I have spent a lot of time reviewing my life. Taking a look at my childhood and early adulthood in an effort to better understand myself. My strengths. My weaknesses. My accomplishments. Times I could have made different choices.
How did I become this strong? This scared?
Where I have shown courage? Paralyzing fear?
When did I “quit” and when did I “re-evaluate” or “resign” or “save my soul”?
It’s been an interesting process, and one not everyone understands.
“Why rehash what is in the past?”
“Isn’t it a better use of your time to focus on the present?”
I agree, to some extent. I strive to be fully present, to stay mindful in the moment. To not spend my time living in the past or projecting into the future.
But you know what? Many of us hide away stories from our past in an effort to protect ourselves from what we think will happen if they are public knowledge.
Some of us are ashamed by things that happened before we knew we could speak up, speak out, fight back or get help.
We did the best we could at the time, but in our darkest moments we continue to beat ourselves up for what happened to us.
I should have known better.
Why did I let that happen to me…for so long?
What did I do to deserve that?
Why did I go back?
How could I have been so stupid? Trusting? Gullible?
Not everyone sees the value in looking back into the less than ideal aspects of our personal history. For me, it is valuable to identify patterns, defining moments, or pivotal decisions that continue to affect me. I have come up against some “limiting beliefs” or subconscious obstacles to success and abundance in life and I am curious to know why. When did I stop believing I was capable and worthy and deserving of love, blessings, prosperity?
That can be scary stuff.
We may be afraid that our story will somehow come back to life and hurt us again. Taunt us. Take us back into the dark and not let go.
For some of us it’s shame that motivates us to keep our past hidden. We think, “If the world knows “X” about me it will no longer love me.”
I’ll be seen as the fraud I am.
Everyone will discover I am a mess.
The truth is that whatever “it” is, is already haunting you. The big, hairy, scary beast that you try to keep hidden is there – in the shadows – influencing your life in ways you are not even aware of.
Shame researcher and author Brené Brown says,
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Guess what? These issues we work so hard to hide – sometimes for lifetimes – are only skeletons at this point. Lifeless, dusty bones we have kept locked up, deprived of air and human interaction for so long there is no more flesh to them.
Sure, the memory is still scary. On a dark night when you are all alone you can still feel the deep fear you had, and it seems very real.
But it’s not. It’s just memory.
You are safe now. You survived.
You survived the cruel comment from someone you looked up to.
You survived the abuse at the hands of someone who was supposed to take care of you.
You survived the unending derision from someone who said they loved you.
You survived the secrets you were forced to keep.
They were scary, yes. They hurt you. Scarred you.
But you are not there anymore. Now those memories are just skeletons – the lifeless remnant of something that once hurt you. They are words and scars that no longer need define you.
They only way to know this for sure though, is to open the door. To let the light in.
Let YOUR light shine on that which once hurt you. Realize it doesn’t define you anymore. Truly see how insignificant it is now. Let it go, sweep it away once and for all so you can use that closet for something else. Something useful. Like shoes. 🙂
Seriously. Be Brave.
Open the door.