Sometimes I don’t want to talk about it; Most of the time I try to forget about it. All of the hard conversations, and the crying. All of the harsh words and not understanding. Confusion and anger surrounding me.
That was my life for a while. Every once in a while it creeps back in. Most people wouldn’t expect it or know it happened. No one else was there. No one else lived through it. I vowed to get through it, I promised myself I’d be okay if I could just hang in there.
I was constantly angry with God and the faults of others. I distrusted everyone around me. I was displeased with God, but knew he was the only one who truly understood me. He loved me anyway. He wasn’t a lawyer or a special master. He wasn’t a roommate or a neighbor. He wasn't court ordered to spend time with me. He didn’t tell lies about me to other people. He wasn’t mad at them either.
So how come I still was?
How could I forgive them? How could I move on? How could I ignore the blatant questions that were asked to my face in front of everyone around me? How can life be so unfair?
I asked myself these questions over and over again. I’d hide my anger and discontent and rise above it over and over again, only to find that I couldn’t contain it and end up with emotions on my sleeve all over again.
I hated my home town. I hated all of my memories. I hated holidays. I hated perfect families. I hated mission reunions. Yet I would show up. I would participate. I thought I was doing so well. Those who knew me best told me it was a choice. I had to choose to forgive. I would think that I had, and then be overcome with immovable fear and distrust. It’s not a choice. It was too hard.
I tried distancing myself from others and myself. I tried reading my scriptures. I tried telling my story over and over to anyone who would listen. I tried serving others. I found myself in the same place over and over again. Change? How? Everyone makes it seem so simple.
It’s easy to face something head on when you have no choice. It’s easy to tell someone how you feel when they are stuck in the same room as you. It’s never really easy, but it becomes easier.
If we’re honest.
How do we get to that point? How do we break down those walls? Do we want to? Do I want to?
It’s too scary. We're safe with what we have. We may not be safe, but we're comfortable where we are. We know how to deal with things.
I wish I could say I said a prayer and it all got better over night. I wish I could say everything is perfect. I wish I could say I fixed everything, but I didn’t. I wish a lot of things. What I can say is that the past doesn’t define us. We can choose how we will let things affect us. We can cut people out of our lives that aren’t good for us. We can start a new path one step at a time. We can do something right, just for today. To fix everything at the same time is overwhelming.
Pick one thing. Just one thing.
Allow yourself to change. Don’t change everything, but change one thing. Decide to count to three before you say anything. Decide to make your bed in the morning. Decide to make eye contact with a stranger. Decide to put your shoes by the door. Decide to put your dishes in the dishwasher after you use them. Decide to go introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Decide to bury the hatchet. Decide to put aside “those things that so easily beset you.”
There is a great book I read a few years ago called “Who Moved My Cheese.” It’s about realizing that our surroundings are changing, and it helps motivate people to do something new and get out of their comfort zones. One of my favorite quotes from it is the quote below.
Why do we let fear hold us back? Show fear to the door, and then start walking and don’t look back. I love this quote by Elder Holland, “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! (You shouldn’t be serving tea anyway.) Throw the rascals out! Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down. More than one man has been saved from sin or stupidity by remembering the face of his mother, his wife, or his child waiting somewhere for him at home. Whatever thoughts you have, make sure they are welcome in your heart by invitation only. As an ancient poet once said, let will be your reason.”
All of our experiences help shape us into who we become. I finally started being honest with myself. I let myself back into my memories, in those hard to handle places. I let myself feel those feelings, see them for what they were, choose to forgive and move on and then slowly I started to heal. Sometimes I was by myself, and other times I had friends or family with me (in person or on the phone) to get my thoughts out in the open. One thought at a time. One person at a time. One moment at a time. One day at a time. Forgiveness frees us. Forgiving ourselves and forgiving others.
I made a decision to look for the good in others. I decided to trust. I decided to try. I decided to live. I decided. DECIDE. It’s going to be worth it. I promise.