I didn’t think it through when I chose to take the high road during a traumatic time in my life. Ever done that? I made a promise. I’ve kept the promise. I will continue to keep the promise. I will keep the promise all-conditionally, not because I owe the person who asked me to, but because breaking the promise might hurt someone else I love very much. Seems easy enough when I put it that way, doesn’t it?
The thing we have to remember is that if we choose to go within and see our responsibility in a situation and we own it, we can also choose the path of least resistance in becoming our best self. If we choose the path of compassion for everyone involved and don’t place blame on another person even when it’s confusing and feels like we are being “wronged,” we can also choose to not share the hurtful details with someone else who might have a positive and loving relationship with this person. We can separate ourselves and respect the fact that just because our relationship with someone is toxic, it doesn’t mean their other relationships are negative also. It would be unfair to impose our experience on someone else. It doesn’t help anyone to interfere with a relationship between this person and someone we love that has nothing to do with us anymore. As their relationship grows and they keep in touch, we can’t take it personally. We just have to stick to our promise and remember it was our choice from the beginning what to share and what not to share, so they don’t know what they don’t know. And isn’t that why we made the choice in the first place?
I found out this weekend there can be things that happen now, even after all these years, that catch me off guard. In that one particular moment I didn’t find it easy to keep the promise. It all came rushing back and I saw past events without the benefit of being in shock this time, as I believe I was all those years ago while it was happening. The flood of emotion was gut-wrenching and I could feel my heart breaking all over again.
How could I have known there would still be times when I would want to scream, “Are you kidding me?!?” Only for a few seconds, though. I’ve trained myself (thank God) to zoom into compassion and satisfaction within minutes of feeling hurtful thoughts. I’ve learned the practice of feeling joy in the sorrow, gratitude in the pain, peace in the chaos, and finding the light in the darkness, because I enjoy feeling good and I am certain that state of being puts more good out into the world. When we think about an experience, any experience, our brain responds as though it’s happening in the present. Perhaps that’s where we get the term “the struggle is real.” I’ll confess to you that I had to sit with this one for a while before I realized the actual pain hadn’t come from this person’s actions years ago, it had come from my feelings about his actions (and my own as well), from my expectations not being met. I had assumed he would love me through it all as I’d loved him, that he would protect my heart and do his best to leave things in the best possible way. I’d like to think we were both doing our best with what we had and what we knew. After all, it’s about how you leave things when something is complete that really matters.
I have found the sooner I can find happiness and appreciation in all conditions, the sooner everything unfolds before me and I can see the gift in every moment. Today, two such gifts became clear to me and I was able to put this whole incident into perspective.
The first gift came to me this morning through an Instagram post by a beautiful young soul I follow. She is among other things, a talented photographer, and a prolific, authentically vulnerable writer with the capacity to love that knows no bounds. She writes, “…all these fears taking hold of us – keeping us from growing into the things that should matter most to us, out of the sane fact we once placed our hearts in the wrong hands.”
The second gift of knowledge and wisdom today came from a reminder I’d recorded months ago and it popped up on my phone at the very moment I was feeling a tiny bit of residue from this memory. What we see in ourselves and our surroundings today is a result of something we asked for, whether wanted or not, by focusing on it and believing the story we told ourselves. Life is not always easy, but the path to happiness and safety is always simple. Life is not supposed to be a struggle, and sometimes we think we have to hit rock bottom in order to learn a lesson or pay our dues. I have found this belief to be untrue. Now when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, I can say, “You are my old story,” and start to change whatever is not pleasing to me. The same goes for the people in my life who have come and gone. I’m very grateful for the ones from whom I’ve attracted the most pain, for they have been my greatest teachers.
I can safely say this incident from long ago has now become a good story to tell one day in order to help or entertain others, and I am healed. My promise is now delightfully effortless to keep. If and when this person from my past crosses my mind or if we should ever meet again, I can smile warmly and see him with compassion as I whisper to myself…”No worries, there is no blame here. Once upon a time I placed my heart in the hands of someone else and we both did the best we could. You are my old story and I thank you for every moment of our time together.”
It’s all good.
Love always, T