Originally posted on Facebook HERE

So much of what we do is based on recreating pleasant experiences and/or avoiding unpleasant ones that in many cases it determines the course of our lives depending on how we process this information. In the past week, for whatever reason I thought a lot about some of the terrible, stupid things I’ve done in the past. People I hurt, things I said or did that looking back now I have a hard time believing I did it. As a recovering alcoholic & addict, there’s plenty to choose from. When you’re high, the dark side of your psyche can take hold and even good people can do things they’d never consider sober (basically, we’re all good people, right? But that’s maybe a topic for another day)… bottom line is, no matter what the reason, I did many things I’m not proud of. I’m really, really ashamed of some of my past. And it hurts me to think about it. You don’t need to be an addict to have moments in your past that you’re ashamed of, my guess is we all do. That shame can hold us back. It can limit us today, even though it happened 10, 20, 30 years ago or more. In my upcoming book Feed Your Angel, I talk a bit about going back and finding these painful events from your life and working through them with forgiveness and love. I’ll give you and example from my early childhood, one of the things I haven’t forgiven myself for to this day. Kids can be so cruel, I guess I was no exception. Used to be that on Valentines Day you gave a card to every other kid in the class. They had like little “mailboxes” set up to put the cards in, then we all got to open and read them. I’m talking elementary school here. Well, there was a girl in our class that we all pretty much picked on. I want to cry just writing that. It was awful, my heart feels so bad for her now. Very cruel. Every day. Valentines Day had to be a horrible, horrible day for her because many kids didn’t give her one at all, or wrote nasty things on her cards (unsigned, of course). So, come Valentines Day my mom gave me my cards to fill out and get ready and I took a card for this girl, changed the wording to something really mean, left it unsigned, and then (thank God for this part), made a big deal out of getting her card done first to my Mom. Well, my mom was one of the smartest people I ever met. So, she figured something was up. On the day the cards were passed out the girl in question didn’t get my card at all, but she did get one really nice card – the one my mom swapped out for me. Why, over 50 years later, this event still sticks with me I don’t know. I do know it’s very hard for me to write about, and it elicits a very emotional response even now. How could I be so cruel? When I went home and told my mom that this girl got one card from someone that was really nice (she got very few cards, and the others were generic or mean, so – that card meant a lot to her), mom busted me, and told me I gave her that card. That she knew I was up to something, opened the mean card I prepared and swapped it. And how ashamed she was and hurt that I would do such a thing. Man. Shame & guilt are powerful emotions. I haven’t even come close to forgiving myself for this, which is one of the smaller events I’m embarrassed and ashamed of from my past. But we create these little vendettas against ourselves all the time, often in a much smaller fashion. Have a great conversation with someone, but say one thing you wish you could take back, post something on Facebook you take one way – but a friend or two takes great offense to, there’s so many little things that happen daily that we file away in the “embarrassment and shame” folders of our minds. And then there’s the big ones. How can we look at the world with a loving, forgiving heart unless we’re willing to start with ourselves? One of the things in a recovery program is to make a list of all the people we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. I don’t know whatever happened to this girl. Today, I will send her love wherever she is. And then I’ll work on forgiving myself, and realizing that before I judge anyone else – well, “those who live in glass houses”…

1 Comment

  1. Dave, my hateful kid moment was so bad I’m too ashamed to put it out there. I’m still friends with that person and have never found a way to apologize. She and I have talked about it, but I can’t undo the hurt. Mother wasn’t able to stop me, but I have had many opportunities to hug my friend and tell her I love her. Like you, lesson learned but never have gotten over it.

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