I have written about the grief that has left me scarred. Facing your trauma can be excruciating. It feels as if the pain is coursing through your entire body, spilling out in tears that steal your breath and crush your chest. It can linger, leaving you feeling lifeless, as if your spirit has been stolen.
Writing has allowed me to feel lighter. As I pour my pain onto pages, the past is released from captivity and is no longer suffocating my mind. It doesn’t mean my past has vanished or the triggers are deceased. Triggers don’t die completely; they are ghosts that visit unexpectedly. Yet the more you face and work through your pain, the less frequent the ghosts visit. The pain becomes more subtle, like the sprinkle of rain rather than a downpour that leaves you soaked and cold to the bone.
What I haven’t written about are my choices that wounded others, including my loved ones. Some of the people I have hurt the most are also the people I love the most in this world. Facing trauma is hard, but what’s even harder is admitting to the world that you weren’t always a good person and that your actions resulted in someone else’s suffering. Even though I haven’t publicly owned my mistakes (until now), it doesn’t mean they haven’t tormented me. For years, I have been buried in guilt. It lives in my mind, frequently appearing in nightmares, reminding me that I wasn’t always an honest person. Every time I look at old photographs of myself, remembering who I used to be, I feel the hatred burn inside. Thoughts fire in my brain: You’re heartless. You’re disgusting. You deserved everything bad that happened to you.
I have been lied to, deceived, manipulated, taken advantage of, betrayed, and cheated.
This is me admitting that I have also been a liar and a cheater. I have deceived, manipulated, taken advantage of, and betrayed others. I have been carelessly selfish. I have loved people and yet still made choices that would devastate them. The situations I was a part of led to the breaking of relationships and altered the course of people’s lives.
The thing about the pain we’ve experienced and the pain we’ve caused is most of the time, there is not one person who is completely responsible. There is always some responsibility we must take for ourselves, because there are times when we ignore our gut or deny our true feelings because we are chasing a subconscious story or fabricated dream in our head. As much as we want it to be the fault of one person, it rarely is. There are always intertwining factors. There may be one person who was the biggest perpetrator, but if we let that person hold the door to our freedom, then there will always be loose ends. Loose ends from apologies that aren’t sincere or weren’t ever received and behavior that hasn’t changed. In the end, we have to take responsibility for the pieces we can, remember that our choices were influenced by other elements, and learn from our experiences.
It doesn’t change that I did make choices that were heartless and disgusting, and in some ways I did deserve the aftermath of it all. If it wasn’t for the aftermath, though, I may have never become who I am today. Making those choices doesn’t make me heartless or disgusting as a whole. Truthfully, if I hadn’t made them and felt the consequences, I wouldn’t have learned that wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
The person I was is not the person I am today. In fact, I haven’t been that person for years. I am honest and empathetic. I do everything in my power not to hurt others without sacrificing myself. It’s time to stop carrying the guilt of who I’ve been on the shoulders of who I am now. The previous version of me no longer exists.
Wholeheartedly, I wish that my choices hadn’t caused affliction for the people I love. That being said, as much as I want to, I can’t heal anyone else’s wounds. In healing my own, I can love devotedly and hurt less. I can’t change my mistakes, but this is me owning them. This is me owning that I have gained the strength to not make them again.