Holding on to a memory of hurting a loved one can carry with it guilt, regret, and a fractured sense of who we are.
Carrying quiet messages in our mind about ourselves….
𝗤𝘂𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗯𝗮𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁
𝗤𝘂𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝘄𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵𝘆
𝗤𝘂𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲
Messages that keep us in our own internal cell of self doubt, criticism, and blame.
And as a result, create unintentional walls of separation between you and the world.
Looking back over my life….I revisit my teenage years.
Matt at 17 years old.
Working a full-time fast food job and supporting a full time drug habit.
𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝘂𝘁.
𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗮𝗱
𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀
𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗯𝘆 𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗱𝗿𝘂𝗴𝘀…..
A habit that my minimum wage job could not support.
My inner voice was too loud, and….
𝐼 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑢𝑠ℎ 𝑖𝑡 𝑎𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑐𝑡 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑖𝑡 𝑑𝑖𝑑𝑛’𝑡 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡.
𝐼 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑢𝑛 𝑓𝑢𝑟𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟, 𝑓𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟, 𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑑 𝑖𝑡
𝐼 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑟𝑢𝑔𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑠ℎ𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡𝑜𝑙𝑑 𝑚𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠
𝗜 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗺𝘆𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳.
Already working full time, I couldn’t risk stealing from my employer.
Robbing a store, bank, or the like was not a consideration.
I decided the one thing that carried more guilt and regret than the previous two might have..
𝗜 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗺𝘆 𝗳𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿.
Sneaking into his room when he was asleep or not paying attention.
Running not only from the scene, but also from the quiet voice inside of me that told me what I was doing is wrong.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 “𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿”
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗲 𝗜 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗜 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗱𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝘆 𝗳𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿
The voice that I often ignored during that period of my life.
As much as I wanted to listen to it. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to turn that voice up and the other down.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗮𝘀, 𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗮 𝗹𝗼𝘂𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗱 𝗶𝗳 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗲.
As I write this story, the dominant voice that creates my inner dialogue has shifted to the one I ignored for so long.
The voice that had I been able to hear it would have kept me from doing things that hurt the ones I love, including myself.
The years have continued to pass.
And thoughts of stealing from my father to quiet my mind have long gone.
Outdated thoughts replaced with new ones.
𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑖𝑓 ℎ𝑒 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑑𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑖𝑚
𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑑𝑚𝑖𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑤𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑖𝑚, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼’𝑚 𝑠𝑜𝑟𝑟𝑦
𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑒𝑡 𝑔𝑜 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑡 𝑠𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑔𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠ℎ𝑖𝑝
I realized how these unspoken wrongs were keeping me from being present with my father.
There was always the reminder of what I had done, even though he was there for me many times.
And still is to this day.
I realized that when I was around him, I wanted to say it.
I wanted to say, “𝐼 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑙𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑡𝑒𝑒𝑛𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑟 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓 ℎ𝑎𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑑.”
But for so long, I couldn’t.
Because I was afraid.
Afraid of what might happen if I shared this with him.
“𝑊𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑖𝑡 ℎ𝑢𝑟𝑡 ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑖𝑓 ℎ𝑒 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑡ℎ?”
“𝑊𝑖𝑙𝑙 ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑔𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑟 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑡 𝑚𝑒?”
The feelings of guilt, regret, and fear all circling around this conversation.
𝗦𝗼 𝗜 𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗮 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻.
I decided that by sharing this with him it would not cause him harm.
If I thought that my honesty would bring harm to him or anyone that I’m apologizing to, I would keep it to myself.
In this case, the only risk was that he might not forgive me.
It might cause us to become more distant with each other, rather than closer.
𝗕𝘂𝘁, 𝗜 𝗳𝗲𝗹𝘁 𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄.
It was time to come clean.
It was time to take responsibility.
It was time step into the discomfort.
My chest tight
Heart beating like a drum
And a deep breath…
I told him what I had done
I told him how I had wronged him
I told him why I did it
And I apologized….
The opposite of what I expected.
He wasn’t aware that I had taken money from him.
And even more important, he said that any previous mistakes were forgiven years ago.
For years I wanted to come clean, but didn’t because I feared what would happen.
And to him, it was like nothing ever happened.
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑡 𝐼 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛.
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛 𝑖𝑓 𝐼 𝑡𝑜𝑙𝑑 ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑦𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑎𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝑘𝑒𝑝𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑠𝑢𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮 𝘄𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆.
I recognize that this could have went a different direction, but to be honest with him was worth the risk.
What does this prove to me?
Even though I am years past my experiences with using drugs to try and silence my inner voice..
What I know is this.
The inner voice is always there.
Always speaking to me.
Always presenting an opportunity for me to learn more about myself
𝗔𝗻 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗲 𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝘃𝗲𝘀
𝗔𝗻 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀
𝗔𝗻 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗲𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝘄𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝗻
What I also know is…
People can change.
People can forgive
And life doesn’t have to be as challenging as we make it.
At least, this has been my experience.