It’s extremely easy to be bitter when you feel as though your life was negatively shaped by events in your past; events that you had no control over, yet seem to affect your everyday life even years after the fact. You cling onto bad memories and refuse to let them go, you put walls up refusing to let other people into your life, and you put on a strong front to everyone, thinking that your show of strength will make people believe that you have moved on and put your past behind you. You will lie to yourself and everyone around you when in reality, you truly haven’t moved beyond your past and it still very much affects your present.
When something traumatic happens to you in any stage of life, it is our natural instinct to want to understand why it happened to us and not someone else. Why were we put through so much pain, through no fault of our own, and then left to deal with it by ourselves? We sit and that “Why?” question runs through our head over and over, day after day, week after week. It seems extremely unfair that some of us had to endure so much and then suffer in silence when we see everyone else around us happy and seemingly well adjusted.
I would be lying if I proclaimed that I was at peace with my past; the abuse I endured as a child and the effects of it that still affect me today as an adult. I’m bitter when I have a flashback or a trigger that makes me burst into tears or reminds me of a moment I wish I could erase from my memory forever. I still have walls up to protect myself from feeling any of the hurt I felt as a child, and I know that I lie to myself every single day when I tell myself that I have moved on from my traumatic childhood.
So why cling to something that hurts me so much? Why still let the pain of something that happened over 20 years ago still affect me today? Because I’m stubborn and because deep down, I thought that there was still a chance that I could change the past; change what happened to me and have everything I ever wanted.
I used to sit and think for hours about all of the times Mom got mad at me and hurt me. I’d think of ways I could have changed how she reacted to me or changed how I reacted to her. I used to imagine how differently things may have been if I had just eaten all of my dinner the night she almost choked me to death, or how much better my day would have been if I had just cleaned the bathtub the way that she wanted. I sat for years putting blame on myself and imagining scenarios where I was the perfect daughter with the perfect mother and the perfect family.
I couldn’t come to peace with my past because I refused to accept it. I refused to accept that I couldn’t change anything that happened to me when I was a child and I spent way too many years of my adult life letting that “fantasy” control me.
But I sit here today, alive and well, with a beautiful family who loves me for the person I am now; not the fantasy. I have to accept that I am who I am because of what I went through, and there are people in this world who love me for that. I have to stop being ashamed of what I went through and stop trying to change it; I need to own my past and be proud of what I have overcome to be able to sit here and write this blog today.
Our pasts should never be forgotten because our pasts are what shaped us into the amazing and unique people we are today. But instead of using our pasts as a crutch and a means for self-destruction, we need to embrace what we went through and be proud of what we have overcome. You must accept your past because you will never be able to change it, but never, ever be ashamed of it. Embrace your past and realize how strong you are to have overcome.