“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln
Why do we sometimes find it so hard to find strength in our past? If it is something that we have worked through and learnt and grown from, why can we not feel some pride in what we have overcome?
This past couple of weeks I have really struggled in accepting myself for the person I am growing into. I felt as though I was looking at myself through the eyes of the lost girl of ten years ago. I don’t think I have changed into a different person because of my past. Instead, I like to think that I have grown into a stronger version of the girl I always was. Mostly, I feel proud to be a work in progress. By recognising my journey as my own, I continue to learn and grow, steadily moving forward.
This journey of understanding and acceptance has been my process, however, during the past couple of weeks I have been finding it incredibly difficult to accept myself as a work in progress. I felt lost, not knowing if I was my past or if I was the person I have been working towards. Ultimately, I think my struggle has been accepting that I could be both.
Since I have stopped focusing on trying to change my past, I can finally appreciate that I am in a place where I can accept it. Sometimes, however, that acceptance still doesn’t make the past any less painful. I sometimes see these moments of connecting with that pain as a ‘roadblock’ in my journey to the new me. This week, for example, I felt like I was stuck in my past and that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I panicked and grew inpatient trying to get back to a place of acceptance. I knew I needed to turn myself around. In the haste of looking for a ‘quick fix,’ I found myself in a disturbingly familiar place of long ago.
In my last entry I wrote about how our struggles can be a never-ending battle when we fight our darkness with darkness. This week I was reminded of how fighting darkness with darkness and pain with pain will always be the same exhausting struggle. I know I will never succeed there. Choosing to fight a losing battle in a place filled with hopelessness will always keep me from my happiness.
These past few weeks, finding a way out of the darkness has been a far greater challenge than I could have anticipated. I love the life I am now living and building in the light…it gives me such strength. So, why did I find it so intimidating to look towards it from that dark place? I try so hard to disguise or ignore the struggles of my past, that when these ‘roadblocks’ pop up I feel unprepared, putting me in such a confused state of mind. I find that I start to feel safer in that predictable and familiar darkness, in spite of the pain and loneliness.
I know that I have to be careful that I don’t isolate myself there, for me the deceptive comfort I may feel in withdrawing to that place only hides the doubt and fear that will grow the longer I stay.
I do not like that I still go there, not because I think that it is weak or it is wrong, but because for me I have found it to be a place that enables and almost encourages me to give up. I am incredibly grateful that I am now able to recognise myself moving towards that place of losing hope, I now know if I lose hope I will lose my perspective.
There are two quotes that have helped me regain perspective and appreciate that my past is still a place that I can continue to grow from.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation from which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K Rowling
There is darkness behind this quote, however in my present state of mind, it motivates me to remind myself that my darkness is a place in which I can and will continue to grow from.
No matter how I may sometimes feel about my past, it is the foundation I have built my future on. Accepting that my past is an important part of me…well, that allows me to be who I am today. I am who I am today because of my past and perhaps even in spite of it.
I have been able to find happiness in a place where I am building a new life with a fresh start. I think I am able to do that because I have stopped trying to escape my past. I know I am not my past, but I can accept that it has shaped me. I do not feel that I have changed, I can just appreciate that over time I have been able to learn and grow from my experiences. Ultimately this has helped me to find a sense of balance. I am now able to use that acceptance to build a positive future on a stable foundation.
I have found it really helpful to view my struggles as a foundation. I have gained a sense of security since establishing that as a source of my strength. I believe I can continue to find a way to live above those challenges, rather then feeling resentful and struggling to manage beneath them.
This week I forgot how much I loved being a work in progress. I stopped looking at it as a journey. I felt embarrassed that I had taken so many steps back. I felt ashamed that I felt ashamed. But most of all, I found myself struggling with something that I almost never feel…anger. Once I realized what it was, I was able to begin to handle the set back. It may have taken a couple weeks, but I was finally able to remind myself that I only felt that anger because I felt like something was threatening my progress. Perhaps slipping backwards was what I needed to remind myself how far I have come. I was reminded by that ‘roadblock’ that it better to fight in the light then remaining stagnant in the dark.
While in the midst of that realization, I thought of the following quote:
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin
This quote reminded me that the struggle I have felt most recently was not with my present life, this moment or the world around me. It was the struggle that I projected out of my past, from a fragile state of mind. It is important to remind myself that the fear and doubt I am experiencing in my life today is really just a shadow of the past me. She sees shame in the fragility of these moments. I have learnt to appreciate the beauty and the strength in continuing to try. I realise that allowing myself to find comfort in the darkness only encourages that familiar fear to grow. I had been feeling so uncomfortable and insecure; it was not until I read this quote that I realised the things that I have be fighting against were only becoming an issue again because I had lost my perspective, causing me to think that my past was no longer just my foundation or something that was behind me. I let myself struggle for two weeks in a world where I thought that my past had again become the walls around me.
I felt threatened because I felt as though I was allowing something to dismantle what I have been building here in New Zealand, my happy place. However, the challenge of the past couple of weeks and this next quote has given me the insight to appreciate that it is not just New Zealand that is my happy place. It is something that is within me. I am happy and I finally allowing myself to actually experience that emotion.
“Our destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
I feel so privileged and grateful to have this life. A large part of the happiness I have found came because I allowed myself to project what I felt and wanted in my world and my future. I am allowing myself the freedom to find and thrive in that happiness. Queenstown is absolutely beautiful, the people are kind and I truly feel at peace, but that does not mean the people and places of my past are something that I love or appreciate any less. In this place, in this moment, I can truly connect with that feeling of happiness. I feel I am able to support myself enough where I can build a stable world around it. I can appreciate that my perspective has changed only because I allowed it to change.
“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself.” – Unknown
I felt that I was able to regain my perspective the moment I found that trust and strength in myself again. I no longer feel I have to fear the ‘roadblocks’ I will encounter in the future. Letting go of that fear has helped me to find my way back to the state of mind where I am more then happy and even excited to still be a work in progress.
Sometimes the pain in our setbacks prevents us from remembering how far we have come since the last time we felt like this. This time, I started to find my way back when I reminded myself that I have been able to do it before. Each time I fall, I learn and my recovery time lessens. It is so important not to feel shame in these setbacks, find your strength in what you are able to learn. Know that it will help you if you ever find yourself feeling hurt or challenged in the future.