As we approach the end of another year, it's difficult to avoid reflecting on the past twelve months. It can be even harder at the close 2009, as the arguments rage as to whether it is the end of a decade, and you can be forced to cast your mind back even further. It can be tempting to disseminate the entirety of that decade, your failings, your fears, what you haven't learnt. You cogitate on how you will change yourself, what you could do differently, what or who you need to be before you can start being you.
You may pepper your reflections with resolutions. You may have decided to reinvent yourself, become a radical version of yourself. You may think it's necessary to become a completely different person to please another person, or change who you are to please yourself.
Often we forget that by binding ourselves up to our past misdemeanors, linking ourselves indelibly to our mistakes, the only think we satisfy is our own guilt. We feed the vision of the bad person that we are convinced we are, we destroy our self esteem further. We do not allow ourselves to grow into who we are meant to be. The unhappiness that we have caused another feels like it can never be unburdened from our conscience, regardless of how little that slight may have been.
Sometimes we chose to reside here. The idea of moving forward is too terrifying to entertain. Safer then, to stay with our misery. Safer to invert narcissism so as we allow all that is bad to be blamed on our self. Safer to not take risks. Safer to believe that we are the only ones that make mistakes, that our decisions are not sound, that our feelings are not valid. Why on earth would we ever conceive that we deserve happiness, that we deserve to forgive ourselves when we have clearly committed so many wrongs?
Perhaps, instead of focusing on the close of a year, of a decade, we should see it as a chance to move on. The new year, the new decade should herald to us that it is time to forgive ourselves. To move forward. To accept that we have every right to be happy, and as much right to be here as any other human being. We deserve to be loved and adored, to be respected. We deserve the best from life.
If we chose to revisit the past, there must be an insistence that we draw a line and leave the past where it is. The only way to travel is forward. We can dreg through our history, poke at it with sticks until our hearts can no longer bear the pain we inflict on ourself. Or we could, quite simply, see that as a different life. As Hartley
said, "the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."
We can apply this to anything and everything in our life; to our reactions in times of depression and to the events that can trigger that depression; to our relationships; to the way we interact and deal with others. And really, in the end, the only way to live is as freely as you can.
There isn't a person amongst us who hasn't made a mistake, who hasn't hurt another person. I have made more than my share of mistakes, caused more than my share of hurt, and to all those that I have caused knowing pain to; I am sorry. So sorry. Much of it was through fear, fear of my own feelings, of my many failings, and fear of moving forward. And now it is time for me to try to leave that behind, and let myself become who I am.
For the past, I can only apologize. The only thing I can do is to build from here, from the now, and into the future. This is all any of us can do.
We all of us deserve to be happy. Deserve to live a life that is only bereft of the bullshit and the pretence.
Almost a hundred years ago, Ehrman wrote "With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy
Try to remember this. Happy New Year. Happy new you.