Artwork created and provided by Lottie Ellis Art.
For most of my life there was an innate part of me that told me not to trust myself. Not one bit of me. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t know how to.
Over time, I’ve ignored this feeling. And each and every time, it took time for me to believe my first instincts – when I should have known to trust myself. But as time always does, it teaches you what you failed to see before. It keeps teaching you, too, until you open your eyes and your heart to what you’re supposed to see. There’s always that reality you denied yourself that eats away at you near the end of deceit.
I can say that hindsight has been my most faithful friend. I have learned that trusting myself is where I am supposed to begin – I can’t trust the world around me until I can trust myself. It’s the knowing where I should have always been that shows me where to go.
More recently than not, my life shifted. It wasn’t the first time. The change for that to happen, didn’t happen all at once. But it never does. Things take time, and change, well it takes a little longer. But it’s the shift that comes with change that I always remember more profoundly.
I remember each time change began. The daily repetitions that began to bore me, also began to hit harder with time.
When our routines become repetitious, mundane and expected, is the exact time to pay attention. Paying attention is the part that most people don’t do. When we accept that we deserve no better than what we have, is the exact and precise moment to understand that we deserve more.
I know that have I not lived my life moving forward, I’d never be able to understand it when looking back. I know if I had ever stopped moving forward, there’d be nothing to look back on to see. However, I am also aware that in order to keep moving forward, I can’t keep turning around to look back. If I keep turning around, my only progress will be in circles.
I have taken from every moment that I have doubted myself and I have applied those lessons accordingly. I understand my doubts were created by my fears and I have accepted them all. It is in the acceptance of my doubts that resulted in failure each time, where I learned that each one was intentionally placed as I kept moving forward.
Hindsight tells me that without one or any of those failures, my moving forward would have ceased. At each instant that I became complacent, that’s where I found change. And it took change for me to meet those shifts, face-to-face. During each shift, some force pulled me away from myself and from that place where I existed, bringing me to a newly formed and reshaped version of the girl that was there before.
Oddly, for my lifetime, I’d kept track of each time I fell, kept tallies and counted and recounted them often. Each step I remembered as I fell, stayed with me. The dust that formed as I hit the ground, the difficulty in catching my breath, the wallowing in self-pity and defeat, the dirt that layered itself on top of me as it settled, my streaked face as I cried – the act and acknowledgment of being broken is hard to eradicate from my mind. Brokenness felt permanent as it adhered itself to me after falling. Each and every time.
But here, in the here and now, I know I fell because of change. Changing made those shifts happen for me. In an instant, the tears dried and the filth of what I’d succumbed to around me, as well as who I’d become while I wallowed there, is exactly the moment when my shift would arrive.
Get up. Get up and get on with it. Move away from it. Run.
I realize now that each time I got back up, those are the steps that saved me. The steps I took are the ones I used to get away from the then. Each one of those steps I took as I ran has brought me to the here and now. Without them, I’d still be stuck.
It’s the here and now that I hold on to the hardest. There is no part of today that would exist if all of the yesterdays didn’t precede it. Had I ever stayed down, I’d still exist in the then, I’d still be in yesterday. I wouldn’t have anything to look back on and I’d have no recollection of each shift that followed change.
Falling down hurts and it isn’t easy, but falling down is necessary. The girl I once knew is unrecognizable now. I remember her moments, her feelings, the pain she felt when she’d fall. But each shift brought about by change, allows me to detach from the her that existed before. With each and every one of them, I can let go a little bit more. She’s a part of yesterday. And no part of yesterday exists in today.
All of the times I refused to trust myself, I now see every time I turned from her. Some part of her knew it would all happen this way. She’d push and I’d resist. I can look back now though and I know that she saved me. It was her that made me get up every single time that I fell. She was my biggest cheerleader, my number one fan.
I know every word that she spoke as she said them, I know the fears she had as she felt them, I am well aware of the hatred that spilled over on to her and surrounded her – without knowing what I know now, I’d still be there.
Each step now that I take forward, I remember each instant when she pulled me back up. She always pushed me to make me take that first step. I hold on to that – the split second that her hope was strong enough to bring that moment. It was almost simultaneous in action. The small changes would creep in and build up, until that moment arrived for a shift to occur.
Shifting is more of a sudden action than change. It’s quick, and if you let it slip by you, you’ll most likely regret it. Yet it happens so fast that you’ll miss it if you don’t know it’s coming. It’s as though the ground is shaken and reshaped. It’s easy to lose footing when where you’ve been standing is no longer the same. It’s when we stand on unfamiliar ground that we are faced with two options – to retreat or to run.
The shadows get bigger and darkness is more prevalent where it never was before. But it’s the shift itself that gives us the option to move. Without the realization for what change brings, a shift will make you retreat. It’s easy to mistake change for fear when we fail to see why it’s happening.
It’s too easy to retreat back to what we know.
As change occurs, we learn to recognize it. Where we were once unsure, we become aware. Whatever the decision was before, in our choosing to retreat or run, afterwards, we become aware of the result of what can happen in an instant. Over time, change becomes less and less about fear. With time, change shows us that there will come a point, just like before, when a choice will have to be made.
We begin to prepare for it. The more we prepare for it, the more we can anticipate it. The more we learn to accept what it offers, the more we begin to trust the unknown. The unknown is what takes us away from the familiar. The unknown is where we must rely on our trust. It’s the ability to see that unfamiliarity is just a sign that we are heading in the right direction, that makes us aware of change when it begins.
We are taught to rely on others as we grow up. It’s a shame really that no one takes the time to look at the one place where trust must be before we can search for it elsewhere. When we depend on the external, we live in disappointment. When we rely on what’s around us, we lose. When we fail to see ourselves for who we are, it’s impossible to see anything else for what it really is.
We know from experience, too, that trust isn’t easy. Not in any moment that we have ever lost trust do we look for it expectantly after that – because after losing it we expectantly doubt it’s arrival. Each time we rely on trust, we do so with an uncertainty. But we never find it if we never try.
We are taught that trust is earned. We are taught that trust is given. We are taught that when we receive something, it comes from someone or somewhere else. But I think that’s just fear getting in the way. And fear is a liar. Trust isn’t so specific.
The thing with trust is in knowing where to find it. After falling so many times we can begin to see a pattern. That’s what patterns are, aren’t they? They’re just a repetition of the same thing.
I know who was there for each fall I’ve had. I know who was there each time I got up. Over time, I learned to depend on her. She was the one I needed the most. She is the one I had to learn to trust. After each fall brought about by change and at each moment when a shift arrived – she was there. She’ll always be there, some part of her is forever imbedded in me, even if just as an echo. She taught me what no one else could.
I’ve learned to trust myself.
Change is messy, it’s brutal, and it can hurt. Change knocks us down over time. After falling down so many times, we can expect that pain will follow. Without the pain, there would be no change. Without knowing we can change, we would fail to see beyond anything that hurts. Pain changes people so much that it’s often avoided. But it is after we feel pain that the healing begins.
With time we learn how to deal with pain. We learn look forward to those moments when we can choose to remain or to run.
Over time, we learn to trust ourselves. There’s no secret to repetition – it just repeats. And it’ll all keep repeating until we realize where trust must first exist. But that’s the thing about trust – without losing it, we’d never know how to get it.
Trust takes time just the same as change.
Maybe instead of being swallowed in doubt, it’s more important to know that each time we fall, we’ve been there before – there is always a time before. But maybe, just maybe, those small instances, those exact moments when we know we can remain or run, maybe we’re supposed to take them. Maybe they are just enough to bring exactly what we need.
When I began to accept that it’s okay to not know, is when I trusted myself to do just that – to run instead of remain. In any moment before the here and now, without trust I’d be stuck in yesterday. Without trust I would have never changed. Without accepting the opportunity to change, I’d be boring, stuck and afraid. Hell, I’d still be lying there where I fell. I’d still be broken and the same.
I had to trust someone. I trust me.