I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

I wasted a lot of personal happiness over the years by worrying and stressing over and getting angry about trivial things. I complained a lot. I mean A LOT. Nothing was ever my fault and there was always someone else to blame for whatever misfortune landed at my feet. And I was selfish.

Eventually, that morphed into being nobody’s fault but my own horrible luck and the way things would always be for me. I let it consume me. I was resistant to anything I didn’t like or wasn’t comfortable with, and to change the way I thought life should be was just stupid. It’s like I thought that being pissed off and spouting my venom (opinions) out into the world would shift things back into my favor.

It didn’t.

I wish I could say that I learned this lesson early on, but it’s only been within the last ten years that it has really sunk in. I made a lot of really stupid mistakes in my young, naive life. A lot. (Stupid isn’t strong enough of a word for it, to be honest.) A few of you would probably have to pick your jaws up off the ground if you knew what I’ve done, and I still feel shame when I think about some of those things even after all these years.

We may not like the way things seem to be going for us (I’m speaking generally here), but it’s our reaction to it that tips the tables one way or the other. I wish I’d figured that out a long, long time ago (like when I was in my early twenties before I enlisted in the AF). All those mistakes I made and lessons I learned (the hard way) were pieces of myself I was collecting along the way. I could be pissed off right now, angry at God for throwing that big wrench in my perfect plans last November when He decided it was a good time for a Grand Mal seizure, but there’s no benefit in that for me. Yes, it weighs on me and yes, I blame myself for our struggles, but it happened. Every day I try to make a point to consider they why: maybe I’m supposed to be focusing on my book right now, or maybe I’m supposed to be here at home so I can be here whenever the boys need me. I should get my license back in May and then we can go from there. I try to look for the silver linings like sunny mornings on the back deck with the birds and a good book, or the time I get to spend with IMAlive talking with people who find themselves in the middle of their own personal crisis (and hopefully helping them), living in a neighborhood that is walk-friendly, having family nearby for the first time in 10 years, …and now I’m rambling.

If you’re still reading this, thank you. I wouldn’t have blamed you for scrolling by! I don’t know what made me want to write it tonight. Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite lost but kind of ‘adrift’. Even so, I’m so glad I got my temper under control because life is so much more bearable this way. Even when the kids push those buttons, I’m in a place now where I can gather my emotions for a minute and ‘simmer down’ before reacting in an explosive manner like I would have done in the past. I’m still finding out who I am.

I think that’s what they mean when they say “Life is a journey”. It’s not so much about where you go with your life, but who you become inside. It’s recognizing and collecting those pieces of you that happen along the way from all things good and bad. I guess my whole point is: if you’re the kind of person whose temper is quick to flare up like I was, own it. Acknowledge it. Get familiar with that side of you and figure out if that’s who you really want to be. Figure out whether that tight feeling in your chest and the tension in your head is worth the anger because you will not get those moments back.

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