Letting The Light In And Moving Forward
I was watching a documentary on Netflix called A Family Affair. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it is about a mom who caused her children and family an immense amount of pain and has kept many secrets from them. The film appears to be a journey of trying to unpack the pain caused and reveal the secrets the mother has kept, while her children try to get her to admit what she has done to them. I started to think about my own journey while watching it and paused to write my thoughts on the subject. After completing this piece, I probably won’t go back to finish the documentary because the ending has now become irrelevant to me. Confronting someone with the pain they have caused you when they are refusing to take ownership or acknowledge their actions is a strange affair. I’m not talking about the isolated spat here and there. Think of someone who may have caused another person a lot of pain and trauma — emotional abuse, abandonment, physical abuse, manipulation, vindictiveness, and many other atrocities that people can commit. The fact that the pain might be caused by someone close to you only intensifies and complicates the pain in ways that a stranger never can. So what can you expect when you confront someone with their sins and actions? What is the expected or hoped for takeaway? Say they do finally acknowledge the extreme pain they have caused you and/or others. Say they do take ownership of their actions. What’s next? Will their simple recognition of the wrongs committed be enough or do you hope they fall to their knees and beg for your forgiveness? Are you, as the accuser, prepared to offer complete forgiveness? Will it be that simple? After they have gone for days, months, years and decades without so much as an apology or regretful look in their eye? What is your plan to move forward? As someone who has been wronged egregiously by people in the past, I do not expect any of them to take ownership or acknowledge their actions. But if they did - what purpose would it finally serve? Can it really bring the healing that I desire? Or will it hurt more for me to learn that they knew what they did and that it took them so long to accept that they caused that kind of pain? It certainly can’t fix the damage. It wouldn’t fix the pain or the brokenness in me. No matter how much someone begs for forgiveness, it can never restore me or anyone else to who we were before. Not completely. After pain like that, you are irrevocably changed. So is there a point in pursuing and prodding for a concession? And then there is the other side of the coin. Consider for a moment - what if you fill that character role in someone else’s memory? What if you are unwittingly the villain in someone else’s story? Reality is based on perception, perception is different for every individual - and therefore so is truth. I’ve learned many things on my journey - but this is something I have only recently started to realize and come to terms with. That maybe there aren’t as many liars and deniers in this world as so many would like to believe. Perhaps some issues boil down to differing perspectives and versions of reality. Two people can be present and enduring in the same incident - and both have vastly different memories and accounts of what happened. And to each person, the other could be identified as a perpetrator or wrongdoer. You could very well be a villain to someone else. Are you prepared to pull the veil back and take that sobering look at yourself? Are you afraid of what you might find? It might leave you feeling raw, and damaged and broken. More broken than you were before. I’ve faced both my victim and villain roles. Facing my mistakes has left me feeling naked, raw, twisted and damaged beyond repair. And at this moment, I find myself pondering whether life is just a journey of learning curves and trying to keep our heads above the water as the undertow of life tries to pull us down. As imperfect and flawed people that move forward and make more mistakes, we have to continually reconcile these new dark spots on our hearts with who we wish we were, who we should have been and who we are. We need to learn to live life in the present and not the past. But perhaps that same approach can be taken with our victimhood. We have to learn to reconcile what has happened and move forward. There may never be an adequate amount of recognition, acceptance, or justice for pain and trauma you have endured. You have to keep moving forward. What is the alternative? Allowing what has happened to you or what you have done to others to rule your future? To continue to drag you down? No. You must fight. Fight for more joyful, purposeful and peaceful moments in your future. Use your pain as a reason to do better, to be a better person. Never let it be an excuse for poor behavior or your own mistakes. Let as much light into your life and your heart as you can. It may never be enough to drown out all of the darkness. I saw an interesting meme on the internet once that may be a good life philosophy to consider. It said something about how maybe life isn’t about being great or having all good moments. Maybe it’s supposed to be one big, painful, dark journey and the secret is to create as much joy and happiness as you can in the darkness. So go - create that light. Find that joy. Fill your world with as much love and peace as you can, even if you are fighting through something horrible. Let the light fortify you in your battle so that the darkness might be easier to face. But never give up fighting.
Guest Blogger: Kate Baker facebook.com/PLFGifts