Monday, August 27, 2012
Gently Put Away Pain and Fear of Past Challenges
As a kid, I'd had eye troubles. My eyes would not track across a page of text, find the next line, and move on. I'd lose my place at the end of each line, have to find what was read, find the next line, read it, and repeat. The muscles in the eyes just would not coordinate. It cost me two years of schooling to get those eyes straightened out. Well, I was in school, but learning what was offered with my very slow reading speed was challenging at the very best. Yet, as a kid, I refused to believe this issue in any way impacted upon my intellect or my ability to learn. I saw the bad grades associated with my struggles as signs of my own faults (laziness, lack of gumption, whatever you want to call it) and I was ashamed. As a result, I didn't come into my own in school until my junior year of high school. From second grade until eleventh feeling shame and refusing to admit my eyes had been in any way contributing to the problem. That's a lot of years of needless guilt. Let me tell you this. You carry that around with you decades later. It does not go away easily.
But the counselors put it in perspective for me. They pointed out what an achievement it was to go from someone who could not read well to someone who not only loves to read but writes for a living as something quite close to astonishing. I had never thought of it that way. I finally gave myself permission to both accept the struggle for what it was and to look and see how far I'd come from those early years and all I'd accomplished despite those lost years and the struggles throughout that period.
Now I can gently put away that pained child and the fears he felt, packing them back into the past where they belong. I'll move forward reminding myself just how far I've come and all I've done since and feel ready for the next challenges to come down the line rather than feeling shame for what was in the past that I had very little control over anyway. It's time to move forward.
Is there anything in your life from long ago that still burdens you? Have you stopped to think how far you've come since then and all you've managed to accomplish in spite or because of those struggles?
And, if you know and love a child who is currently struggling, tell them to take heart. They too can accomplish much in the future. Tell them a short version of my story if you think it will help.
Have a blessed day, free from the burdens of the past.
My heartfelt thanks to the good counselors in Massachusetts for the wonderful work that they do in such a caring way.
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