Don’t Drown in the Ripples

Sometimes the pain we inflict upon ourselves is worse than any other pain we face. I know so many people who grapple with self-loathing, who feel shame, guilt, despair and rage because they’ve made mistakes and don’t know how to make things right. An unforgiving internal dialogue is a painful and relentless prison, and sometimes it seems the key is somewhere far, far away.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we make huge ones, with lasting ripples that follow us way into our futures. The worse you feel about yourself, the harder it is to pull yourself out. You can drown in those ripples; people can drown in two inches of water. We all have pain, and some people have more than others; it is in no way a level playing field. Some people are more resilient than others, human beings are not robots, and life doesn’t follow a formula. Judgement about another person’s mistakes is nothing more than self-loathing turned outward. We never know what it is to walk in someone else’s shoes, and we don’t have the skinny on what other people need in order to learn and grow. Each of us has plenty of work to do keeping our own paths clean.

I know people who feel undeserving of love; unlovable. I want to be clear. There are people who don’t make it easy, who are cruel or cold or uncaring. Do you know what it takes to get a human being to that place? I’m not talking about personality disorders, that’s another topic. I’m talking about people who’ve given up on love, and have decided you can’t trust anyone, and no one cares, and life is brutal, and they will be, too. Usually the people who hurt us the most are the ones in the greatest pain. That doesn’t make it okay when you’re on the receiving end, but it helps to understand what’s motivating a person who has let you down, broken your heart, or left you without any sense of closure or understanding.

The people I’m talking about feel unworthy of love because they can’t forgive themselves. If you’re coming out of pain, if you’re filled with despair, you’re going to spread it, that’s just how it works. When we aren’t loving ourselves, we tend not to take good care. Sometimes the pain is so great, the desire to numb out and make it go away is intense. When we’re in a fog we don’t think clearly, we can’t see straight. Fog might be a relief for awhile, but eventually that’s a prison, too. Life isn’t meant to be endured in a haze, it’s meant to be lived with an open heart and mind. How else to see the beauty? To receive the love? To have your breath taken away? To be overcome with gratitude just for the experience of being alive? A fog robs you of that. A haze blurs those edges, too.

At a certain point you have to forgive yourself. It’s never too late to start again. We all do it, every day, every moment. The whole thing is shifting all the time, nothing stays the same. If you were in pain and you caused pain as a result, you do your best to make it right. That’s all you can do. You show up, the best you can and you say you’re sorry, but if you aren’t forgiven, eventually you have to forgive yourself. Otherwise it’s a vicious cycle of hating yourself and needing the haze to blur the awful feeling of hating yourself. That’s prison.

You’re a human being on planet earth. Whatever time you have ahead of you, make it count. Turn things around. Remember your kind and beautiful heart. Did you mean to hurt anyone? Were you just lost? Turn your attention to any and every gift you’ve got. Your health if you have it. People in your life who love you and believe in you. People you love beyond words. A place to sleep at night and food to eat. The sunrise, or sunset, or rain on your face. The way the wind moves the leaves of the trees. You are not the same you you were ten years ago, ten days ago, ten minutes ago, and neither is anyone else. Everything is in a constant state of flux, including you. Move toward beauty. Open to love. Forgive yourself, forgive yourself, forgive yourself. Then start again.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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