A long, long time ago in a far away place within my mind, there existed nothing but chaos. There was this resounding, continuous droning in my mind of all the things that I was facing, dealing with, living with…experiencing. I felt I didn’t have control of any kind over my destiny, my future, even the moment I was in. It was a time of great turmoil and discontent. Looking back over the span of what is closing in on eight years, I now tilt my head and try to conjure up what that felt like and I can’t. This my friends, I call progress.
My past is always going to be there. I’m always going to be the adopted daughter of my adopted parents. I’m always going to be that girl who partied too much, made bad choices and defied societal norms. There will never be a time that I didn’t make the choices I made. Never will I escape the irrefutable fact that I am a survivor of domestic violence. These many experiences shaped my life, and for periods of time, somewhat defined me. Whether or not I continue to give them power is truly in my hands now. However, I never said, nor have I ever felt that it would be easy to relinquish that power.
What a simple statement, hmm? “The past has no power over the present moment.” Well, to be honest, I can’t completely agree. If we think logically, if in the past we spend the time to get our doctorate in English and we are now a tenured professor teaching said subject on a daily basis, that past was powerful in shaping the moment in which we live.
I do not believe though, that the message being relayed there is so straight forward. If I were to expand on that quote from an emotional standpoint, I would clearly feel the pulling of the past and how many experiences, both positive and negative and even simple growth and the passage of time have shaped where I am in this present moment. We can’t always pick and choose how we feel and sometimes it takes hard work (like with a therapist or other emotional support) to overcome the things we’ve gone through. Other times, it might just be a conscious effort to live better, love more deeply and make changes in our lives to feel better.
Taking a look at these “7 Rules of Life”, I see quite a bit of good being mentioned. “Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.” This is actually quite good advice. The ruminating I mentioned in my previous post about over thinking really applies here. One can choose to exist in a circuitous place of ruminating over an event, a choice, or even a moment of thought. It can consume you, stagnate you and prevent you from growth, independence and even in some cases, from finding happiness. Easier said than done, working with what you have and the skills you’re learning, letting go is truly a physical as well as emotional process. Just like anxiety, which manifests itself both emotionally and physically, letting go is an event. It might take time and might not get buried instantly. I do however believe that when you make that progress, you will feel it.
“What others think of you is none of your business.” Hmm. Not quite sure about that one. If someone doesn’t like me, I’m pretty much in a good place there. I have grown to the point where I truly don’t care. Don’t think I’m attractive, interesting, thin enough, not conforming to some part of another’s belief system etc? Whatever. I don’t have time in my life for that anymore. Alternatively, if someone is proud of me, inspired by me or otherwise paying attention to something I’ve done to advance myself emotionally, I do want to know! I want to feel the moment of joy when I’ve done something that has moved me further away from that time of chaos and lack of self-esteem. So, that’s all relative I guess.
Numbers 3 and 4 are obvious (to me). Number 5 has ruled my life for a while, but I am truly working on it and having some success. Number 6 though, “No one is charge of your own happiness, except you”, is a really strong point that needs to be made. Relying on another to provide you with happiness is a dangerous and slippery slope. People on their own journeys, no matter now involved they are in your life, are not always going to be your personal cheerleader. They will go through their own moments of reflection and issues that test them. It’s during those times that YOU need to find your place with happiness and reside there, let it grow. If you always depend on others at that level, you will never be free to be who you are meant to be.
A little obvious here, but yes, to live in the present (someone recently said in the “here and now” to me) is not to dismiss or forget acknowledgement of the things that impacted you up until today. You can’t forget things that happened to you or deny they happened. Well, you could, but it certainly wouldn’t serve you well. Admit it happened, deal with the pain, FEEL, but don’t let it define today, tomorrow and moving beyond. One of the hardest things I have EVER done in my life has been to let things go. I suspect it is the same for many of us. I didn’t like the way those awful things in the past made me feel. I do however, love the way I feel RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT and that is what should matter.