Thursday, 10 March 2016

The box was an illusion

Growing up, we’re told who we are. Our parents seem to have all the answers of what is right and wrong, and their ideas about us can become our identity, and in cases of abuse, even our means of survival.

When we become adults, we have to decide for ourselves what we believe. We often assume that we must follow the same path we were taught, or at least pick a path and stick to it exclusively.

What I’ve come to realize is that each person is constantly learning and growing, and this means that beliefs change as new ideas are presented. Nobody believes exactly the same as another.

But for some, the concept of entertaining ideas with an open mind is scary.

For me, coming from a background of spiritual abuse, raised in the same homeschool cult as the Duggars, I tend to steer clear of religious ideas, because to me they represent pain.

For my parents, fear was the motivator for most things they taught us were evil or bad. These things included rock music, birth control, girls wearing pants, going to college, even playing with innocent toys that they burned.

But strangely enough, since I kissed religion goodbye, most of my own fears have disappeared. There are so many new things I’m excited to learn every day. New thoughts I am ready to explore. Now I know that the box I was put in was an illusion and I see possibilities I never dreamed existed.

What if we really did live life to the fullest? What if it didn’t matter what other people thought? What if what we were taught to believe isn’t really truth?

Freedom to create the life we choose is a reality, but most people live their entire lives with blinders on, believing that for one reason or another they must remain trapped in their own box.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my past doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. For years I was stuck living in the past, with the beliefs I was taught were the only option. I never thought I could go from Victim to Survivor.

Today have hope to thrive, not merely survive. Life is still full of ups and downs, and I’m sure that panic attacks, depression, and addictions will still be a struggle for me to deal with. But now I know that it’s okay if I don’t feel okay. I don’t beat myself up any more. I see life through new lenses.

There are helpful things that I'd never tried until recently, because I had been taught to believe they were bad. But despite what I’d been trained to think, I’ve learned many helpful coping skills from professional counseling, yoga, and meditation. They have enriched my new life and clarified my perspective. By realizing that nobody belongs to me, and everything comes and goes, I finally was able to make peace with the past and let it go.

Life and people are constantly changing and I’ve come to a place of acceptance of things as they are, without trying to change them. I simply remove myself from toxicity while feeling compassion for them and let others be the way they choose to be.

I’m learning to love myself, to be as gentle with myself as I am with an innocent child. I don’t have to do anything to be worthy, I just have to be. I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. What a revolutionary concept: Imperfection doesn’t make a person unworthy of love.

I used to think that if only I had my shit together, that life would be great. Now I know that it’s safe to think outside the box. It’s safe to feel uncertainty. It is safe to question things.

We will never have life all figured out and that’s okay, because mystery is part of the beauty of life’s adventure.