I have this great friend. Oh, we get in fights. Some of the most horrible fights you can ever imagine. We get completely pissed at each other, spend two or three days fighting and not talking, and then eventually at about the end of the third day we go “Can we still be friends?” If the answer is ever no, I know what it will be. We’ll just go our separate ways and never speak again. But we’ve always answered yes. Which is great in itself. Yet there’s another great part to it.
We never speak of what pissed us off again. Whoever made a mistake, whatever wrong thing was said, whatever thing wasn’t done or feeling that was hurt, is never brought up again. It’s over. It’s done with. It doesn’t exist. No bringing it up the next time we fight. No creating a scale of all the wrong things, just waiting for the last one to push it past the tipping point. No throwing it in the other person’s face.
I treasure this about my friend because it’s an amazing way to live. And it’s not how 95% of the world works.
If I have a big pet peeve about the world it’s grudges. Holding grudges. Throwing grudges in people’s faces. And I admit, I’m guilty of it too. I’m ashamed but I’m a major committer of this crime. Although I really am trying to not be anymore. Because I realize how much I hate it.
It’s hard enough trying to make yourself a better person without people reminding you “Remember that time you forgot to do something? Remember that really stupid, hurtful thing you said? Remember how much of an awful person you used to be? What makes you think you’re any different now?” Hard enough climbing back up a mountain after you’ve fallen without people throwing weights and chains on your back, dragging you back down. How are you supposed to become a better person if you’re constantly reminded by people of the mistakes you’ve made since the beginning of time?
I know because my anxiety is really awesome at throwing my sins back at me. I’m really great at holding my own grudges about myself.
What some people don’t understand about my anxiety is that I have a little highlight reel in my head. Of every stupid thing or social faux pas I’ve made in my entire life. I’m not kidding. I can remember things all the way back to elementary school, stupid things I did. Things that don’t even matter anymore. But they are there, stuck in my head, fresh as the day they happened. I hate this little highlight reel, but my anxiety doesn’t really care. It constantly plays the highlight reel, usually when it’s night and I’m trying to fall asleep and have nothing else to distract me from the display. So I don’t really need anyone to remind me of how stupid I’ve been or the dumb things I’ve done. Because my brain is more than happy to remind me of all of that over and over again.
It’s important to remember our mistakes so that we grow and try our best not to do them again. But there is a line. A line where constantly reminding someone of their mistakes only makes them make more mistakes. Makes them believe that there is no hope of becoming a better person. That they are just these mistakes and dumb ideas and failures. When they aren’t.
I fight the little highlight reel everyday. Everyday it tries to convince me that I’m this horrible person and I just shouldn’t even try. And everyday I tell it it’s stupid and to leave me alone. I’m not who I was. I’m growing stronger, better. Just because I failed yesterday doesn’t mean I’m going to fail today. Just because I let you down yesterday, means I’m going to work twice as hard to not do it today. And I may fall down. I may fail. Failure is a part of life. But it doesn’t mean I need to carry it around in my highlight reel for the rest of my life. It doesn’t mean I can’t climb back up and try again.
Carrying the negativity of the past only hurts a relationship. Whether that relationship is with yourself or another person. It’s like trying to grow a plant by stomping on it everyday. Not going to last very long. It dies pretty quickly. And if by some miracle it holds on, it grows pretty toxic.
I’m slowly learning to let go of my past. On letting the negativity fade away. The highlight reel will probably always be there, and that’s just something I’ll have to deal with. But I’m done carrying the weight of my past mistakes. It’s too exhausting. And I need to be free if I’m going to keep growing. Free from my past. I need to bury it and let it die. I need to stop stomping down my plant.