The Ghosts of My Past

10 Aug

Last night my husband and I attended an end of the summer party. I’m a very social person, and I love parties. I love talking to people and catching up, and this party was a perfect opportunity to do that with some people I hadn’t seen in a very long while. My husband on the other hand is not a big fan of parties. He’s the guy you always see sitting in the corner just taking it all in. Fortunately for him, there was a TV with sports on that he could watch and chat with the occasional person who sought out his company. I had no idea when I walked into the party that I was about to reinforce some life lessons and confront some of the” ugly” from my past.

When I was 16 years old one of my grandma’s told me to treasure this time because they would be the best years of my life. I remember thinking at the time, “You mean it gets worse than this?” You see, the teen years were not kind to me. I had acne and nothing seemed to help. I was a very curvy girl at a time when being willow thin was the ideal. I got good grades, but they never seem to be quite good enough, especially for my dad. I was a lover of literature and writing in a house that valued science and math. I also had a boyfriend who reminded me I wasn’t as skinny as I could be and a mom who told me my best “asset” physically was behind me.  That translated into, “I’m not smart enough.  I’m not thin enough.  I’m not good enough at anything.”  I tried really hard to be everything I was supposed to be, and it always felt like I came up short, but at least I had the support of my friends, or so I thought.

When I was a senior in high school, in addition to ordering our yearbooks, which didn’t come until the following fall, we were able to purchase something called a memory book that gave us the opportunity to write notes to one another before we graduated since we wouldn’t be seeing each other in the fall. Most of my friends purchased the book and we traded them in class to sign. At the end of Spanish class one day, someone passed a book back to me, which I assumed was mine, and I opened it up to see who signed it. Inside the front cover, I found a note. It was blank on the outside so again I assumed it was for me. What I read in that note changed my life forever. The note was not to me but about me. It called me names. It said I was fat and ugly and a bitch, and if that weren’t enough, the last part of the note talked about all the things “they” were going to do to me ending with shoving my mother up my a$$. I could not have been more shocked or devastated, especially when I looked at the names at the bottom of the note and saw at least a dozen signatures including my best friends in the world. I felt betrayed, and I felt like my world had fallen to pieces. I looked at the book and realized that it belonged to one of my two best friends, and as that happened, that friend walked up to my desk and saw that I was reading the note. She told me that I shouldn’t have read the note because it wasn’t addressed to me, and in that moment I knew our friendship would never be the same. I handed her book back, took mine from herand walked out of the classroom.

Another one of my best friends, who I always walked to class with, came running after me and asked me what was wrong because I didn’t wait for her. I was so angry and hurt, and I looked at her and said, “Like you don’t know.” She looked at me like I had lost my mind and said she had no idea what I was talking about. I said, “The note.” She asked what note I was talking about, and I told her the one she had signed about shoving my mother up my a$$. She said she didn’t know anything about it, and that she didn’t sign anything. She even went as far as making our other friend tell me that she knew nothing about the note. It was a small relief, but the damage was done.  I left high school feeling like I wasn’t good enough for my parents and not really knowing who my friends were. I felt like there was no one I could trust, and college didn’t help. My sophomore year I roomed with someone I had become very close friends with my freshman year. We talked about everything, and I really liked her. We even made plans for me to visit her over the summer, and that’s when things changed. The night I got to her house, she confessed to me that she had lied about huge portions of her life. I won’t go into details because you just never know who might be reading this, but again, the trust was gone. It was very difficult to live with her that year knowing she lied to me and the rest of our friends. What was worse was keeping her secret out of loyalty and having our college friends choose to be friends with her instead of me because I looked like the bad guy in our roommate relationship.

Because of those incidents and the way I was brought up, you could say I have a pretty big issue with lying and dishonesty, and it’s cost me dearly in the friend department. It’s been interesting too though because people know when they ask me a question they will get an honest answer. I remember being asked once that if I were in a difficult situation, would I tell a polite lie or the impolite truth. Without hesitation I will always choose to tell the impolite truth with as much tact and kindness as I can muster. What I’ve learned over the years is that people don’t always want to hear the truth, but in the end they always appreciate it.

Last night at the party a few friends I haven’t talked to in a while seemed to be avoiding me. I know I can be overly sensitive to those kinds of things because of my past, but I also am pretty good about listening to my intuition, and it just seemed to be that way. In decades past it would’ve bothered me for days. In decades past I would’ve wondered what was wrong with me because they avoided me. In decades past I would’ve felt a bubbling up of all the past pain and betrayal and added a little more to it, but something has changed or rather someone has changed and that someone is me.

It’s taken me a while to get here, but I like who I am. It’s taken me years of listening to positive input, reading positive books and talking through difficult situations with the very few people I do trust to feel as good about myself as I do. I finally realized that the way others act says much more about them than it does about me. I’ve realized that only wounded souls are cruel, and those who lie, generally, are looking to make themselves or their lives appear better than they are. Were some of the people at the party avoiding me last night? Maybe. Does that have anything to do with the kind of person I am? Maybe.  The bigger picture has nothing to do with any of that. The bigger picture is that I forgive everyone in my past for whatever I think they may have done to me. Sometimes I forgive them over and over again because just when I think I’ve put it all behind me, something else sneaks up and I realize I have a little more forgiving to do. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart the forgiving people sets you free. No matter how horrible the trauma, forgiveness allows you to heal. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone the acts that you are forgiving. It just means that you’re ready to let go of the negative emotions that hold you back from becoming your best self and nothing is more beautiful than that.

I’ve recently started to light a candle every morning and say a prayer of forgiveness. I would like to share it with you in the hope that if you have someone to forgive that it can help you too. The prayer goes like this:

From this moment on, I forgive everyone including myself for everything we failed to know or do in the past. I release us all to our highest joy and purpose in life with love and appreciation for lessons learned.

Combining forgiveness with gratitude is really the key to it all. In all of the past situations I originally perceived as negative, I’ve found things to be hugely grateful for. The biggest is that each situation has illustrated very clearly to me the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person that I don’t. I may not be as well liked by others because I always speak my truth, but I like myself better and that’s what matters. I may not have as many friends because I won’t perpetuate a lie, but I live with a clear conscience and a lighter heart because of it. I am learning not to expect others to choose the path I’ve chosen, and I’m also learning not to judge those who have chosen to live differently than I do, but that big subject is a conversation for a different day. For me, today is about releasing on a deeper level the ghosts of high school and college. It’s about blessing those girls for helping me become the person I am today. It’s about being grateful that after I got over the shock and anger of what happened, that I became a better person because of it. It’s about taking the “ugly” of your past and making something incredibly beautiful out of it and being grateful for the opportunity to do that. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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