Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Looking Backward

When I was living in Africa, early one morning I watched an African with his ox pulling a plow through his field. The lines were straight, and for the twenty minutes or so I stared at him his gaze never focused anywhere but straight ahead.

I thought of that after I read an inspirational message that urged us not to look backward. "Looking backward means going backward," the person implied.

Sounds like good advice in farming, but I'm not sure it's helpful with wounded people like us. We need to look backward. That's where our problems began. Unless we go back to the source, we stay so busy moving forward—but our childhood injuries stay unhealed and keep pace with us.

Going back to that damaged childhood isn't easy. And it takes courage—a lot of courage—to re-experience those wounds. But as one authority said, "The only way out is through. He meant that if we want release—true healing—we have to push ourselves to revisit that pain. The big difference is that we can accept our pain and let it help us move forward as mature adults.

We can learn to say things to ourselves like this:

* I didn't ask for that. I didn't want it.

* I was a kid with no way to defend myself.

* That bigger person overpowered me and stole my innocence.

* I felt unloved and unwanted and someone took advantage of me.

Those statements aren't cure-alls, but they can help us feel tenderness toward that isolated child. Here's a statement I've said to myself many times when I've revisited my childhood: "I did the best I could."

For me, that statement means that I took care of myself through innate childhood wisdom and survived. No self-blame or recriminations. Being a six-year-old kid with no one to help him, I remind myself that I handled myself the best I could.

Now I can walk—and run—along the healing path.

Instead of condemning my childhood, 
I say, "I did the best I could."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I like that "I did the best I could."