rAs I mentioned earlier today, I’ve been doing a lot of self reflecting lately. Instead of looking ahead, to my future, I’ve been stuck in the past.
The flood of memories brought with it a flood of shame. A book I recently finished for book club included a character who was in an abusive marriage. Incidents that started out small, escalated throughout the years, until she found herself in danger and her friends rescued her. It has taken me about 7 years to say, I was in an unhealthy marriage. In truth, an abusive marriage. And for years, I’ve been weighed down by shame. For what? I don’t know. But it’s been there. And it’s been heavy. The abusive phrases that I heard on a daily basis “you’re unlovable,” “no one will want you,” “you have nothing to offer to anyone,” and “you’ll never be good enough” are phrases that after hearing so often, I had come to believe. Even as I healed from the hurt on the inside, those words kept their hold on me, pulling me back. Shame has kept me from moving forward.
I feel as though I was robbed of being who I was. Scared to speak for myself, because saying the wrong thing would hold consequences I didn’t want to face. Controlled to the point where I was discouraged from owning anything pink. Kept from enjoying outings with my friends because I was not going to be one of those girls, who like (gasp!) girly things! Jealousy for what my friends had, material possessions, oozed from ex-husband. Nearly every weekend a nasty fight followed a night of heavy drinking. During those times, I never feared for myself. Instead, I feared he would take his own life. I would gather all the knives, bullets, and his hunting guns and lock myself and our Bernese Mountain Dog, Kiska, in the bedroom with the “weapons” so he couldn’t harm himself. I never once thought about the harm he could have done to me with those weapons. It’s scary now. I was so blind. I don’t know what made that realization hit me, but for whatever reason, it has hit me very recently. I’m so lucky. I can’t look back any longer. Looking back can be paralyzing to think of the “what if”s.” Looking back will only keep me weighed me down with shame.
It has been only recently that I have come to realize that I no longer need to carry that shame. And I feel almost like a bird let out of a cage, I feel so free, so light, so happy! I’ve noticed myself breaking into a smile and actually feeling that smile, the warmth, the joy. And it hit me, it’s been years since I’ve felt that! I didn’t realize how much I’ve been holding back until I felt that light creep up inside of up. I can be happy because no one can ever take that away from me. I’ve grown into my own person. I know who I am. I know what I stand for. And I’m not ashamed of who I am. Not any more.
Running is like a metaphor for where I’m finding myself. In order to run a good race, you can’t look behind. Runners who have lost races by mere seconds, have made the mistake of looking back, checking to see where their opponents are. In the end, looking back cost them. Instead, if you keep looking forward and work on moving ahead, you’ll win, momentum carries you forward.