I asked myself a question today which ended up being very thought-provoking. ‘How much of my past have I allowed into my present and how much will I allow into my future?’
I decided to create a timeline of my life with all the significant experiences, emotions and lessons that have happened. I spent the entire afternoon thinking and creating my timeline with me at the point I’m at now, age 40 with, hopefully, at least another 40 years ahead of me. I wrote down all the negative experiences and all the positives and with them all written in an approximate age order I could clearly see that every time a negative experience happened, a positive experience was either taking place too or happened not too long after. When my parents were unkind to me, my Nan was always loving. When I suffered a loss, soon after I received healing. Overall, when I look at the bigger picture, instead of just snapshots of time, I can see my life has been fairly balanced. I, as is human nature, have chosen to focus on the negative aspects of my life, no doubt because pain is more powerful, at first, than pleasure. But what I see clearly now is balance and I see a lot of the difficult times have actually been my most powerful times of growth. Without the negatives, I wouldn’t have had the positives. Certainly, the positives wouldn’t have been so profound because the negatives taught me to really appreciate the better times.
Once I’d created my timeline I could clearly see that I had the power within me to really leave everything in my past where it belongs – behind me. My future is very clearly a blank canvas and I get to choose what goes on there. I can bring with me the baggage and the crap that I’ve accumulated over the last 40 years or I can pack it away and leave it where it belongs.
What I then decided to do was to create a second timeline. The past was exactly the same but the future, slightly different. I decided to choose what to take with me from the past into my future. Everything in front of me is what I want to walk into, what I want in my life. I get to choose. I can choose to leave behind the crap and walk ahead with only the good stuff or I can drag the whole lot along with me.
Of course, what I also realised by doing this exercise was that if life has balanced out for the last 40 years then it’s going to balance out for the next 40 so while I’m only choosing to take forward the positives lessons, I’m also accepting that there will be more difficult, negative experiences and emotions too because that is the human experience but what I also get to choose is how I then deal with that. Do I, as I have before, take it all on board and drag it around with me allowing it to weigh me down and affect my life negatively or do I use the difficult times as times of growth and transformation to create something positive? Realistically what I can do with each difficult emotion and experience is to learn to go into it and see what it has to teach me. I can sit with the feelings, with the pain and the discomfort and not run away from it or try and push it away through my usual tried and tested means ~ comfort eating, sex, sleep. I can accept the pain and the lessons each experience brings me and transmute them into something entirely different. I have that choice. I get to choose and having this knowledge is a wonderful thing.
This exercise has helped me see that I have the power within me for change and transformation. I have choices every minute of every day and so from now on I’m going to start choosing love and all that falls under love’s umbrella; kindness, empathy, understanding, patience, acceptance.
What the exercise also made me see was how much of a positive Tom has been in my life. I’ve spent so long feeling hurt, unloved, neglected and full of resentment towards Tom and yet now I can see that if it weren’t for all of the circumstances we went through together, I wouldn’t be who I am now. My relationship with Tom taught me things that nothing else had managed; self-love, self-worth, boundaries, acceptance, strength, respect, kindness and gratitude. Tom has been and continues to be my greatest teacher in life. It has been my hardest battle but it has given me the greatest rewards. Tom’s teaching has brought to my life a richness that was previously lacking and while it may have been a long hard battle for much of the time, mainly because I chose to view it that way, it has been my greatest accomplishment and the time in my life, to date, that has brought me closer to who I truly have the potential to become.