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Your Past Is Your Ally

Your Past Is Your Ally
Your Past Is Your Ally

How many times have you beat yourself up over past mistakes? A hundred? A thousand? Or, felt sorry for yourself for having lived a rough life? God knows I have. A thousand times over. I beat myself up for things that were in my control, but many more times for things that were out of my control.

I felt sorry for myself too. I thought “If you lived my shitty life you would drink too.” I played the victim role because my mom left when I was 10; because she died when I was 22; because I wasn’t able to have a childhood since I was busy taking care of my sister; because I am an alcoholic. This list is endless.

Then one day, after I got sober, I realized my life wasn’t so shitty after all. Of course it was hard. Don’t get me wrong. Having an alcoholic parent (even though she wasn’t in the house), and turning into an alcoholic later on in life, was no easy feat to live through. But, I’ve met a lot of people who had it far worse than I. Similar childhood, worse circumstances in their drinking careers.

The point is, my life could have been far worse than it was. I can look back and see the crap, or I can look back and see the good that came out of my circumstances.

For example:

  • Growing up the way I did, being the oldest sibling, taught me responsibility
  • I learned how to face hard times with resiliency and courage
  • In sobriety I learned that I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I ever could have imagined
  • In sobriety I learned that my past and war stories from my drinking days help those newer than me

Instead of looking at my life as a rough draw, I look for the assets. I share my story with others. Sharing my experiences and outcomes with others helps them through similar situations.

I also learned that the past is just that – the past. It’s done. We can’t change what happened. The only thing we can change is how we act, and react, today. We can choose to be better than our old selves of yesterday.

But it’s not going to happen overnight. And it won’t come automatically. I must make a conscious effort to be better than I was yesterday, to make better choices. I also look for the assets in my past, instead of the liabilities.

So, what about you? Is your past something you look back on with shame and regret? Or, do you look back and see how your experiences can benefit others? How the shitty, oftentimes hard life you had, can hold you up in hard times, and raise you to the sky during the good times.

The choice is yours. You can continue playing the victim role, because God knows it’s satisfying (believe me, I know). Or, you can change out the broken mirror to a fresh, new, blemish free mirror, and start looking back with love. Love for yourself. Forgiveness for yourself.

It all starts with you. You have the power to look back on your past and see strength instead of weakness. As long as you start with forgiveness and love, you will be well on your way.

Originally published August 17, 2016 – medium.com

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