The past few years have been filled with pain and disappointment, with anger and betrayal. It has been a long, hard, sometimes excruciating time in my life.
There were many times that I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away. There were many more times that I wanted to run and hide, to escape it all.
I didn't because I knew it wouldn't help. It wouldn't make things better. It might be easier in the short term, but the end result wouldn't be what I wanted.
I didn't want any of this, but at some point that stopped mattering. I still had to deal with it. I wasn't here by my own volition. I wasn't here by my doing. It wasn't fair, but it was what it was.
I stuck it out. My resolute stubbornness made me, even when everything else in my being told me to stop. I had to exhaust all options before I could, in good conscience, go.
Exhausted, I've done, but for a reason.
One of the most important things I ever learned from a book was the stages of grief, penned by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. While I used to just associate grief with death, and these stages were originally drafted with that in mind, they apply any time we lose something. There are losses in life greater than death. I can say that with certainty now, after losing my father, then losing even more a few months later in a situation where no one died, but something else altogether did.
I've been grieving. I've been grieving for a long, long time...and grief is a real bastard.
The first stage is usually denial, though circumstances outside my control required me to skip this stage entirely. There was no possible way I could entertain thoughts of delusion, not when it was all thrust in my face the way it was. For a while, I actually wished for this stage. I longed for the times when I was oblivious and unaware. I wished that I could have convinced myself that what happened had not, and yet I knew that would be nothing more than an exercise in futility, one that could hurt me more, at that. And so, it was essentially skipped.
I know this one far too well. I've held on to anger for a long time, and rightfully so. Anger is an important emotion, a necessary part of grief, and there are times that it can hold you up when nothing else will. Anger is powerful stuff, lifesaving stuff, but it can eat away at your soul if it lingers too long. I wasn't just angry at those who hurt me, I was angry at myself for a long time. If it sits with you for too long, it can turn you bitter. I didn't want to be that person. I don't want to be that person, so I make a conscious effort to push away the anger. Sometimes it still percolates no matter what I do, it trickles down, it comes screaming out, concentrated and dark. I'm still working on banishing this one, and I have a feeling it will get a lot worse before it gets better in therapy.
The if onlys. The what ifs. The I will willingly forgo this in exchange for that. The negotiation. The teasing out what you think you want, what you're willing to do for it or give up in exchange, can lead you down some very dark paths. I've questioned, without a doubt, every.single.thing.in.my.life this way because of what happened. All of it. This was a dangerous stage for someone like me, with obsessive tendencies and an overly analytical mind. The trouble with bargaining is that it's not far from denial, because it's not at all based in reality. Yet it was an important part of the process. I want to believe I am done with this entirely and will never have to deal with it again, at least for this reason.
Yes. This. When everything else falls away, and you're left with the reality that is exposed, it gets easier and easier to dig that hole deeper and deeper. This is where the negative self talk comes in, where the blame comes back on you, where you start to doubt that things will ever get better, where you start to believe that it never possibly could. This is where the insomnia starts to do battle with exhaustion and the cycle repeats until you are so worn out that even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable. I ping ponged back and forth between anger and depression for the better part of the last two years, at times drug so far down that I literally had to force myself to go out into the world. I hid it with humor, because that's what I do, joking about my yeti-like elusiveness, but a few who knew what was going on saw through it. I need to thank those people more often, and for coming over when I wouldn't go out.
It is this stop, the final destination, that I think I've finally reached on this journey. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I don't want to do this anymore. My body is weaker, my soul needs patched. I need to do that.I need to take care of me. At some point, I realized that this was never mine to begin with. These things that happened, though they affected me, weren't of my doing. It wasn't me that led me here, I can't fix why I'm here, and I can't change anything in the past. I was drug here against my will, but I don't have to stay here anymore. I don't have to like what happened, I don't have to be happy about it, but I do have to accept it. I have to accept that I cannot change the past, that I cannot change the actions of others. I have to accept the pain that was thrust upon me, and move on. I have to stop living in the past. I have to stop letting my life be ruled by anger and depression. This isn't mine, it never was, so I have to let it go.
And so I am. I'm letting this go. I'm giving it back.
To move forward, I need to let this go.
I'm saying these words today to the one who needs to hear them, and I mean them because I need to say them.
I forgive you.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and realize the prisoner was you. ~ Lewis B. Smedes
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