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Accepting the Past

In life, there are chapters that we are not so proud of. These are the chapters that we wish we could rip out and start again. Better yet, burn the pages and forget the stories altogether.

Thinking of the past can be absolutely crippling and defeating.

My past consisted of sexual abuse as a child, using drugs excessively, getting black out drunk, hurting people in my life, having no self-worth, and struggling with deep depression and anxiety. I was a mess, but I was able to turn myself around for the better. I am a completely different person from who I used to be, and I am proof that people really can change.

At times, I’m unable to accept my past. The situations that I have faced overwhelm me with feelings of embarrassment, anger, and regret.

Sometimes we don’t make the best judgement or don’t trust our gut. Maybe we wronged someone we cared about. Maybe some legal trouble occurred. Accidents, loss of loved ones, and other unexpected events rewrite our stories and take our lives through some turns.

Life doesn’t go as planned. When it doesn’t, it can feel like the end of the world and extremely painful.

There were so many days I stayed awake wishing I changed something I said or did which often left me thinking where I would be now if those events didn’t happen. I was constantly stuck living in the past dwelling on my mistakes and situations. I couldn’t close the chapters fully and live the story I’m in now.

I didn’t want to own up to my actions or the chapters that I had no control over. I ran from my past for the longest time until anxiety from self-sabotaging memories wouldn’t end. I had to forgive myself and make peace with my past.

At the lowest points in my past, my family was able to forgive me for the person I used to be. If my family could forgive the wild and hurtful person I was, I could too. There was no reason I couldn’t forgive myself. I kept holding on even when others saw me for the completely different person I am today.

Accepting who I used to be and what has happened was hard, but incredibly freeing. I was no longer a prisoner of the past.

I hated that I treated my family miserably when I was on drugs. I hated that I had to live with the heavy weight of my sexual abuse. I hated that I put substances over the people who mattered. I hated that I hurt friendships and relationships. I hated trying to fix my trauma. I hated struggling with anxiety and depression. I hated that I hated myself.

I couldn’t keep wishing that the bad situations didn’t happen. I had to come to terms with the fact that everything in my past was permanent. I had to let go of my expectations that were attached to the past. Wishing that the past didn’t happen and picturing how previous chapters should have ended will continue to get me nowhere if I keep fixating on it.

I had enough with feeling strangled by my past. The guilt, shame, and anger I had from my past was not helping me create the future I wanted. As much as I wanted to keep holding back from facing my bad chapters, it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I had to relive the painful memories.

Looking back on the past had a mentally draining toll. As much as it was hurtful, it was extremely helpful. I was able to look at my past without any emotions attached. When I did this, the factual aspects of my past appeared rather than the usual unfairness or resentment I had towards it. I was able to pick apart everything in a situation and see it for what it was. When I relived the painful memories, I thought of how the actions or words used affected where I am now. A lot of times, I discovered it was my mindset and negative thoughts holding me back to get where I was today. Not the situation itself.

When I relived the excruciating memories that I had recovered from the deepest part of the vault my mind created, I let go. Knowing what I knew now and how my life ended up made me feel skeptical and proud. I couldn’t believe that the messed up parts of my past somehow led me into a fulfilling and beautiful life.

I learned from my mistakes, apologized to the people I hurt, and stopped hiding who I used to be by owning up to my actions. The bad chapters I endured were important pieces to my story and I’m no longer ashamed of the person I used to be.

The situations and actions that occurred didn’t define me and shouldn’t be filled with shame. I should be proud of the fact that the challenges that were presented in my path made me stronger and knowledgeable.

If I could handle the hardest situations while also battling anxiety and depression, I could get through anything.

Looking back at my past, I’m blessed and amazed that I was able to survive anything I endured. I took life for granted and life is way too short to not see its worth.

There are so many chapters that I would love to burn, but these chapters have all linked together to rewrite my story in a surprisingly brighter direction.

If you don’t leave the past in the past, it will destroy your future. Letting go is allowing you to be strengthened by your past and no longer strangled by it.

You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.

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