Living Out Loud

Learning to unpack


“Everyone you meet comes with baggage, find someone who cares enough to help you unpack.” ― Ziad K. Abdelnour

I was talking to a very good friend who was discussing her feelings over something that happened years ago but when she spoke, you would think it just happened last week. She was torturing herself with things that simply can’t be fixed – well, not unless she can invent a time travel machine.

The older we are, the smarter we get, right? We paid the price for the knowledge. I suppose “life lessons” are called that for a reason. You need to experience life in order to learn the lessons. We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we’ve tried. If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. “I can’t” isn’t a reason to give up, it’s a reason to try harder.

I shared with her a part of my past where I felt trapped and couldn’t see beyond my problem because I kept looking back, worrying of repeating or trying to contain my shame about my circumstances. I looked back so often, I told her that I missed out on the present. The most important part about dealing with regrets of the past is finding a way to forgive yourself first.

Forgiveness is a process and it will not happen overnight. At some point, you have to accept that the past has happened and you’ve done everything in your power to amend past mistakes and like the Bob Seger song “Turn the Page,” turn it and close that chapter.

In every moment, you have that choice — to continue to feel bad about another person’s actions, or to start feeling good. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness, and not put such power into the hands of another person. Why would you let the person who hurt you in the past, have such power, right here, right now?

Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness and forgiving has allowed me to move forward in my life and welcome back joy into it. I couldn’t do that fully until I let this hurt go.

When I choose not to forgive, I felt stuck, ugly and unable to move past my hurt. I allowed the chain of my past and the person who harmed me from moving forward.

Forgiveness does not mean you erase the past, or forget what has happened. It doesn’t even mean the other person will change— you cannot control that. All it means is that you are letting go of the anger and pain, and moving on to a better place.

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”- Carl Gustav Jung