Making Peace With My Past
For those who have known me for a long time, the following paragraph won’t shock you. For those who haven’t, it might (or hell, might not) be a little surprising. I have always been a party girl—just ask my alter ego, Trixie. Always down for having a good time. Now when defining the phrase “having a good time”, it varies widely depending on who you ask. For me, it used to mean being out and about, hanging with friends and acquaintances, meeting as many people as possible, dancing, drinking heavily, and even supplementing with party drugs. If there was something going on, I wanted to be a part of it or I’d feel like I was missing out. If people wanted to have fun, they called me. If people wanted to know what was going on around town, they called me. Getting all dressed up and going out was my thing! I looked forward to it. It was a regular event for me.
For the most part, I had a lot of fun partying. However, there were times that weren’t so fun. Drinking and supplementing with drugs had a tendency to cloud my judgment. I found myself in some bad situations. I also did and said things that I’m not proud of. As I matured and my definition of “having a good time” changed for the better, I sometimes thought about the not so fun times. I had emotions of regret, guilt, and shame. I blamed myself for the bad things that happened because I was under the influence. I felt like it was my fault because I put myself in those situations. I blamed myself for doing and saying asshole things. Sometimes I let the thoughts of these bad times and the feelings of those negative emotions overwhelm and consume me. This began when I started my journey of self discovery several years back. I was growing, changing, and trying to just BE better, but these thoughts of the past were haunting me and making me question so much. Every time they came up, I would just shake it off and push them down. Ultimately, I realized that in order to move forward and heal, I had to deal. I couldn’t continue to push it down. I put on my big girl pants, took a deep breath, and went into battle.
The first thing I thought to myself was, “Why does the word “past” always have a negative connotation?” Think about it. It is usually grouped together with shit you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t. The big, bad scary past. Don’t think about it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t let the people in your life now hear about it. Do everything you can to forget about it because that’s the best solution, right? Not even close. I decided that I needed to shift my perspective because I no longer wanted that to be how I viewed my past. It shouldn’t be defined by all the awful and embarrassing moments because my past was also full of beautiful and meaningful ones. I wanted to stop focusing on the worst parts and start highlighting and celebrating the best parts. When I said the words “my past” or someone brought it up, I wanted it to trigger happy memories that brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
So how the hell was I supposed to do that? Well, if a bad memory surfaced, I started sitting with it. If it meant reliving it, that’s what I did. Most of the time there were tears, but there was a reason it was re-surfacing so I wanted to pay attention. It was like my subconscious was tired of holding on to it. I asked myself, “What did I learn from it?” I took the time to digest it, as painful as it might be, and then I released it. I reminded myself that it was still a part of my story because at one time, that’s how I chose to live my life. Ultimately, it shaped who I am. It taught me some valuable life lessons. I was fortunate to have made those mistakes when I was younger rather than as a adult. I started looking at every bad choice as a teaching tool, not as an opportunity to criticize myself.
A major shift happened as I was listening to Oprah and Maya Angelou converse on a podcast. Maya said something that spoke to my heart (which happens often). She said, “When you know better, you do better.” yes. Yes. YES!! I was on my hands and knees cleaning the stairs and I stopped to pause the podcast. I just sat there, on the stairs holding a magic eraser, in silence with a huge smile on my face. How could I be so mad at myself? Back then, I really didn’t know better. Of course my parents raised me to know right from wrong, but that doesn’t mean that I knew how to do everything perfectly. I was young and that’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Now I know better, so I do better. That’s what living is all about. Maya was so full of tremendous wisdom.
I finally began to forgive myself. Just because there are some moments that I’m not so proud of doesn’t mean I’m a terrible person. I’m freaking awesome! It just means that I’m a human being that made mistakes. The more I started to forgive, the more I truly believed that my life was supposed to play out exactly the way it did. My past experiences prepared me for my current life situation. I’m here now, rocking this amazing life, because of the choices I made—good and bad. I accepted that what’s done is done. I can’t go back and change a damn thing nor should I want to.
It seemed a little silly that I was getting so overwhelmed with all of those negative emotions. What a great life I have lived! So what if I messed up from time to time? Perfect is boring as shit anyway. I wasn’t scared of anyone or anything. I defended myself and my friends at the drop of a hat. I was loud. I took shit from no one. I worked hard and played hard. I took school very, very seriously. I loved fiercely. I kept secrets like my life depended on it. I wore my heart on my sleeve so you always knew where you stood with me. I called people on their shit. I was spontaneous and fearless. I kept my promises. I loved deep conversations. I helped people. I lived for the moment. I was unapologetically me. Some of these qualities led me to making bad choices, but they also led me to making more good ones. I can’t help but laugh thinking about how I still have most of these same qualities. I just represent a more mature version of them now.
I am more at peace with my past than ever before. It is what it is, y’all. Nothing more and nothing less. I want my current actions to speak loudly and show that I have learned from my mistakes. I am a product of my past and proud of who I have become. I have control over what I think and how I feel so I choose, everyday, to think more positively and feel more compassion for myself. I choose to be grateful for every moment of this beautiful, action packed journey called life. I choose to love myself totally and fully. I choose to wake up every day and be the best version of myself. And most importantly, I choose to show myself GRACE. Not only for all the mistakes I have made, but for all the ones I will make in the future. I refuse to live in the past because the more time I spend dwelling on it, the more I am missing out on the most important moment—RIGHT NOW.