First of all I’d like to thank you, Jason, for inviting me to guest post on your blog. It’s an honor to get an invitation because it means you consider me worthy enough to be included with your stories.
I’ve read through your site and have been contemplating on which story to tell from what part of my life. There are so many and yet, I hesitate to share them because although I learned and grew with each challenge, I prefer not to bring many of the stories into the light. I’ve grown beyond them, to the point that I am thankful, for they’ve made me who I am today.
Strong and independent.
I came to this realization in my early twenties. I was a kind, caring, compassionate human being because of the challenges in my life. I was a trustworthy friend and partner because I had never had anyone who I could trust. The way I had processed my challenges had forged me into a better human being, but my heart was still heavy. I was still carrying around fear, anger and guilt. Guilt is a required emotion, it’s meant to make us think twice about stealing the last cookie from the jar, or not sharing our lottery winnings with co-ticket holders. Unfortunately, it is also a harmful emotion, especially when the guilt has been taught as a form of control.
At the time of my realization, everything was good in my life. I had met and was living with the man I would marry. I’d graduated from college and was working as a counsellor, assisting deaf adults with multiple disabilities, learn the necessary life skills for independent living. And yet, the negative emotions continued to eat me from the inside out.
I decided that in order to attempt to rid my guilt, I would list every inappropriate and mean thing I had done in which my behavior hurt another. Fortunately, the list wasn’t too long! I then set about making my apologies to these people. Some I couldn’t find, like the very heavy boy who had a crush on me in sixth grade. When he asked me to “go out,” I wasn’t able to hurt his feelings and tell him no, so I asked for his phone number instead. He was new to the school and couldn’t remember it. I jokingly responded, “I thought elephants never forgot!” He didn’t tell me I’d hurt him, but it hurt me the minute it left my lips. I was too embarrassed to apologize then and there. One person didn’t call me back, probably because he had moved on and didn’t need to speak with me. Everyone else I spoke to. The process was more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced, there are some things that you never want to speak of again. Stupid things, innocent things, horrible things.
After calling or seeing every one I felt I had hurt, I took stock. I felt a little better. Asking for forgiveness opened the door to allow me to forgive those who had hurt me. I have not forgotten, but I have forgiven. More of the weight lifted.
I then did the most difficult thing of all. I forgave myself. I felt the guilt and the hurt slip away, and in it’s place was an indescribable lightness. I felt connected to something greater than me, larger than the physical world. I felt free.
I know we are meant to live our lives without these negative emotions, and that is what true freedom feels like. Too many people live in self-erected prisons built with negative acts and emotions. I know many people would describe it as being touched by God. It was powerful and provided a clarity that allowed me to see that EVERYTHING was connected.
Every day I live my life by not inviting guilt into it because if you let guilt in, he’s like a guest that will always overstay his welcome.
By Pat Williams
Connect with me
My life has been an inward and outward journey marked by change. The three greatest consistencies have been gratitude, my children and my business. I began CyberCletch LLC – Your Marketing Management Team more than ten years ago. I’ve also worked freelance for a newspaper, was a car dealership service technician, managed boutiques and sold real estate. I’ve lived in two countries, five cities and one township. I haven’t experienced enough of the world yet. I love talking one-on-one with somebody and learning what makes them tick. I spend too much time on my computer and too little time in my kayak. I am constantly seeking that elusive balance. I live for road trips.