The past. We’ve all got one. All stumbled over its inevitable lumps and bumps, highways and by-ways leading to nowhere. It’s something we can’t get out of living without. It’s the thing that makes our lives what they are today.
It’s also the thing that can keep us from living our lives today for all we’re worth.
We can’t get rid of the past. Nor should we want to. What we can do is lighten its load and shorten its shadow on our life today by following these three simple ABC’s to living freely in what Joseph Campbell calls, ‘the rapture of now’.
A. Acknowledge the reality of what is. Acknowledge your patterns of behaviour that created your reality today.
B. Be accountable for your role in creating it. Be accountable for your responsibility in taking charge of it.
C. Commit to changing what you can, and have the courage to let go of the rest. Commit to doing whatever it takes to create more of what you want in your life today and let go of what doesn’t work anymore.
Now, I’m not saying it’s ‘easy-peasy’. But, as long as you are willing to be scrupulously honest with yourself, and the world around you, about what’s really going on in your life today that is limiting you from living the life of your dreams, the past will give up its haunting and you will be free to create beauty in your life today.
Take my relationship with the man who abused me. When I met him, I wanted desperately to believe he was Prince Charming. I wanted to be rescued. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t willing to admit any of that. In fact, I went out of my way to present myself as super self-sufficient and independent. A real with it and together woman; mother, daughter, sister, entrepreneur, friend and volunteer extraordinaire. You name it, I was into it and doing it as if I was the only one capable of making it happen.
Reality was, I had been faking my way through life for quite some time. Endlessly looking for someone ‘out there’ to love me. It was a pattern that with careful self-examination was pretty evident throughout my relationships with men. I had searched for my meaning in some man’s embrace. I had always looked for who I was in the adoring eyes of someone looking back to me.
Once I was able to acknowledge my pattern of looking for my meaning in some man’s arms, I could start working on loving myself – exactly the way I was. In the case of who I was at the end of that abusive relationship, I could love myself in all my broken down, beaten up and battered pain. I could love myself as a woman who had been lied to and cheated and manipulated and I could love myself as a woman who had lied and cheated and manipulated to keep the abuser in my life. I could love myself as a woman who had been abused. In loving myself as I was, I started the journey of turning up for me, in all my pain and sorrow, without fear of having to deny the truth of who I was at the end of that relationship.
In facing my reality of who I was at the end of that relationship, and the many things I had done to hurt the ones I love, I became accountable for my role in causing myself and them pain. By being 100% accountable for my lies, my deceit, and even my desertion of the two most important people in my life, my daughters, I gave myself the grace of being courageous. In acknowledging I was courageous enough to face the truth, I began to teach myself how to turn up for me, no matter the weather. And in turning up for myself, I began to love myself more and more each day.
As I turned up for me, without trying to deflect reality or disown my own accountability in what I had done to cause those I love pain, I was given a gift I never could have imagined – forgiveness. In acknowledging to my daughters that I had harmed them, that I had deserted them and caused them pain, we were able to face the truth, and heal from what was real, rather than trying to pretend that I had nothing to do with what had happened to me. Reality was, he did what he did. I did what I did. Didn’t matter to them that I was frightened and scared and abused. What mattered was, I left them. I lied to them. I deceived them. They couldn’t heal until I got real with what I had done.
To heal, I had to commit myself to living up to my higher good. Thinking about him, talking about what he’d done, fixating on his abuse was not creating more of what I wanted in my life. I had to let go of focusing on him. Let go of wondering about ‘why’ he did what he did and simply learn to accept, he did what he did because he could. Didn’t mean I was stupid. Didn’t mean I deserved his abuse, or was only worthy of his lies. It simply meant I’d been abused. I couldn’t change one iota of what had happened in the past and so, I had to quit judging myself against the measure of his abuse, and start holding myself accountable against the yardstick of my healing in the moment of now.
What do I want?
One of the most vital questions I asked myself was “What do I want more of in my life?” In the beginning of my healing journey, it was pretty easy to know what I didn’t want: I didn’t want pain. Abuse. Lies and deceit. I didn’t want him.
But what did I really want? After years of listening to him telling me what I wanted, needed, was, could have or be, it was a mighty task to uncover my own needs and desires. To get there, I had to dig deep into my psyche, had to block out the voices of self-derision and self-doubt and listen to my higher goodness calling. I wanted to feel good about myself. I wanted peace of mind. Serenity. Love. Forgiveness. I wanted to reclaim my relationship with my daughters. To help them heal and to heal myself. I wanted to reclaim my life, the good parts of it, the parts where I was a magnificent human being on the journey of her lifetime.
To do that, I had to be willing to let go of the things that held me back from being all I am meant to be. I had to let go of negative self-talk, of self-defeating games and holding myself in the victim’s role through blame and shame and guilt. I had been abused. I did not have to abuse myself through self-hatred. I needed to nurture myself back to wellness through loving myself for all I am worth.
In my commitment to always working towards my higher good, always choosing harmony over discord, tranquility over anger, my healing path became a joyous journey into self-love.
Today, my life is more than I ever could have imagined, even before the abuser rode in on his great white charger and swept me off my feet. Today, my feet are firmly planted in the reality of my life in freedom. That place where I am free to acknowledge my power without fear that I am not enough. I am enough. Exactly the way I am in this moment, living it up in the rapture of now, free to be all I ever imagined, all I ever want to be. Because today, the past does not determine who I am. I do. The past is simply the path I took to get to this place where I know, I’m worth loving. I am worthy.
The past is not the story of my life unfolding today. It is simply a story about a woman who had the courage to find herself in the darkness and illuminate her path into living in the lightness of being free.