I Know a Secret About Getting Past the Monster
I’ve made so many mistakes. And I used to be paralyzed by the feelings of shame and guilt I had about those mistakes.
This is a story for any of you who live with a bleak inner monster who whispers to you about why you’ll never be worthy or lovable. Many of us get pretty good at shutting out the monster’s voice, but the monster is there keeping us from being at home in our deepest heart of hearts. The monster whispers – you are unlovable at your core, making us uncertain when we need confidence, shaking us when we want to be steady.
But I know a secret about getting past the monster.
Once upon a time, in the couple years before I met my husband, I was in a relationship with a pathological liar. When I found out the truth – or enough of it to realize the vastness of the lies, I was mortified. If you’ve ever been in a terrible, unhealthy relationship, you may be familiar with the feelings of shame and embarrassment I faced. It is not that I should have felt this way, but I did. The bad parts of the relationship weren’t my fault, but I couldn’t see that part yet.
Instead I just saw my own part in it and could hardly look back on the person I’d been without shuddering; I would be filled with disgust for myself, and when those emotions welled up, my self-confidence and ability to make decisions would plummet.
When I looked back at the person I had been, I saw an idiot. That person was stupid. out of control. shockingly naive. I saw someone shameful to be.
She was undeserving and unworthy.
It was painful to look back on her, and soul shaking to think she was a part of me. How could I be a good person if I was also a person who could make such shameful mistakes?
I wanted to forget the wretched Before part of myself, pretend it hadn’t happened, pretend she hadn’t happened. But she stayed with me – placing a monster in the darkest part of my mind. In those dark shadows I saw only recrimination, guilt and shame and I turned away.
This unwillingness to confront the monster made me a person who was strong until I hit that wall of uncertainty where I couldn’t accept myself, and thus worried the outside world couldn’t accept me either – and then I was weak, wanting, needing approval from others, because I couldn’t give it to myself.
But one day, as I realized how far I’d come, I realized I wanted to find a way to feel whole, and in order to do that, I had to stop hating the me who came before. I finally realized what that ashamed girl needed.
In order to accept her as part of my whole, instead of shying away from my most horrible self, I had to tell her thank you.
Thank you for surviving.
Thank you for making it through that time.
Thank you for being the you who stumbled through so awkwardly, so I could be here walking strongly with your knowledge.
You see, that horrible self, she wasn’t horrible after all. She was the girl who made it through. She was the me who was younger and less experienced and I couldn’t have grown into the woman I am now without all of the learning I did through her.
As I began saying thank you and feeling gratitude to the me who came before, that monster of guilt and shame moved aside and I found something beautiful.
Instead of finding I was unlovable at the core, I found I was safe, at home because I could accept the parts of myself I had deemed unworthy, and see the growth that came from them.
Parenting has been filled with its own mix of mistakes, confusion and inability to handle things the way I’d like, and with those parenting mistakes the monster of guilt and shame sometimes tries to take over.
I’ve thought, ‘If I could go back now I’d have handled it so much better! I have so many more tools now!‘ I think back to the panicky feelings I used to have while handling my kids’ toddler years emotional storms, and the guilt and shame crashes in – UGhhhh! I wish I’d had the skills I do now!
But how did I get those tools?
How did I get those skills?
That me who stumbled through and made a ton of mistakes, that’s how. We have to make mistakes to learn. Making mistakes and missteps helped me find the path I’m on now. I don’t expect to stop making mistakes at any point in my life, but I hope to continue to find compassion for myself when I make them. I will keep saying thank you to my past and asking What have I gained from this?
Gratitude for the past empowers me to learn and let go so I can be present now.
I am a work in progress. I am home.
So today I offer you thanks to your most horrible self.
Thank you for making it through the hard stuff, the muck and the terrible places.
Thank you for your courage, and your tenacity.
Thank you for being a fool.
I like this you who is here, learning and growing.
Thank you for making it through so that you may bring your own unique gifts to this world.
You are a work in progress. You are home
Friends, do you have a monster who tells you lies about making mistakes? Do you have a past self you’ve been wishing never existed? Come chat with me in the comments. Sometimes I find I put off living and being present because all I’m thinking about is how much better it will be later, when everything is right. I want to remember that we can live here in the now, mistakes and all because we are works in progress, and we are home.
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So wise. Lots to think about here. Thank you for publishing your writing, I really value it.
Thanks Brianna, I appreciate you reading.
It feels good to read this, and know that this period of my life is behind. Faith in love and trust that life is wonderful helped me out. The lessons learnt helped me greatly in motherhood! I am glad of the sequence, and happy that I relate to others going through a similar situation.
Thank you for your text, Alissa!
I just went into the bathroom to read this alone. Told my wonderful husband I needed 20 minutes of exclusive mommy time (we have an almost 4yr old daughter).
I have not read anything that has spoke to me like this in a long time. I too had a negative (he is a very abusive sociopath) relationship just a year before meeting my husband. I got or thought I got myself strong by pushing it all down…until my husband & I had our child. It all began to unravel and though I’ve been in therapy and diagnosed with PTSD, I struggle to put into words what the dark monster is.
Reading this put those dark secret feelings I have about myself into a form of communication I have not been able to. I can’t tell you what a relief this is 🙂
I think many time when we can find words for the darkest parts of ourselves, it helps even if we don’t completely eradicate that darkness. Giving form to fearful or painful emotions sometimes allows us just enough distance to process them better. Thanks so much for being here.
Great writing and a fabulous piece! Hearing that others didn’t get it right the first time or several times always makes me feel better and know that I’m not alone.
As a woman who has strong will, is confident and smart I kept making the same ridiculous choices in men. I never learned until that “one day”, in the last (and final) horrible relationship I was in. I found out I was pregnant four months into it. But I knew I wasn’t putting her, my first born child, through anything I had been through. I got out. With no place to live, I left. With little money, I left. I still can’t believe I did it. I had good friends and an awesome mom! Without those people I’m not sure I could’ve made it. All I knew is I was running and not looking back. I didn’t care what laid ahead, I just knew it was now all for her. And she is worth all the uncertainty I faced, all the lonely nights I curled up and sung to my belly, all the pennies I counted. I’m so thankful and happy I found an ounce of courage and left that old self behind.
She’s almost six and she’s beautiful and smart. And loved beyond belief.
Thank you for your site and for allowing me to share and grow a little more today. You take care. I’ll be reading your posts everyday!
It’s always good to know we’re not alone. Thanks for your kind words and for telling a little part of your brave story.
Beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.
Thanks for reading 🙂
WOW! Raw truth is powerful! This story is very familiar to me. Beautiful quote! I need that one as a magnet on my fridge or a coffee mug. When, I came to accept my past, as being apart of my life’s journey, of who and where I am today. I find a freedom of just being me, I am home.
Beautiful piece, Alissa!! Xx
Thanks Treva, which quote spoke to you? The one about being home or the gratitude for the past?
Thank you for reminding me, that I am okay the way I am !!! No need to be perfect. There’s always something to learn and to be proud of in the end. We just need to be patient at times.
Thanks for sharing this story.
Perfect would be boring, right? 🙂
I love humility and accountability. I often feel like when we truly change for the better we have to look at all those dark places. It takes a lot of self work undone and redone. The humility piece allows us to be honest and the accountability piece allows us to recognize it with out it getting us down.
I used to have a lot a guilt with my “drinking self” gawd she was ugly, not present and pretty darn stupid….But as I grew through those guilt full places I realized that the sober person I am now deserves way more attention then the old self. I had to learn to celebrate the re-birth of myself. Give yourself credit for all the steps in a better direction because it does get easier and the guilt will fade
Beautifully said, thank you.
There is such truth in this! Really hits home. Great reminder that we aren’t perfect but a constant work in progress towards our best self. Love it.
Thank you Kara.