Writing has always provided me solace. It has always helped me overcome all the overwhelming emotions in my life.
My earliest memory in elementary school was being severely bullied. The other kids would call me Niner because I was always one year younger than everyone else and they discovered that truth when I was nine.
They called Connie because my first name is Conrad. They called me pumpkin because I was poor and fat and only grew up having only one orange Old Navy sweater that I wore till it started tearing at the seams.
Every day I was humiliated.
I lost a very significant person my life recently. Because of my self-destructive tendencies, she had enough and left me.
She was my most significant and impactful relationship I have ever had.
I learned so much.
1) It’s okay to be vulnerable
I have always buried my darkness inside of me. I seldom shared everything that has happened in my past—dysfunctional family life, alcoholism, frequent domestic abuse and aggressive bullying.
I had harbored endless amounts of shame and guilt about my darkness. I told myself early on this would not define me and it would not affect me. If I smiled and pretended everything was okay, eventually it will be okay.
If people knew, they would judge me and I’d be even more of an outcast.
You can only bury so much before people feel disconnected. People aren’t meant to be happy all the time. And here I was, apparently, happy all the time.
She felt disconnected.
She asked. So I shared.
I poured out my heart and soul. I felt all that guilt and shame build up even higher. In that moment, instead of feeling judged and ridiculed, I felt heard and appreciated.
It takes a powerful person to accept you for your darkness and she did. She taught me that it is okay to share.
2) Value comes from within
We all lie. If you deny that, you are lying.
There are different lies we can tell at any given moment—white lies, broken promises, the lie of fabrication, the lie of exaggeration, and the lie of deception.
I was afraid to be myself. Truly, I didn’t like myself. I didn’t value my own being. So I compensated.
My weapon was the lie of deception. The lie of deception is creating an impression to hide or mislead someone into thinking differently about you.
I created false identities, created fake relationships and stories in the vain attempt to be someone that I wasn’t.
Lies kept on building until the relationship exploded.
I have learned value must erupt from within. If you do not truly love and appreciate yourself for who you are, what you’ve gone through, and what you stand for, no amount of external love or money will make you feel whole.
3) Learn to forgive (yourself)
We all make mistakes. As humans, we are prone to mistakes.
We time travel and grow ever depressed when we think about the things in the past. We replay all our old struggles and beat ourselves up endlessly, wishing that it had worked out another way.
Wishing in some way, things could have just been better.
I replay that one moment over and over again and continue to scream at myself, “HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO STUPID!”
Those ill thoughts manifest into the emotions I hate feeling—depression, anger, confusion— and feeling utterly helpless not being able to change the negative thought patterns.
I realized at some point I have to let go. How long will you hold on to these patterns? How long will you allow yourself to feel uncomfortable?
It is okay to feel all those ‘negative’ emotions. We should feel an entire spectrum of emotions, but at some point we have to let go. At some point, we have to pull ourselves up and continue on with life.
Not forgiving yourself is like picking at an open wound; you are only making the bad situation worse. The wound is already there, but you can choose how you react to it and you can stop it from getting worse.
If you forgive yourself for a mistake, it becomes easier to face the consequences in a productive way.
I remember her saying; ‘sometimes people are in your life just to teach you things. And when you are done learning, they leave,’ just as she walked out of my life.
I understand now. I learned so much from elementary school. I learned so much from the first relationship, and then, my second. I learned so much from my last.
Everything that happens in your life has a lesson ingrained within it.
The hand you are dealt shapes who you are. Every test, relationship, obstacle and reward you face changes you.
Looking back, I am thankful for the horrible times I endured.
I love who I am and who I am growing in to.