Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Depths of My Mind

I learned something today. Want to know what it was? If you’re still reading, I assume you do, so thanks for joining me. šŸ™‚ I learned today that I am not crazy, and that’s just as I thought. Today I took a Trauma/Brain class, and in the class we were discussing the effects of Trauma on the brain. We talked about how trauma can be chronic and something that can change the very nature of our DNA, as well as how we think. As we delved into the topic, I began to remember things that happened to me as a child, and I began to understand the reasons behind some of my actions since childhood. The trainer asked us to give examples we could think of regarding some of the effects of trauma, and as people in the class gave their guesses on what the effects could be, I remembered vividly my lived experiences.

I remembered being separated from my mother and being put in foster care. I remembered, even before that, before I was taken away from my mother–the environments in which we lived and in which my brothers and I developed. I even went back and thought about the big, black snake that caused me so much fear as a young child. Most vividly though, in the discussion of how certain experiences change our DNA and how we think, I remembered the molestation. I thought back to the first time my brother’s friend got a little too friendly, then to another time when a friend of the family tried to show their “love” for me, but it would not go as they planned, and then to another time when my supposed “cousin” at one of my foster homes tried to make me feel good…and while I longed for love and attention, some part of me just knew that none of this was right. But, it all came from somewhere. There were others, but those experiences specifically gave me a distinct distrust for men, and even for anyone who claimed to love me. In the depths of my mind, I began to think that no one could just love me without first wanting something from me. I even thought that maybe if I let people “love me” the way they wanted to, I would feel something other than empty. My experiences changed my life, and they made me weary, but they also left me vulnerable.

So vulnerable, in fact, that I made many mistakes as an adult because I really just wanted to be loved, and when I did not feel loved, I took whatever I could get. I hurt others because my voids were so deep that it did not allow me to understand how others could feel. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel something besides empty, but the emptiness grew.

Many years have passed since the molestation and since the moments that stole my childhood, but the trauma was still there. I have noticed through the years that I have reacted a certain way to people and situations, and I have seen things a certain way because of my past. Ideally, I could snap my finger and change the circumstances of my childhood, but that is not realistic; however, I have learned to be intentional about changing my mind in specific moments. Now that I have matured, I have come to understand that my life has purpose, and every experience has built me into the woman I am today. I am perfectly imperfect, and my experiences have grown me in a way that I may not have if I had not gone through what I did.

Sometimes things happen that we do not understand, and many times we act without delving into the reasons why we respond to others and situations. Traumatic situations change us, and they scar our hearts/minds. We have to remember, though, that we are not our pasts. We are more than what happened to us. We are no longer that person who was powerless. We are valuable and loved. We deserve love, and we deserve it in the right way. Acknowledge your past and the effects it has had on your present, and work to change your behaviors as you can, but also give yourself some slack when things trigger a memory. There is more. YOU are more.


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Facing the Ghosts

I did it. I faced my ghosts. “Ghosts?” , you may be asking. Yes, ghosts. Those memories that had been haunting me. No, the memories were not all bad, but the effect of them all together has been bad. Really bad. Today, I went back to a place that I have not dared visit in years. I sat outside the building, and I actually allowed the memories to flow. Good. Bad. Ugly. It all flowed. As tears streamed down my face, I remembered every word spoken in that place. I thought about all of the laughs, the jokes, and the time spent. I remember when that place was a safe haven, but then I remembered, vividly, the night I ran away from there. Yet, here I was years ago facing it once again. As I sat there, I remembered the night that cost me some things I held dear. I paid the price in people who walked away, but more so with my peace, my love, and my belief in myself. I paid the price for a long time, in the end exacting a price on my own head when the debt had already been paid. But today, I decided that enough is really enough. So, I went back to that place where I lost so much of me, and I chose to get it all back. In that place, after the memories flew through my mind, and the tears slowed down, I began to reclaim what I lost. Not only that, but I decided I wanted all of that plus interest. In addition to my joy, my peace, my love, and my belief in myself, I claimed victory over what I allowed to happen to me. The sole prisoner in a jail of my own making, I chose to break free. So, as I sat in front of that building, still rocked by the memories, I took one final breath. I took one last look. I cherished the happy memories that the place held for me. Then I put my hands on the steering wheel, and drove away. As I drove away, I put all of those memories and all the experiences in my mind, and then I let them float away. It was finally time to let go.Ā No looking back this time.

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Holding On is Not Letting Go

We all have some things we need to let go. Maybe the thoughts of things we have done wrong weigh heavy on us, or maybe there is a certain someone who we know we need to move on from, but it seems to be too much to really let go. After all, letting go in our mind sometimes means that we then have to forget. We do not always want to forget past experiences and people. We want to move on, but not forget. Sometimes that is ok. The problem comes in when we say that we have let that or them go, but we are still holding on. What happens when old thoughts and people stop us from experiencing theĀ fullnessĀ of our life in the present–even when we claim to have moved on. I will admit that I have been one who has struggled with letting go of some things. I justified not letting go because I said that I needed to remember everything so that I did not go back. I placed myself in a cycle, because not letting go made me face the very things I did not want to go back and face–all because I did not want to forget. Today, I had a mini conversation with someone, and as we spoke, I realized what I needed to do. Although letting go is hard, it is often necessary. Sometimes when you let go, things come back to you. Sometimes they do not. Letting go means that you can not hold on anymore, regardless of how you feel. I had to come to that hard realization. While I may never fully forget the memories, and while sometimes I may see something or someone who reminds me of things from the past, I have to be determined enough to keep going forward. If I hold on, that is not letting go. This is a hard lesson to learn because, I will admit, I like to be in control. I would be perfectly alright if I could decide when things would happen the way I would like them to, and if I could orchestrate every facet of my life with no consequences. However, that is not how life plays out. There are unexpected twists, climatic moments,Ā roller coasterĀ rides with severe drops, and none of it can be anticipated. When we learn to let go, we open up our lives for more, and we begin to understand that letting go does not mean the memories have to go away (unless we want them to fade). We can sift out the great memories, and the best things about the things/people we have to let go, and we can live knowing that we are forever enriched because of what was. If what we let go is meant to come back, it will, but if not life does go on. If we look back over the years at things we have released even when it was tough, we will realize that we continued to live, even after that. So if you are holding on to something, know that holding on only keeps you held back. Let it go. You will be better because of it. Move forward.