Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Something's in the air

The other day while I was out walking, I saw a sign in a store window that said Don't be afraid to get to know yourself and then a bumper sticker that said Don't put off joy. These two ideas stuck with me all the way home and onto the pages of my journal. That was the day I wrote the "Autobiography" piece. The further I went with it, the more I started remembering things I didn't want to.

There are things I used to not think about and lately, they're all I think about, so much so that I've started keeping a list. Anytime something comes to me that I thought I'd forgotten, I add it to the list. So far, it's been interesting, a little painful, a little embarrassing. There are many things on the list that I've never even spoken aloud and writing about them is a little frightening. I've carried around all of these memories, good and bad, for years but I've never really confronted them in any way. Mostly, I've just pretended that they happened to someone else but the truth is, they are all me, even the ugly ones.

I think, why are you doing this, what's the point in dredging up all this stuff anyway? I don't really know the answer to that. It doesn't really matter to anyone but me, it doesn't really hurt anyone but me. I've come so far away from that life that I don't even recognize it anymore.

Then I read over the list and think, this is who you are, for better or worse. There's no escaping that. So, here's the truth: I grew up poor, on a dairy farm, in a house full of people who couldn't be described as anything other than countrified. I went to school with kids who didn't know what poor was but knew enough to know that I was not one of them. I watched my mother move from man to man, using her body as currency. I saw my father once or twice a year, and learned that a child's favor can be bought but never their love. I grew up in a house where bitterness and disappointment were learned early and where no one expected life to give them anything better than what they had.

And now I'm here, trying to figure it all out. Trying to get to know myself and trying not to be afraid. I'm still working on the joy part though, so cross your fingers.


Anonymous Lelia Katherine Thomas said...

I believe it's important to embrace your past--all the good, bad and ugly that's in it--so you can march on to your future. You cannot change the past. That's something everyone knows, but something that most people never realize is that if you don't let go of the past, your future will never be any better. Part of letting go of something is accepting the fact that things have happened, whether it was right for them to or not, and then realizing that that doesn't have to dictate the rest of your life in any way at all. Some people call it forgiveness, others acceptance.

If you had a daughter, I know you would not choose the same life for her that your parents apparently, unwittingly chose for you. You would work hard to make it different for her. If you would do that for another human being, be your own parent of sorts and do it for yourself, too. Live a separate life. We are not the same as our parents. We may have predispositions for certain problems or addictions, but it ultimately comes down to choice. The right to make decisions in your life, even if only once you've grown up, is so powerful, and yet, it doesn't have to be perfect.

I cannot say I've been through the same things you have been through, because I haven't, but I have been through some rough times, and I attend therapy because of them, which has really helped me. I was skeptical at first, but it's helped me more than I could have imagined. Just these past two weeks, my therapist loaned me a book of hers, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. She had an older edition from the 80s, so the newer ones might have even more helpful information, but this book has helped me personally let go of a lot, so you might look into it. It has a section on positive thinking, too, that I believe you might find useful. A plus to it is that it's reasonable advice, not far-fetched stuff that you sometimes hear.

Remember life is a journey; there's no totally right or wrong way to do it. But, whether it's frightening or not, you're in the driver's seat of it all now, and you can choose to drive as crazy as some of the people in your past or you can choose a smoother, paved road. I hope you and anyone else who has been through something similar will always choose to be better than what they came from, to realize they are their own person, and that that's a wonderful thing. :)

If ever you need someone to talk to, feel free to drop me a line.

5/09/2006 6:20 PM  

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