I Am Not My Past

Do you remember the movie The Lion King? I was recently reminded of one of the scenes from that movie. Towards the end of the film, right after Simba is reunited with the monkey Rafiki, the two characters have an interesting conversation. This is their exchange:

Simba: Looks like the winds are changing.
Rafiki: Ah yes, change is good.
Simba: Yeah, but it’s not easy. I know what I have to do. But, going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long….
{Rafiki smacks Simba on the head with his staff.}
Simba: Oww! Jeez– what was that for?
Rafiki: It doesn’t matter; it’s in the past! {laughs}
Simba: {Rubbing head} Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.

I love this conversation. Simba is right, change isn’t easy but it’s vital. I’ve made some mistakes in my life. Big fat mistakes. And in order to move forward and learn, I have to face some hard truths. Deep down, I knew better than to marry my ex. He was exhibiting red flags way before the proposal and I chose to turn a blind eye. And when those red flags escalated and showed the true weight and depth of his character, I made excuses. I let him get away with so much. I defended his habits and I kept standing by my man.

To be honest, I don’t see the end of that marriage as a failure. My failure was in denying my self and my worth for someone else’s poor behavior. For someone else’s bad habits and disrespect. That is one of my biggest regrets. Like Rafiki says, the past can hurt. It hurts to remember how I pushed myself to accept unacceptable behavior. It’s painful to think about how I made myself smaller to keep him comfortable. I regret not honoring my doubts, for not protecting myself, and for not standing up for the fact hat I deserve better. I regret every day that I lived under that oppression.

My biggest regret is that I let myself down. I’ve made a lot of mistakes… painful ones. But I’m coming to terms with the difference between “I made a mistake” and “I’m a failure”. One is the result of poor decisions and the other is a defining characteristic of who I am. I am not my mistakes – they are something that happened. What matters is what I do now.

Every day I must actively choose to change my story. Like Rifiki said: the past can hurt, and you can either run from it or learn from it. I’m choosing to learn. It would be a lot easier to close my eyes and cover my ears and pretend it didn’t happen, but I wont let myself. I’m accepting the pain of taking an honest look at my past and I’m letting it teach me some hard lessons. I am not who I was. I’m moving forward a different woman.

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