Braving the wilderness

When I was young, I always thought that life was unfair. I always hated the world for treating everyone right, but me. I always hated those nights of burning the midnight oil while crying my eyes out because I didn’t understand why my life was so different from my peers. I didn’t know the reason why I was born into this world to suffer. And in a hopeless way, I told myself that I was going to spend the rest of my life suffering from the pain that the universe had given to me.

Why giving me something that I never wanted in the first place? But deep down, I hated myself. I resented myself for always trying so hard at everything, but never getting what I deserved. I resented others for not having to try as hard, but always receiving more than me. I compared myself to other people’s lives in such a pathetic way that now in recalling those earlier years, I realized that I had no sympathy for myself at the time. I got used to blame other people for the faults, the broken heart and those relentless tears in my life. I got used to blame others for not understanding me.

And of course, I always found myself at the same place wondering “Why does life treat everyone else right, but me?” It was a recurring theme in my teenage years. And yet, I had never learnt to forgive myself or to let go of the imperfections that somehow made me perfect. But the truth is that I was being unfair to myself. I was the one who treated myself badly. I was the one who didn’t understand what it meant to love someone when that someone was me. I was the one who let myself down.

“What if it was a curse?” “What if this was what I deserved after doing so many bad things in another previous life?” And “what if I was never able to escape from this curse?” I don’t think those questions were only something personal in my life experience nor was I totally alone in this battle to fight for the ultimate truth because at some points in our collective life, we all might just ask ourselves those same things.

Some relies on fortune-telling to guess the unknown by some supernatural powers in order to prepare themselves for the future. Some searches their destiny through the zodiac signs of the Chinese culture deriving from thousands of stories and folklores to escape from the hard truth. One way or another, it just opens the path to the great illusion of the self.

What could we have learnt to grow if everything wrong happened in our life was to blame for? Who would be responsible for all of the unfortunates? Imagine our life chasing after the unknown so that peace will find us at the end. Will it? Will you be at peace at the age of 80? The truth is that the curse is never a creation of someone else, but us. There is no black magic in this world. There is nobody hiding somewhere in a far away corner of the city, waiting for us to be born, and then placing a curse on our forehead.

We were born free. Then, we grow up to become the master of our own prisoners. Forgiveness is not something adults teach us when we are kids. We learn to forgive people as we grow older. We learn that it’s important to forgive others when they make mistakes, when they hurt us or even when they make our heart broken into a million pieces. But, there is one thing we never learn to take time to understand, the ability to forgive ourselves. Self-neglect isn’t just something that only people with a damaged childhood would experience. It’s universal. We as human beings live in a collective society that believe it or not, our lives are interconnected and our experiences are never isolated.

Maybe we’re never patient enough.

I’ve known so many people from lates 20s to early 40s, who got stuck in the distant past. I know that the pain is real, overwhelming and sometimes unbreathable. I remember those nights of listening to those stories and feeling the pain that could transform into my body. It made my heart ache. It was uneasy for me to be there not because it was so heavy for me to understand what the person’s been through.

I wasn’t sad nor angry at how much they had been hurt by others. But, I was sad at how much I’ve seen them in me, the 17-year-old kid who hated himself and others so much to the point of ending his life. Sometimes I wish I could go back in times to bring him closer to my heart and whisper in his ears that;

“I know you’re in pain right now, and yes maybe it’s just meaningless to tell you that everything is going to be fine one day, but it will be. And even if it’s not, then you have to continue to try. You have to try again, again and again even if you have to do that for another 10 years. And believe me, the universe will always be on your side no matter where you are on this journey. I’m sorry for having treated you that way for so long, but I’m trying to repair the damage that I caused years ago.”

Because one day, he has learnt to accept the past, move on and let himself free of the pains that were just worthless at the time. Pain is inevitable. We can’t avoid it. At one point or another, we will have to face it. It’s how we choose to internalize it that will make all the difference. “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance” (*).

Learning to forgive ourselves is never an easy journey to go through, but one thing that has taught me over the years is that running away from it is just going to make our pain grow stronger. The only one way to quiet it down might just be to stay with it, acknowledge it, scream with it, and then somehow, it will find a way to heal on its own. The word is “in”, not “away”. Sometimes I wish that the people I have met and known in my life, could find their own home in this world of chaos.

to all the people I’ve known, cared and loved deeply,

in Montreal, July 19

(*) from Brené Brown, who has moved the world upside down by the power of daring greatly

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