Some memories are like burned paper. Charred but legible. We tried to destroy them but their blackened remains still lay in the fireplace of our mind. Some of the more negative memories, ones that should have been processed and forgotten, hang proudly above the fireplace. Where our achievements should be the pride of place there are dark memories. A constant reminder of days gone by. It is often that positive memories have been discarded and destroyed. A lack of worth dictates that the positive moments were chance. A fleeting mistake by the universe which usually serves up the misfortune that we believe we truly deserve. Joy is a fleeting thing that happens by chance. Pain is the norm.
If we disregard the positives as a mistake we miss the message. The feelings of peace, no matter how small, are a reminder that there is hope. That in the wreckage there can still be moments of joy. It feels like it isn’t deserved at the time but it is. Peace and joy are available to us. With clarity comes the ability to see it more clearly.
Before I quit drinking, the thought of a life without alcohol contained no peace. How could it? How could a life without the only thing that lessened the noise and pain serve up anything other than pain and chaos? Makes a lot of sense but it is a total lie. Yes, there is pain without alcohol. Yes, there is chaos. But they are fleeting. They heal and I progress. I had to learn how to though. I no longer pick at the scabs of the past. The memories of guilt and shame have been put away and replaced with reminders of the joy of sobriety. The drunken shame has become sober pride. If I feel the need to drink I can take those old memories out and look at where I was. The shame no longer keeps me drinking. The shame now STOPS me from drinking.
I drank to escape inner pain. I kept the inner pain alive to have a reason to drink. I didn’t know how to deal with it. Escapism was my only tool. It brought more pain. Eventually, I had no other option but to PROCESS what I was trying to run from. It was scary. It hurt. But it was short-lived in comparison to the years of agonising over past hurt.
Escapism is the process of keeping open old wounds. To tear the scabs of the partially healed. The pain is what we know. It is what we deserve. Existing in a place between pain and fear. The pain is what we know yet we are too fearful to explore it fully.
Instead of sitting with the pain. Carrying it like a burden we must sit IN the pain. It is an extension of us. It is advisable to do this with a professional if the pain is severe. But to progress, we have to remove the weight of the past. What went before doesn’t predict the future. We are not defined by the failures of the past. But we have to embrace the past to remove its power.
It is unpacking the bag of memories. Taking down the painful pictures of the past from the museum of our misery that lives in our psyche. It is re-evaluating the power of the pain NOW. It may have hurt a year ago. Or twenty years ago. But is it as painful today as it was then? Or is it the fact the pain is being relived by ourselves? Picking that scab off day after day. Self-harm. The way is through. Sometimes this means acceptance and forgiveness. Incredibly difficult. But occasionally the only option.
Life really is too short to be at war with yourself. You no longer have to be the casualty of a war that only exists in your mind! It all starts with YOU loving YOU.Life is Too Short to Spend it at WAR With Yourself (linkedin.com)
Someone could hold us firm and stare into our eyes, repeating the words, “you are beautiful.” If we don’t believe it about ourselves, then we will think that persons words make us beautiful. But it isn’t so. We have the capacity to build or destroy. To care or corrupt. To be the person in the world that we want to be. To leave a legacy of love. To make the world a better place for those that come after. Not because of guilt. Not because of redemption for past wrongs or favour for access to heaven. It’s because the inner love that can be achieved spills out from our core. It is achievable. It starts with us. It starts with clarity and ends with love.
Pain and punishment are everyday occurrences for millions of people in the world. In the west the numbers are less but yet we suffer emotional turmoil often at the hands of ourselves. There is enough darkness in the world without building unnecessary crosses to carry. It’s time to take down those old reminders of a time gone by. To accept them as things that happened. Get some help if it is hard to put them where they belong. We have suffered enough. We deserve to be free. We deserve the warmth of love. We are here to share it with others. To tell them that they don’t have to suffer as we did. We do the work so others don’t have to.
I used to think I had been punished in some way to be plagued by anxiety and addiction. But after all these years I look back with gratitude. The lessons I have learned and the journey I have been on has been unique, hard and sometimes unbearable. But I’m still here. Stronger than I could ever have imagined as I walked those halls of regret heavy with shame and picking at the scabs of guilt. I deserved nothing. But ended up with more than I could ever imagine. You can too. Like Jordan Peterson says “you don’t make people less anxious, you make them stronger,” it’s the same with removing escapism. By facing the problems we grow in courage. We gain the strength to face adversity. Life is the same it’s just easier to deal with. Not because it changes but because we do.
Change comes in small steps. Sometimes unnoticeable to us but noticeable to others. So, don’t get disappointed if it doesn’t materialise instantly. Just keep going. Keep believing. Just put one foot in front of the other. Enjoy the moments of joy when they come. Don’t worry how long it will last just be grateful for it. Watch your thoughts. Watch the negativity and treat it as an unwelcome friend. Acknowledge the inner narrative and realise that thoughts aren’t always reality. Look in the mirror and realise the person looking back got you through whatever you went through. The person looking back, who you believe had no strength, got you here. It may not feel like an ideal place they got you to. The strength it took to keep going can be used to get going in a direction you want to head. You are stronger than you realise.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If it’s the first day of a new goal, don’t vow to have everything sorted by the second day; beach ready, emotionally stable and financial sound. One thing at a time. Get to know yourself. Don’t be scared of yourself. Even though you might not like who you are. Don’t try to be someone else. Life is too short for that. Compare yourself to your own metric of success. Chart your progress against your own standard. Walk at your own pace. Don’t compare yourself to others we often don’t know their truth, especially on social media.
Become your friend. You deserve that much. A good friend is invaluable. So don’t give yourself a hard time. Treat yourself with love. Tell yourself you are beautiful. Tell yourself you are enough. Tell yourself you are strong. You are love and have love to offer. Tell yourself it until you realise it is the truth. The past has gone. Leave it there. Yesterday is just a sketch of a moment the edges will smudge as time passes. Each day it will fade unless we choose to keep the sketch alive. Don’t give time to memories that only serve to keep you miserable. Each day is building towards something beautiful. Who knows what it will be. That is fun. That is freedom. That is sobriety.
We were all born with inner love and joy. It just got lost in the cynicism of life. It still resides within us. We just have to accept that it was there before the halls of our memories became tarnished with the negative experiences of life. It’s time to start taking down the memories that keep us prisoner to a time that no longer serves. It is time to heal. The future begins today…
A friend requested an audio version of this blog. So here it is: