Are you in the labyrinth?
This last weekend I seem to have had a huge “aha” moment. I was thinking about how we live our lives. If we have experienced trauma we seem to be able to find ways to replicate it. But why is that? We tend to adopt these patterns even though we do not realize we are doing so. Why are we so intent on being locked into old patterns and relationships? Perhaps because these patterns are so familiar, right? If we live with dysfunction, we become pros at navigating this chaos that we are so familiar with. We tend to replicate old patterns because that is how we functioned and know how to survive. We are either victims or we control the situations through whatever means we deem necessary. How unhealthy is that? once we have all this under control we take on the “fixer” role, the greatest hidden control technique. This is also creates co-dependent relationships. If we control the process we have the desired outcome. Can you see how this could become an enabling situation? All of this is not healthy.
But what if we do not have to do that? What if we can truly have happy lives and put the past in the past? You can, I can! Why should we continue to keep ourselves oppressed, victimized, angry, hurtful to others, and always in a state of chaos feeling the need to control everything? By the way, that is so unrealistic.
As I started the process of writing my book I began looking at my past. I focused on the major events in my life, the more traumatic events, and my body responded in ways I did not expect. Those old tense shoulders, headaches, body aches, tremors when I least expected them—they all flooded me. Emotional outbursts, tears, a wide range of unexplained emotions...sound familiar? I felt tired...
“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago,” said Friedrich Nietzsche. If we keep going back to the past, it becomes our present. Then it will beat inside us, forcing us to relive everything all over again only in the present, as if we are living this in the now. The deeper I was getting into the story I was trying to tell, the stronger my body reacted in a very negative way. I felt like I regressed from all the healing and learning I had done and started experiencing unnatural fears. Was I just recalling these painful memories, or was there more that I had to process? Why was I intentionally going back to memories that I did not need to go back to?
This was a very hard question. The emotional intensity I was experiencing did not feel like it was distant but instead felt immediate; like right now. Why was this happening? My ability to survive abuse and the skills it took to get me through the day no longer have a role or a place in my life. I do not need these skills now and what I needed then for a way to function in the world is not necessary anymore. Who I was is not who I am. I had needed to learn new skills, new ways of being. I did so and am finally able to be me. I can honor myself and in doing so I am honoring everyone around me. I had to learn to love myself, the one I am today. The healthier we are the healthier the relationships around us, but keep in mind, only as healthy as others are too. We cannot fix or control how others experience their own relationships. Everyone is on their own journey, honor that.
I first started therapy since my mid 20’s. I did not gain much out of that, not because the therapist was not good, I was not ready. I was battling demons inside me that I was not ready to face. When I was finally ready I was in my early 30’s, so my journey began to true and very slow healing. There was so much I had to work through in order to feel and be healthy. I find this has to be a continuous process, even today, I know when I need support and get the help I need. We are continuously evolving and learning. We have to do the work if we want change, whatever that looks like. I had to heal my past to have a healthy present and future. I forgave but also needed forgiveness. We have to walk the path, myself included. Some of this was filled with shame and guilt, but all I am able to do is to do the best from here on and not let the past define me. Look within and know that you can change, there is a great source of healing with God.
I had battles that I won and some that I lost, but most of these were with myself. I am responsible for myself but I also had to learn how to be responsible for others. Of course this came within the healthy boundaries of who they are and where they are on their own journey. This involves relationships which we are a part of, which means that it is not just about me, but me with connections to others. If I honor myself and others with love, that is not selfish. It is freedom to grow and learn and allow others to do the same.
It’s possible to shape our future if we just stop living in the labyrinth of the past. What lies back there? What do we really need from there? Memories can be tricky. I can talk to my sister about our childhood and we both may have very different recollections of the same event. And on top of that, our memories are very intense for each of us. I so value and respect her; she is such a strong soul. When we have conversations like this, I wonder what my brain might be protecting me from. What is hers protecting her from? Do we need to know the answer to that or is this better left alone?
Our memories can also be malleable and based often on emotions that could create biased recollections. If I say “I am letting go and letting God,” this does not make me weak or powerless but it does give me the freedom to be in the here and now. We have options to stay in the past or walk forward into the future with confidence in who are today. We can free ourselves from the memories that hold us back and which have no place in our lives today. The most important thing to take with us are the lessons that taught us and did not break us,
So, I forgave and asked for forgiveness. If you wronged someone make amends, this too is part of the heal;ing process. If that’s the case and this really is where I am, why am I still holding the door open to the pain from the past? Say to yourself: let go of the past, make amends if you have to, forgive others even if they will not apologize, or can’t. Change behaviors, detach from the broken path and walk in love and joy. Forgive yourself too, you are worthy of that.
Is joy a foreign feeling to you right now? What is keeping you from feeling joy? Is it past memories? Look at them and know that work can be done to open up your feelings and heal. You can do this with no blame, no guilt, no shame, nothing but release. There will be some who will be on board and support you. There will be others who are so used to you being broken that this new you may scare them. Well then, is it time for a new tribe? Create the support system you need to support your growth and healing and the new you.
We do not give up on loved ones but often the healing that needs to take place in each individual is a journey that they must make on their own. You are here, they may be there, still bound to the past that hurts. Until they are ready for the same journey of healing that you are, you may have to walk alone. We are never completely alone, though. God has been there all the way. Allow yourself to walk through and feel life differently, happy, peaceful, let that healing source flow through and change you. This is up to you. You can live in the past, with guilt, shame, pain, anger, resentment, or else go to that better place. Breath in new life.
This weekend I decided to stop living in the labyrinth of my past. I had worked so hard to move past all of that so why should I tune my brain into that channel? As I had been looking back into my life, I had felt such a disconnect, such a sense of doom, gloom. I felt some of the same feelings of the person who I had been come to the forefront. Why? Why would I be doing this to myself? Other voices started creeping in and my self-esteem plummeted.
Being a prisoner of the past, I realized, is now MY choice. So I tuned out the noise, and went within. Hello there my friend....hello to now....feel the warm embrace, the safety, the peace....let it flow...The mistakes you made do not define you....The choices you made are not set in stone and forever. Be here with me in the now. Accept myself for who I am today. Accept the circumstances and help me walk in Grace. I want to walk in the now and look forward to the future. To develop a spiritual path that shares light and offers healing. “Be still and know that I am God” These words mean so much to me, they bring me peace.
I will follow up with writings about how to move forward and walk out of the labyrinth of the past and how to be in today. As I was hiking with my husband on a beautiful trail by the beach, this was my “aha” moment. If I am not the person who I was, I am not in the situations I was, why am I allowing myself to still live there and be defined by her? So here I am, fully present today, here, now. My heart is open and my mind willing to explore the beauty and happiness life brings. Open for blessings.
“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” (Cherokee Indian Proverb)