Embracing simplicity, leaving the past behind

Picture taken by my sister-in-law Heather Casey.

Friday was my youngest son’s 25th birthday, boy where has the time gone?  His father drove up to meet and ride down with me to celebrate.  It was good to  have an extra day this month to spend with my son and his family.

After an enjoyable visit my ex (yes we are still good friends) and I had a little quiet time to talk before he headed home.  He has been following my blog and asked me why I hadn’t talked about the pain I grew up with.  I first told him I didn’t feel the subject fit with my blog.  Then after sitting with the idea a while I realized it was very pertinent to how I live today.

I am not the only person to have been horribly abused as a child, sadly there are far too many of us walking around carrying the leftover remnants of those years.  I was fortunate to have people who looked out and did something to change the course of my life.  The result was that I ended up living my teen years with loving grandparents to show me life could be different.

That’s not to say I didn’t continue to carry the pain around with me.  I spent a few years trying to run away.  I believed if I moved as far as I could from my hometown I would be able to leave the pain behind.  It never works, you still bring with you yourself and the memories.

Sharing the taste of the garden

When I gave up trying to move away from the pain I still  hadn’t healed, I just tried to cover it up.  I tried to put on the picture of a perfect life.  One of the home, expensive belongings and pretty things.  But I was still the same person inside and couldn’t find a way to add a coat of varnish to the memories and nightmares that continued to plague me. Still I thought if I showed the world that I was successful no one would continue to feel sorry for me.

I have had plenty of times when I felt it was wrong of me to  have had my children because I had no real role model to show me how to be a mother.  I learned through  the experience of actually being a mother. I jokingly tell my boys they were one giant experiment in parenting.  But I would never trade a day of my life with them for any thing.  Maybe it’s because they knew I loved them no matter what state I was in or maybe it’s because of me but they turned out to be really great individuals in their own rights.

When my boys moved out to begin their adult lives I had already come to terms with most of the past and had even left the nightmares behind at some point. The memories became more like a movie about someone else than me.  I can recall them, but they no longer hurt.

I learned trust through the process of living and slowly, ever slowly, came to realize that the material possessions I had accumulated weren’t making my life any better.  I realized I didn’t need to put on a show for anyone, and could just be myself.

Watching the innocent pleasure of a plum

I realized at some point I actually liked the person I had become and didn’t want to hide it behind a facade any longer.  I was also ready to let go of relationships that weren’t healthy and supportive. It wasn’t easy but it’s been a wonderful growing experience.

So it became out with the old and in with the new.   Not just possessions, but everything that reminded me of those bad times.  There wasn’t much left, one item in particular I had held on to because I told myself it reminded me of good times.

It was a spoon holder which I had bought for my first home with  someone I loved deeply.  He treated me with all the love I had longed for and I wanted to hold on to that one item.  What I didn’t realize is that this item not only reminded me of love but also of loss.  I will never forget him and don’t need a daily reminder.  I passed that item along to some one else. And with that I finally left the past where it belongs,  in the past.

I was now free to start over.

Since I had desired  perfection for so long I now knew it didn’t exist, within me or the world.  Material possessions couldn’t make me happy.  But love, peace, and laughter could.  I had known certain things about myself, such as my dislike for a huge home. I enjoyed small spaces, but it went so far against the grain.  Finally after talking to my children and telling them what I wanted to do (and receiving only support from them) I was ready to make the biggest change of my life.  Embracing me!

I may have been extreme in wanting the good things, or maybe I just had a different reason for wanting them.  But I found I was annoyed with myself for falling for all the advertising telling me I had to have such and such to be happy.  NO I DIDN’T!

I may have been slow to learn what happiness truly is, but I know it now.   To continue to live in the past will take away the enjoyment of the present.  To hide behind material possessions will not make life better, and by hiding behind a mask will not bring you the results you are seeking.

Constantly changing views outside my home

The only way to be happy is to embrace those things that make you happy and to the best of our abilities leave behind those things that don’t.  What are those things?  For me the answer became clear:  family, good friendships, and time to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life, you know taking time to smell the roses.  The answer for me was to embrace wanting a small home and living true to those values I held dear deep inside myself.

What makes you happy.

10 thoughts on “Embracing simplicity, leaving the past behind

  1. I can really identify with this post. I was raised by a mother who wasn’t physically abusive, but in a psychological/emotional sense she beat me to a pulp on a daily basis. She spent a lot of time ridiculing me and saying terribly hurtful things with a big smile on her face – I guess in her mind if you were smiling then somehow it “didn’t count.” It was like she couldn’t face how angry she was, so she figured if she wrapped up all her anger in a pretty package with a big bow and handed it to me, somehow it would be the same as love – which, of course, it wasn’t.

    I was a pretty miserable child, but finally in college I got far enough away from her to be able to see what was happening and have pretty much refused to allow her to treat me that way since. This means I don’t have much of a relationship with my mother. I spent many, many years feeling very sorry for myself, and wishing that I’d had a loving mother who made me feel cared about – but in a funny way I’ve come to a place where I’m actually grateful for the experience.

    Somehow it all allowed me to see that just because something looks nice and pretty on the outside, doesn’t mean that it IS nice and pretty on the inside. Once I was able to walk away from that abusive relationship, it made it so much easier for me to to reject the other false idols that our society holds up for us to worship – like money, and “success” and fashion, and the countless other happiness impostors that constantly surround us. Having my eyes opened in that way was a tremendous gift, painful though it may have been.

    • I couldn’t agree more. It’s sad your mother couldn’t see what a gift you were to her and the world, but it opened your eyes to other things most people don’t see. It’s the same for me. My grandmother wanted me to see her as a mother, but I had no concept of what that relationship was supposed to be like and couldn’t do it. I had friends who called my grandmother gram, and mom, but I felt that title was somehow disrespectful to the feelings I felt for others in a parental position and never called any one else mom.

      On the other side of things, I had two sons, and many of their friends call me mom to this day. For me it became a compliment, and I’m glad I went through what I did so I could be a better person.

  2. i am glad to read this post, its an interesting one. i am always searching for quality posts and articles and this is what i found here, i hope you will be adding more in future. thanks

  3. This post really hit home with me. I too was abused, only I became trapped by it. I spent so many years trying to buy a perfect life. Sadly even in the ‘healing,’ and ‘spiritual,’ world there are too many people willing to sell, ‘the answers to all your problems.’
    I am still finding my way in life, but I know that I do not need to buy my happiness. I am happier with the simple things in life than anything a shop can sell me

    • I am so sorry for what you went through. I too bought all the self-help books and sought help in all places except inside myself. I too came to the same discovery after too many years that healing wasn’t in a store or able to be purchased with credit cards. I hope you find your peace sooner in life than I did.

  4. A beautiful post.
    I live half way around the world, and have had a different journey to you, but have arrived at the same place. Family, good friendships and time to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life by living in the present.
    You are truly rich now.

    • Thank you, I think if we got to know more people who lived near us we would find more than enough inspiration to go around for all of us. I know I did. It was those people who happened to enter my life at moments I needed to meet them, to learn from them.

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