“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
What Lies Behind Us
When we went to Field Day of the Past, it was fun to see all the “old” stuff. Those things and that technology is what got us where we are today. Without the past invention successes and failures, we wouldn’t have computers, space crafts or any of the other thousands of nifty inventions we enjoy.
Looking back on some of the inventions that failed doesn’t make us sad or angry. So why is it that when we look into our personal past, we don’t have the same celebratory emotion for the unpleasant happenings in our life? Well, that is the question I have been batting around in my head lately.
The closer you are to me and the more I love you, the harder it is to forgive you. This trait of my personality was definitely evident in my relationship with my dad. After he abandoned us, I went through a cycle of hurt, anger and confusion that continued for decades. Of course, the fact that he wasn’t in my life made it both harder and easier to forgive him.
By the time Dad had finally decided to come back into my life, I had already taken all the steps necessary to forgive him. It is much harder to forgive someone that never asks for forgiveness, but it can be done. So when Dad actually apologized for leaving, not being a part of my life and then asked for forgiveness, it was like an added bonus. I had already forgiven him, but having him take responsibility for his actions started the healing process of a hole that was scarred over in my heart.
Over the next seven years, Dad was constantly in my life with visits and daily phone calls. Although I didn’t need him to do it, Dad would apologize several times a year because he felt the need and it made him feel better. I actually understand how it feels to be on his side of the forgiveness issue, so I would accept the apology and tell him that I loved him, then we moved on until he felt the need to do it again.
The things that lie behind you DO have an effect on your present and future, but it is up to you to decide if the past experiences are going to strengthen or destroy you.
I can’t say that the sad experiences in my past when Dad decided to be absent from my life makes me feel happy, but they no longer make me depressingly sad or angry either. Instead, it gave me a different perspective, understanding and compassion for others who have lived in similar situations of parental abandonment. It also allowed me the opportunity to know what it feels like to TOTALLY forgive someone and to see the relief when someone feels forgiven.
What Lies Before Us
I am and have always been a worrier. Unfortunately, everything is worry worthy. Because I’m a bit on the the obsessive side and I’m a worrier, I tend to over plan. By the time I was sixteen years old, I had already planned my entire life all the way to the grave. Now you pity my mother for having to be my mother, don’t you? LOL
Mom would often tell me that worrying didn’t help anything and only made me sick. Then she would point out all the times that the things I was worried about never happened. I would tell her that the reason those things didn’t happen was because I worried about them enough that I caused them not to happen. Go ahead and roll your eyes at me. It was silly thinking. I now know how ridiculous that line of thinking is and I don’t believe it anymore.
I could not and cannot control my future any more than you can control your future. Things you do CAN AFFECT your future, but you can’t COMPLETELY CONTROL what happens in your future.
Setting goals, working toward those goals, having hope for a happy life and accepting that there will be unhappy experiences in the life experience is simply the cycle of life. Being shocked or angry that unhappiness is part of your life seems like a waste of emotion and energy. Easy to say all those logical thoughts, but emotions do play a part in the human experience, however, being consumed with worry for the future is truly needless. Worrying will not allow you to control the future any more than eating ice cream will stop an earthquake.
What Lies Within Us
Apples are not oranges. Potatoes are not green beans. Cows are not ducks. You are not like anyone else. Although that is true, on the flip side, you are like everyone else. Does that confuse you?
We are all humans which means there are attributes that we all share. As alike as we may be, many things affect us and cause us to be different than everyone else. What lies behind us and what lies before us affects what lies within us.
What is within us?
I don’t know what lies within you, but I know what lies within me because I’ve taken the time to delve into my soul and have been very honest with myself. One aspect about myself that I’m not very fond of is my history of being an enabler.
Four months ago my enabling reached the pinnacle. I was at a crossroad with three decisions looming in my face and for my own well being I could not ignore them any longer. I didn’t want to make a decision. I DID NOT WANT TO MAKE A DECISION.
I begged God.
I fought with myself.
I stayed awake too many hours in a row.
I slept too many hours in a row.
I took long drives.
I ignored phone calls.
I didn’t read my mail.
I was truly struggling.
All at once, the answers to all three of my decisions became very clear. I hated all the answers because the basis of each was the same thing…I was enabling to the extreme and it was hurting me. Not only was it hurting me then, it had hurt me in the past and would continue to hurt me in the future if I didn’t end the behavior. My enabling had reached a point where it had destroyed my peace and was eating away at my self-worth. Sounds sick doesn’t it?
Enabling is sick.
Enabling doesn’t help anyone and hurts the enabler even worse.
I took the lessons from the past, thought about my dreams for the future and vowed to change my present enabling. Overlooking faults, helping and being of service is fine, but not to the point where they all lead to one thing…the good deeds and relationship are taken for granted and not really valued.
The enabling ended and it made people angry…very angry.
My intention was never to make anyone angry. I changed my behavior because I wasn’t being valued and others freely took whenever and however they pleased without giving back to the relationship. That’s really so one sided that you can’t hardly call it a relationship. It was really me hanging onto to people, begging them to love me back as they continued to either use, neglect or ignore me. You know, that’s still really hard to admit. It is sad that I wanted to be loved so badly that I was willing to let myself be completely taken for granted.
I stopped the enabling.
I did not back down from my decision. My relationships are either going to be give and take by both people involved or I’m not going to be involved in the relationship at all. It can’t be me giving and trying to strengthen the relationship while the other person uses, neglects or ignores the relationship. It HAS to be give and take. Period.
At first I cried a lot because I felt such a loss. Then I had to think about what I was really losing. I was missing having people hurt my feelings, not want to spend time with me, and not love (in the truest meaning of the word) me back. Uh, that’s not much of a loss now is it?
It’s been four months since then and I have progressed nicely. Actually, I’m okay now. I do not enable. I definitely know the difference between enabling and service. Being the best that I can be is all I expect of myself and all anyone else can expect of me. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone. My best is just that…MY best and my best is good enough.
What I didn’t know then, I know now. I am working on forgiving those three people now. I’m sure that one will never talk to me again. The second person has asked forgiveness and stopped the behavior. The third person is a work in progress and doing the best they can to make the relationship mutually beneficial.
The past can’t be changed. The future isn’t here yet. All we’ve got is right now. So I’ll keep the past in the past, do my best right now, and make plans for a great future. Sounds great.
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”