My dysfunctions have been with me all of my adult life. However, conditions like depression, compulsion and trauma from childhood were not clearly known to me until the last ten years. When I began to ask “why” particular behaviors came over me in certain circumstances and situations, a true effort to educate myself started. In trying to understand some of my actions, I read book after book after book.
My studies were primarily two-fold: 1) about human behavior and why we do the things we do 2) about religion and how spirituality affects a person. Over several years I became fairly well-educated in the realm of psychology and generally knowledgeable about the origins of a wide number of religions and the spiritual practices that grew out of them. After all this time I was smarter and quite a bit kinder to others, but inside I was not a whole lot better.
Of particular attraction to me were some of the basic tenants of Buddhism. There I found direction about learning to live a better life contained within the “Eightfold Noble Path”.
This on top of the “Ten Commandments” of Christianity became a sort of roadmap for improving the quality my existence. Other teachings of Buddha helped me as well such as I was not my thoughts and how my constantly chattering mind can at times create insane lines of thinking. Having these insights made me more knowledgeable and I did get better, just not enough to overcome my demons.
…The problems of the mind cannot be solved on the level of the mind. Once you have understood the basic dysfunction there isn’t really much else that you need to learn or understand. Studying the complexities of the mind may make you a good psychologist, but doing so won’t take you beyond the mind, just as the study of madness isn’t enough to create sanity… From the second chapter of Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”
What Tolle wrote explains well the dilemma I ended up lost within. Alone, I could not fix myself. I needed help. In some ways I wish I could say that realization came to me easily, but it didn’t. It took the ending of a marriage I did not want to be over and coming to face to face with the reasons why that were my responsibility. What I came to know is all of my romantic relationships had suffered because of childhood issues that had never been dealt with. It was like being hit in the head with a ‘two by four” that brought me to my knees determined to recover.
When the pain to stay the same, exceeded the pain to change, I sought help and truly began to grow and change. There is nothing particularly admirable about it. I simply felt I had no other choice.
Today life is pretty darn good and certainly better than ever before. Am I “fixed”? No, far from it. But I am a lot better and as the months pass, I continue to grow. The past is past, but I recall it differently today as containing my greatest lessons. With true positive anticipation and hope for the future, I am grateful to be where I am!
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past.
A healed memory is not a deleted memory.
Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget
creates a new way to remember.
We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
Lewis B. Smedes