Relish It And Move On
Looking back on the past can either be an enjoyable experience or a painful one. Sometimes the glance back to the past is merely that – a glance. You do not dwell on it, you simply have a peek and that peek has no particular effect on you.
Christmas signifies many things for me. It might be the same for you. One of the most significant things about the season is that it means the bells are tolling on yet another year. Recently, I shared my New Year’s Eve activity to create a vision board for the year to come. For several years now, by choice mainly, I have been single and based on where my heart is at now, that might very well be the case for years to come. In my former life, Christmas and New Year’s Eve night were not just for family celebrations but opportunities to dress up and go out on the town with my partner of the time. I have great memories of those days, parties and balls but that is not my life or way now.
The past is a beautiful thing if we learn the lessons, hold the memories and allow them to enhance our present living. Some grieve the past, have regrets or wish it was different. I am not one of them. Approaching the end of another year and thinking about my vision board for 2016, I am taking a peek on my past. What follows is a recycled post that was first published in January of 2008 – at a time when I had examined my past and made some decisions about my future – specifically in the context of dating and relationships.
This is something that you are invited to do with me – reflect on your year to make the new one even brighter. My recently published E-Book, Before This Year Ends, can support you with that. Before you download your copy, come with me back to 2008 for some inspiration how to make your past your best tool in 2016.
A Woman With A Past
It was another Sunday morning that I woke up to, not another human face on the pillow next to me but to Angello, my dog. If he was not sick and slowly leaving my life this scenario would probably be depressing. Who wants to wake up to a dog every darn morning?
As a child growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, I heard and sang along with a particular song by the National Folk Singers. At the time, the significance of the words did not truly resonate with me – now they do. All the words of the song escape me but the vital ones I recall are:
“Before me go married and go hug up mango tree…mi’, mi’ will live so mi’ one!”
Despite the seeming ‘sadness’ of my waking up to my dog – as the song says – it was much preferable to being ‘married’ and unhappy. I kissed my companion good morning then looked at the books on my night table that were helping me through the new experience of being single. To this day, I have a tendency to read several books at the same time and three were on my bedside table:
- Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach
- The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen R. Covey
The first two I was reading maybe for the third or fourth time but this is my first read of Covey’s. All three books had a common theme – one that I recognize as applicable to the single life.
Once upon a time – I hope – it was an horrible thing to be single. Women over a certain age (20) without a partner (read as man) were considered ‘spinsters’ – what an awful word? Until the advent of the pill and the later sexual revolution – a woman of my age (40+) and status (single, divorced or widowed) would be put out to roost.
This has changed a lot and women like myself, especially those over 40, are somewhat celebrated for their ability to live their lives fully with or without a partner. That made me excited to read Breathnach’s book that really is a collection of essays and my favourite was “Becoming a Woman with a Past.” It had me saying “Amen, Alleluia!”
Alluring, Intriguing And Powerful
I am a Woman with a Past and so is every one of you who has survived life challenges – in their various forms. Breathnach writes: “There is nothing more alluring, intriguing, and romantic than being perceived as a woman with a past. Except, of course, knowing that you are one, which makes you glorious. Magnificent. Powerful.”
I love it! The thought and more so the knowledge that I am (and you are) a Woman with a Past is so empowering it is almost scary. In fact, it is scary for many who meet you. Well, that has been my experience at least. If you are single, potential dates do not know what the hell to make of you. What do you do or say to a woman who enters a room knowing that she is glorious, magnificent and powerful – wounds and all?
My experience has been varied – in person, on the phone or through internet dating sites. However, several things are common. And this is where Ruiz book comes in. He calls what others do – those who do not know what to do with a woman with a past – as shooting their poisoned arrows at you. They try to change you in some way or another, from their place of fear and brokenness – although they would never admit this.
“You are too this; you are too that; you shouldn’t say this; you should be like that,” are just some of the things they will shoot at you to convince you that you have no right to be glorious, magnificent or powerful. Ruiz advice to you/me – Women with a Past – is this:
“…accept yourself and love yourself just the way you are. You are what you are, and that is all you are. You don’t need to pretend to be something else.”
Since stepping out as a single woman with a past, there have been so many opportunities for me to fall back into the old trap – distrusting who I am meant to be. As a single person on the proverbial market, everyone wants to have a piece of you – in more ways than one. That include family, friends and even employers who feel that because you are single, you have all the time, money or anything else they need, to give to them unquestioningly. I remember a minister back in Jamaica once saying that if you give everyone a piece of you – what will you have left for yourself? “Nothing,” would be my response.
Live In Your Loudest Voice
Covey’s book is written largely with a management focus in mind; however, as he noted, the principles can and ought to be applied to daily living and relationships. I read this one slowly because of this comprehensive approach – figuring out how to “walk” these principles in all areas of my life.
One point that grabbed my attention had to do with expressing one’s voice. Covey taught that you must find your own voice – meaning your own style of expressing your uniqueness – then help others to do the same. Part of being able to do this is living by your conscience – you know that still small voice in all of us that whispers to you when you are supporting life or destroying it. This is what Covey wrote:
“People who do not live by their conscience will not experience …internal integrity and peace of mind. They will find their ego attempting to control relationships. Even though they might pretend or feign kindness and empathy from time to time, they will use subtle forms of manipulation and will even go so far as to engage in kind but dictatorial behaviours.”
Reading this, I first had to admit my past to myself – “been there, done that.” After releasing the negative energies contained in my memory of the past and asking for forgiveness, I was then able to see how this played out over the course of my life up to that point.
As a Woman with a Past, claiming your voice, you become acutely aware of the “players,” past and present. You were probably one so you recognize the behaviours – your conscience will not allow you to ignore them. Their talk is sweet. They pretend to have it all together and that you are a nincompoop because you speak your truth openly and without hesitation. See, you are not afraid of your past – not anymore. Their wish, however, is that you would just shut up and just do as they say or recommend because they have ‘stuff’ and you do not.
My question, one that I suggest you pose as well, to them has been – “Who told you that I want to be a mini-you?”
What I have learned in all these years is this: Our past is ours to own. It is what has made us priceless. So do not sell yourself short! Do not let yourself be manipulated or silenced again. Do not settle – because you woke up to your dog! Approaching the end of another year, whatever your marital status, this is the time to:
- Get still and do your excavating
- Create your personal understanding of what it means to love and be loved
- Live your voice
My passionate choice is to be the glorious, magnificent and powerful Me – a woman with a past, creating her future in this and every moment. What is yours? Do share with me in the comments below. Feel free to name a book or two that you use at this time of the year to get you centered and ready to launch your New Year.
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