Had I Known Then What I Know Now

After days, weeks, a month of feeling confident and happy, I sabotaged my own peace of mind today, intentionally.  I have been writing on this blog for over six years, and there was a part of me that wondered about the Rosa of six  years ago.  The 26 year old, still gainfully employed, naive, loud-mouthed Rosa.  I have been pondering for some time, going back and reading clear through my blog.

I didn’t do this when I first thought of it, because I thought it would bring up a lot of pain and trauma that I don’t want to call my mind’s attention to.  I mean, I’m at a good place in my life, in my head.  Why mess that up?  And then there was today, where I am feeling frustrated with life in general, and I opened the first entry in my blog and started reading, in the hopes that it might make me feel better somehow, or that I would have some special insight.

I was wrong.  It was painful and my head and my heart still hurt.  To see myself struggling so much, to see myself being self-destructive, to see myself stumbling around in the 40+hour a week work crowd and never living up to my obligations.  It hurt to see the things that I couldn’t do, that I thought I had accepted now.  It hurt to see a Rosa who lost hope, over and over.  It made me uncomfortable to read about the romantic relationships, my desperate attempts at making them work without being true to myself.  It hurt myself to see me so young.

Over the  years, I have trained myself to stay in the moment, and, when looking up, to look forward.  I make plans to make plans to make plans.  I structure and I schedule.  I have routines that I stick with.  I know my limits when it comes to interacting with others and being in certain environments.  I know when to say “no” and have no problem doing so if that is what is best for my mental health.  I have much clearer and stronger boundaries with everyone I know.

Six years ago, I didn’t know I would need to do all of these things.  Six years ago, I thought the right combination of pills and therapy would solve all of my problems.  Six years ago, I didn’t realize the hard work it would take to get me to where I am today.  Six years ago, five years ago, two years ago, I didn’t quite realize that I would have to acknowledge the faults within myself and bring myself under control to a point where those faults didn’t damage me or the people around me.

Who I am now is so different than who I was then, that my throat closed up when I saw how the Rosa of six years ago was living life.  I know those things in my life happened, but so much of it, and my attitude toward it, is and was shameful.  Certain entries made me cringe at how improperly I dealt with a situation.  How lacking in compassion, both for myself and other people, I was.  How self-centered and foolish and unknowledgable about what life is really all about, I was.

I have clearly learned much better how to manage my bipolar disorder.  I know what I can and can’t do, and I don’t thrust my middle finger up at the sky, yelling, “Fuck you, God!” anymore.  I know my limits and I am less full of righteous indignation and anger and all things ugly.  Lord, I was angry.  When did I overcome that hump?  I’m not even sure.

I had a therapist (not GoM, not the one who hated me, but the one before) who would constantly harp on finding “common humanity” and I thought she was full of beans.  We are all the same, at the most basic level.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I can now.  Just recently, actually, have I been able to wrap my head around it.

I am a unique individual, but I am basically the same as you, or the homeless guy panning for change, or the most powerful CEO on Wall Street.  We are all the same, at the most basic level.  We all have fears and emotions and thoughts.  We are shaped by our experiences.  I may have more in common with my worst enemy than either one of us would admit.

What I now have to swallow is that the Rosa of 2014 is the same as the Rosa of 2008.  I can see that and I can accept that, and if that is the lesson that I was supposed to learn from this most-distressing exercise, then fine.  I wish I could go back and save myself some heartache, give myself a few pointers, shift the focus.  Knowing full well that I can’t do any of that, it stands that I have to accept the vast differences, but embrace that positive change has occurred, and try and keep my mind just on that.

I don’t have to dwell on all of the stumbling blocks of earlier days, and pick them apart, although this is what I itch to do.  What I do have to do, do NEED to do, is accept who I was, where I have been, and gather who I am now in a big hug, promising only to keep improving.

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14 thoughts on “Had I Known Then What I Know Now

  1. I had a great shrink way back when. After a few years, I was finished. She said “There’s a lot of your life you don’t remember. What you DO remember is bad, so I figure what you’ve lost is worse. Going into that stuff will be painful, disruptive … and I’m not sure it would really make you feel better. So let’s NOT go there.” And we didn’t.

    There’s a lot of ugly stuff “back there.” I don’t think on it. The past is over. and can’t be changed. Forward is better. There’s nothing wrong with leaving those sleeping dogs to enjoy their naps. My shrink was right. She was a smart lady.

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    • I think your shrink had the right idea. The memories I have lost, or that are fuzzy, are probably worse than the bad memories that linger in my head. I’m not sure I have more trauma work to do, most of me hopes not. I just need to learn to keep the past in the past. Hard to learn how to do!

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  2. I have to say that reading this post was like looking in a mirror, one that was slightly off so the reflection wasn’t exact but with enough similarities to be both uncanny and unsettling. Reading how you have trained yourself to stay in the moment and live in that moment was really quite flooring as I had been talking with someone today about how if I hadn’t trained myself to do that exact same thing I would be lost to guilt and pain over things I could no longer change only accept. I know so many people who just sit and wait to feel better – go to therapy, take pills (prescribed or not) and wait for some great awakening to occur. The horribly unfair fact of life is your life won’t change unless you do and you won’t change unless you make yourself. Waiting does nothing nor is jumping up deciding to be better – you have to force yourself out of inertia, give yourself something to do from reading to blogging, craft …. well you get the idea whatever it takes to keep your mind in the here and the now and do it minute by minute, hour by hour day by day until it becomes your life and one filled with interests and projects and surprisingly with friends. Thank you for your post it means a lot to know there are people who truly understand the journey we take through life.

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    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Jenni! I’m glad the post brought a sense of knowing others go through the same things. Common humanity. My mindfulness practices have been key to me keeping it together, and to anyone who is down and out, I would suggest the same things you mentioned in your comment. I especially like, “You have to force yourself out of inertia.” 😀

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  3. All we can ever really do is try our best to be a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday, and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing. Embrace that idea instead of ruminating over the stumbles you made on the road to today. *HUGS*

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  4. There’s not much one can do to change one’s past. In my mind, the only reason for a look-back is to see if one is better off now than in the past. Hopefully if looking back, to realize lessons hard-learnt, take advantage of wisdom gained, and cast the rest into the past. There is no way for anyone to move, other than forward. Unless, of course, one would like to wallow awhile. 😉

    All the could’ve should’ve would’ve in the world doesn’t change anything, other than one’s happiness or misery level. When I look back at my Rosa, I think WOW, is she ever a strong and capable individual to overcome such adversities and move forward in positive manners. Give credit where due, learn from what didn’t work, and stride forward with a Yes.I.Can attitude. Appears to QoD yer doin’ quite well with it. xoxo

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