“I am far from what I once was, but not yet what I am going to be.” – Unknown
We can all recall a time in our lives when we were preparing for a trip, whether a short one or a long one. We would pack our bags and jump in the car, bus, train or plane and away we went. Just the anticipation of going somewhere was always exciting. Seeing familiar places, new places, old friends and family would always bring me to a good place.
But what happens when the journey turns sour and what you were expecting becomes a nightmare that seems to never end? A journey that began with that one day or moment where your life would never be the same.
Year after year and moment after the moment I reflected. I felt like damaged goods, different, weird, ashamed and unworthy. For a while I even forgot why. “Was I just born this way”, I use to say to myself. Unfortunately, it was my secret to keep and work through alone, or so I thought for many years.
And so the journey began. My life as a young boy being molested by a trusted family member. How would it shape me? How would I think as young boy, teenager, young adult, boyfriend, husband or father? Would my outlook on life change? Was I normal still? Would my views on sexual relationships change? Could I still trust people? Did every seven to ten-year old boy have an opinion or thought about sex as I did? Why did I become so guarded with everyone? Why did it become so easy to dismiss people, especially the ones closest to me? And what does loving with your heart really mean?
These and more are questions or thoughts that filled my mind as I was growing up at various stages of my life, that I obviously could not answer, but they have shaped my relationships and propensities in so many ways. Ultimately placing me on journey to many dark places until my emotional life was broken by pain, misery and shame.
So today as I sit here and reflect on my past, my perpetrator and all the poor decisions I made because of this moment, it is not a time to say despicable things, place blame (although she was at fault) or discuss how angry or hurt I was, but for me it is a time to really reflect on me and who I am today.
Unfortunately, bad things happen in the world everyday and most stories will probably never be heard. It is a terrible tragedy that we will all face directly or indirectly at some point in our lives.
I am not here to tell you how you should respond or act, I can only take responsibility for me and my actions. And my actions or choice was/is to heal, grow and not repeat the horrendous things that occurred during my childhood or perpetuate them as an adult. I, me… Have done this by reflecting, counseling, praying, forgiving and ultimately giving it over to God.
So I compare a part of this journey like any other journey, like the first time I learned how to ride a bike. My father was behind me first holding on to the bike as he pushed me forward and then he let me go. There I was for the first time riding a bike. My life would never be the same after that moment. A kid first learning how to ride a bike is a big deal. It afforded me new opportunities to explore with my friends, gave me a sense of independence and helped to forge new friendships within my community. It was a great thing as I embarked on my journey of first learning how to ride a bike. Seems simple and harmless and it was, but nonetheless it was a pivotal point in my life just like many others moments that I can reflect on and now see how they have affected my life.
What becomes difficult is what we are reflecting on. Some things we would rather not remember, I get it, but I agree with Brene Brown as she states, “When we choose to bury the story, we forever remain the subject.” In other words, I refuse to remain a victim of my past no matter how tragic the impact, because whether I believe it or not, agree with it or not, I WILL continue to live out the secrets, hidden moments and suppressed thoughts of being victimized, because it was all a part of my story. What I have control over now is how those moments will be lived out. Unlike when I was a child and ignorant to who I had become.
For a big part of my life I was not in control. I was a victim of my circumstances and was okay with that until it begin to manifest a deeper pain that impacted me as well as those that I loved or claimed to. It was a journey with a very predictable ending, but who ever sees the forest while in the midst of the trees?
Knowing better is rarely enough to propel us to do better.
So it took the pain of two divorces, multiple broken hearts (including my own) and years of living in confusion, misery and shame before I would wake up and become aware. Truly aware of where this journey of pain and suffering actually began. I was like the kid in the picture with a suitcase. I was going somewhere, but my destination was solely based on the circumstances I had previously experienced, like a pre-mapped out plan.
Like for so many, the product of the pain started decades prior, I just didn’t realize it until later in life after a great deal of damage had already charted its course. But it’s never too late to start anew. We just need some courage, a little faith, the hope that something better is possible and the desire to begin a new journey. Easier said than done, but nevertheless possible.
I am a firm believer that our past does not have to relegate our future or our ultimate destiny, but it can. The choice and power lie in our ability to understand and recognize that there is more to us than what we have experienced.
And perhaps a small part of me will always be that kid with a suitcase in my hand heading somewhere, but a least now I know where I am headed and my trip(s) have a purpose that I clearly understand and am okay taking. And so the journey begins… Where will you decide to go with the rest of your life?