You have been coping as best you can— and there is no shame in it.
In fact, you’ve been quite successful— at survival.
You’ve made it through. You’re here. You’re reading this.
A lot of the time, we are made to feel shame about what we’ve had to do to survive.
We’re told we did it “wrong.”
We’re told that because we chose coping mechanisms that ended up being harmful to ourselves our our relationships, we are failures.
It is not the case that you are a failure— even if parts of your life have been painful, and even if you have contributed to that pain with some of the choices you’ve made.
The truth is, we do the best we can with what we have.
If we’ve made choices that have resulted in pain, we did so because we did not see or feel able to make decisions that would result tin less pain.
Maybe we were scared.
Maybe we thought our options were limited.
Maybe we’d never gotten the kind of role modeling and mentoring we’d have needed to make “better” decisions.
Maybe we didn’t believe ourselves to be the “kind” of person we’d need to be to make “better” decisions.
Maybe we didn’t even have an idea of what a “better” decision would even look like.
I guarantee you: nobody cuts themselves, or abuses substances, or otherwise behaves self-destructively because they are thrilled that those are their options.
We behave self-destructively because those are the options we think we have— and the options we think we deserve.
Nobody asks for that mindset. Nobody tries to wind up in that position.
You did not make a choice to be at that level of desperation and despair.
Chances are, you FOUND yourself there.
You might have even been told that you “deserved” to be there, because of how “bad” you are.
Then, along come people who supposedly want to help make our lives better…and they reinforce the idea that we are bad by focusing on the poor quality “choices” we made.
When I was at my most self-destructive, I didn’t see it as a “choice.”
I didn’t feel I had the option to behave differently— to do so would require me to be a “better” person than I believed I was, and to “deserve” better than I believed I deserved.
We make better choices when we see better choices.
We make better choices when we believe we can make better choices.
We strive for better lives when we believe we deserve and can realistically create better lives.
What happened in the past is in the past— and it is a product of who we were at the time.
We did not ask for the circumstances we found ourselves in. Even if our choices helped create those circumstances, we did not do so because we were excited and happy about creating painful situations.
You do not require forgiveness for your past choices.
You made the choices you perceived to be available to you.
You didn’t know what you didn’t know. You couldn’t do what you didn’t believe yourself able to do.
Your options were limited by what you believed and what you’d had modeled.
You do not require forgiveness for things that happened to you.
You do not have to apologize for not having what you didn’t have.
You did the best you could, then.
Now it’s time to do the best you can…now.
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