Allowing myself to reflect on the past is sometimes quite emotional. I can reflect on the past 8 years much better than I can the past 15. Reflecting on life before my trauma is still quite upsetting. I think back to the person I was and how much innocence and joy I had. Pure, 100% pure and raw innocence. I've lost it all. I have nothing left and that's hard for me.
The other day I was thinking about high school. High school was not an easy time for me, infact, all through elementary school, junior high and high school was hard because I was bullied. I'm a survivor of bullying and when I look back on that part of my life, it hurts to think that even though it was hard, I was still innocent to life. Most of us were back then. We were shielded from the reality of life, of all that it could bring our way. I think of the happiness and crazy shenanigans I got into with friends and my boyfriend. I think about the relationships I had and who I was.
I know people change, everyone in high school has changed and none of us are the same. That's a part of life. I will not be this person 5 years from now. I'm hoping I'm not even this person in a year from now. I have new dreams and goals and hope. I have a plan on how to get to them and achieve them. I'm still working on the living while working on it phase, but nonetheless, they are there. I wouldn't be the same person from high school even without all my trauma but it is very hard for me to accept all that I have lost.
I don't know what brought me to reflect back to my high school days tonight, but it did. I sat and I thought. I thought of who that person was. I looked at pictures and tried to connect and something made me realize why I can't, or I have such trouble with eye contact. When I was looking back through my pictures, I looked into my eyes and its what I saw that set me back. I really struggle with eye contact, it partly has to do with social anxiety, but I have been working on it and am getting better. I even struggle with people I know. It makes me uncomfortable and I think it's because I'm afraid of what I will see. The same applies when I look in the mirror. I'm afraid of what I will see or even worse, what others will see in me. I'm afraid of what I see in myself.
To me, looking in someone's eyes, even oneself, is opening a small door into their soul. It's opening vulnerability and for someone who has lost all innocence, being vulnerable can be challenging. Putting oneself into that position is quite often avoided. It brings a high level of discomfort and just like confrontation, we tend to shy away from it at almost any length.
Reflecting on the past opens up that vulnerability in its own way. We become vulnerable to our memories and emotions of the past and feel the sense of sadness and loss over how we use to be. Even guilt can creep into past reflections. Looking at pictures I see the depth of my loss, I didn't just lose and bury Ty and Jacob. I lost and buried me. I buried my hopes, dreams goals, I buried my joy, innocence, outlook on life, morales, values. When I reflect, the magnitude of what I lost becomes almost insurmountable. It's heavy. When I reflect and look into those innocent eyes, my heart hurts. It hurts for what has happened and what continues to happen. Further innocence and joy has been ripped from me. All that I thought I knew is changing again. New "firsts" I have to get through, new traditions, new lifestyles, everything is so new and uncharted. I am in a very vulnerable state, as are most people who are on a new journey, people who are seeking to heal themselves. We face vulnerability with uncertainty but we face it nonetheless. We reflect on the paths that got us to these points, we reflect on the people we use to be for some parts of us wish to go back. We realize it wasn't as hard as it is now, even with all that happened back then, we still held onto innocence and joy. Those are almost unreachable at this point. Innocence is something you can never gain back, it's impossible. Joy, however, that is possible.
For some it may be hard work, for others it may come naturally. Joy is an emotion and anyone who reads this blog constantly knows what I say about emotions, you can't choose them. You can surround yourself with positive thoughts and people and maybe that will allow you to reach the feeling of joy. There is hope there.
As for the impossible, once innocence is gone, it is gone for good. At this point it's more about accepting it and finding the place within you to set it aside. Reflecting on it can cause feelings of sadness, frustration, anger or guilt because innocence was powerful. It gave us certain beliefs, it helped shape us and when that was ripped away through trauma, it destroyed who we were and what we believe. I don't nor will I ever get my innocence back but I have been able to form new beliefs based on what I have learned on my journey. Losing my innocence has on some level deepened my connection with myself. It has forced me to think and to contemplate, It has given me a deeper understanding of life and what I value.
As hard as it is to acknowledge that I will never get my innocence back, it relates to my post a few days back, I'm at a place of acceptance. I have accepted I will never be complete or perfect, no one ever will be and that is okay. Losing my innocence fits into this part of acceptance but honestly, it's a tough one to accept. It holds so much power and to give that up, hand it over without a fight, it's not easy.
When I reflect on the past 8 years, it's easy because I didn't have innocence, it had been taken from me. I see that woman living those years as they passed by, a lost soul, a heartbroken soul, someone who didn't have a clear path. New firsts and new journeys were taken year after year. I feel sad for her. I see her and I can look into her eyes because I can relate so much more to her then the girl 15 years ago. That girl, she had innocence, she had a life I do not remember, a life I will never gain back. I have to accept that it's okay. Accepting things we cannot change gives one more power which creates a freeing feeling. It lightens the load.
Perhaps once I accept it, once I know who I am now, maybe looking into others eyes won't be so challenging. Maybe I won't have to be afraid of what I see, or what I worry they see in me or what I see in myself. Maybe once I accept the innocence is gone forever and that it's okay, reflecting will not be so heavy and sad. Maybe one day I will be able to look in a mirror and for the first time see me as I really am, vulnerability and all.
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