I carry with me: resilience, faith, strength, and at the same time, more sensibility to connect with others and their pain.
My negative perspective only included me—my sadness, and everything I didn’t get to experience. To me, it had no meaning.
Why should we be responsible for how other people have treated us? We shouldn’t.
If we are not responsible for how others feel or act, who is responsible for how we feel and act? We are.
We can choose to be victimized—and no, I am not stating it didn’t happen or it didn’t hurt, but do we genuinely want to continue carrying this pain inside our heart, self-inflicting sadness that stops us from moving on?
If we are responsible for our feelings, then we can choose to accept, to give what happened a new connotation, a new perspective. To set ourselves free.
If a person hurts us, or maybe they weren’t there for us the way we wanted it or needed it, we judge them, we resent them—how could they? How can we accept for ourselves that we do the best we can with our life? but somehow we cannot believe other people did the best they could with theirs? Yes, this includes acting in ways that hurt other people.
My family wasn’t always loving. Yes, an event happened. Yes, it did hurt, but I am not that unprotected child anymore, and that was their behavior then. They work hard to provide for me and my brothers; they completely change their lives to involve us, which is also a form of love.
I choose to be responsible for my behavior, for accepting I cannot change what happened, but I can change how I see it. The lessons and gifts this has brought me and how it has shaped the person I am today.
They did the best they could with what they had.
I am an adult: a powerful woman in control of her emotions and her life. I can provide to myself with the love I lacked—the love I needed.
It’s time to release the past we have carried for so long. How can we have space in our hearts for joy, abundance, and gratitude while holding on to pain, to a perspective that is not helping us get to where we want in life?
Do I want to keep holding on to my experiences in the way I have? Or can I accept it happened and ask myself: what are the gifts for my life inside what happened?