Soul scars are potent tells of your strength against adversity. You may have been wounded deeply, but you had to the power and the fortitude to heal yourself, and it wasn't by forgetting what happened.
It was from taking your power back and taking control of your life.
You will never forget the past. Stop trying.
What you will do is come to accept it, learn from it and draw strength from it. It's talons that are dug into your soul will loosen their grip the more you stop trying to fight it. Once you make the conscious decision to embrace the fact that you can't go back and change history, but you can change your tomorrows - the freedom you will begin to feel will be life changing.
Well-meaning people will tell you to; "Just forget it and move on." Others will tell you to; “Let it go already.” You will read books in the hopes that the lessons within the pages will teach you how to forget. How to erase the memories. You will finish each one hopeful, only to come crashing back to reality when the memories and hurt invade your thoughts again.
You will never forget. Your past is woven into your soul. Some of it has left wounds that over time have healed or are still in the process of healing. Soul scars are potent tells of your strength against adversity. You may have been wounded deeply, but you had to the power and the fortitude to heal yourself, and it wasn't by forgetting what happened. It was from taking your power back and taking control of your life.
I made a new friend a few months ago. We couldn't be more different, from how we grew up to how we handle reality today. After a while I knew she was going to become more than a passing acquaintance because of the way our conversations flowed. Where she is trusting and soft, I am a realist and hard. Her childhood was happy and full of adventure; her family ties are strong, and they like each other. Mine was anything but happy, my adventures were more of surviving and I learned at an early age that family can hurt more than even the bitterest of enemies. We come from different stories, different upbringings and arrive at the present moment in completely different spots in life. From the outside looking in, we have nothing in common. We balance each other. Where I am hard, she is soft. Where she is open and trusting, I am a cynical optimist and not as quick to trust. She is quiet and soft-spoken, rarely standing up for herself. I talk like a trucker and command respect.
We arrived at this friendship as the culmination of our pasts. Me, arriving weary and jaded, struggling to let the light back in. Her, open and trusting, faced with learning how to handle the harshness of reality. Both of us learning something new each day. I joke about popping the bubble she lives in, and she gives me a hard time about expecting the worst.
She told me one day that she felt sorry for everything I had been through and was completely taken aback when I told her not to be, I wasn't. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for how I grew up. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn't made the mistakes I did or trusted people I shouldn't have. I wouldn't be where I am today if none of it had happened.
I wouldn't be able to help people if I'd never had to help myself.
Had I forgotten about my past, had I completely and utterly wiped it from my mind, I would have also forgotten all the lessons it taught me. I would have lost the strength I gained from living it, from making it work for me, instead of against me. I don't want ever to forget where I came from because it made me a better person. I may need to soften my edges a bit. Open myself up a bit more. Maybe lose my inner cynic and be a bit more trusting. Work on being more confident in my ability to reach for my dreams. But, I fully appreciate that life is always a work in progress and from experience I know I will get to a better version of me more and more each day because I’ve already come so far.
I'd be lost if I had forgotten. I wouldn't have the wisdom to pull from, the been there - done that attitude that serves me well today. Had I forgot the pain, I wouldn't have the ability to appreciate the feeling of healing. I wouldn't know what it takes to survive and what I must do to let the light back in. I wouldn't know what I was capable of. I wouldn't have an arsenal full of knowledge to pull from when something happens today, tomorrow or next year. I wouldn’t have the empathy I do for others. I wouldn’t see the world with eyes wide open. I would fear the future because of the unknown things that could happen. Because of my history, I’ve learned just to go with the flow and not get worked up over things that haven’t happened yet, may never happen and trust myself to handle whatever happens. I know bad things are bound to happen, it’s life. I am a realist. I just trust myself to see my way through them now.
All because I didn’t forget.
Your past is your story. Your past may be something you need to heal from. It may be something that you draw strength from. Regardless, it is something you need to get you to where you want to be. It only has the power to continue to hurt you, if you allow it to. It's called the past because it's over. Though the after effects can last long into your future, you now have the ability to take control of it and have it work for you, instead of against you. You can use your past to to propel you forward or to chain you in place. Both require work. Hard work. Maintaining a stranglehold on the past, not facing it and visiting with it every day takes commitment. Commitment to fear. Commitment to a known entity. Commitment to being stubborn. Commitment to be being closed off from anything new that could hurt you. All of this takes an incredible amount of work. Imagine what would happen if you stopped fighting it, stopped wrestling with it and just one day decided that it is what it is, and make the decision to take what it taught you to move on.
I used to wish for a delete button inside of my mind so that I could selectively erase memories that made me sad or fearful. Now I wish for the ability to draw the lessons from my memories so that I can be happy, more optimistic and use what they have taught me to help others. One of the biggest things I have learned – you will never forget but once you change your perspective, see things a little differently, feel a little differently – a whole new world opens up. You settle into yourself and stop fighting within your soul. The light finds its way back in and one day you just know you are stronger for your story. You have power because of your story.
You are ready for more of your story to unfold. The past. The present. The future. Your life.
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