I think it’s important to take the time to reflect. To reflect on where you’ve been, who you are, and how you became what you are currently. No matter how busy you are, no matter how crazy your life is, no matter what pressing issues are at hand, it is always important to take the time to reflect. It doesn’t have to be an hour. It doesn’t have to be half an hour. It just has to be time. To think. To reflect on YOU. To remember. To understand.
Sometimes it’s painful to remember what you’d rather forget. Other times, it’s angering. Often it is surreal, as though the past represented a different human being than the one you are today. It makes no difference what reflection provokes, because no matter what, what is created is real emotion. You don’t want to deny yourself real emotion, however intense or painful. It presents itself for a reason and you owe it to yourself to listen to it, to experience it, and to acknowledge it.
Sometimes, when the reflection is done, you’ll feel a little lighter, a little better, and even like you’ve gone another step farther.
It gets easier the more you do it. By hiding the past, by covering it up, smiling about where you’re at now, and moving on, you are setting yourself up for problems in the future. By forgetting your struggle you are not erasing the pain, you are smoothing cement over it—and it will always grow through the cracks in cement again, even if it takes years.
Be aware. Don’t wallow in the past, of course! But don’t cover it up as though it never happened. If you had a child who died, you would be in pain, but you wouldn’t pretend your child never existed to make yourself feel better. You would remember, and slowly go through the grieving process, and manage to live again. Even if you did pretend the child never existed, it would be only a temporary solution. Something, at some time, would inevitably remind you of the child who passed away, or of the pain you felt.
You have to work with pain. It’s an ugly lump of clay. Work with it. Make it into something good.
In the spirit of reflection, I’ll openly reflect here.
I just got married. I feel on top of the world and very comforted. I am content. It strikes me as quite a contrast to what I used to be a few years ago. My mind inevitably dips back to college, recalls friends and fun and wonderful nights of laughter and love. Then I remember that despite all the great times, I was miserable. Below the surface, below the unforgettable college days, below the fond memories and sweet times with friends, I was miserable.
Some knew it, some didn’t. Some saw the mask of carefree happiness slip over my face of mental pain. For all the happy college memories I have, I also have as many terrible ones. Furthermore, a wonderful day of friends and fun, though undeniably good, never negated the inner turmoil I was feeling.
I was always looking for something more. Something to help me. Something to get inside of me and make me bloom, make me fly away from the feelings I had. I was desperate, seeking, sad, searching, and above all, unsatisfied.
I reflect on this girl when I realize how happy I am now.
She keeps me going in the right direction every day. She keeps me from faltering. She keeps my head in the right place. She helps me remember the pain and be thankful for the way things are today.
I’m lucky. I broke out of it all somehow to slowly make my way to happiness. It was a long road with lots of potholes and rocks and slippery spots. But I was successful.
One important thing remains: Without reflecting on the past, on where I’ve been, who I am, and how I became what I am currently, I would not be successful. Reflection is somehow as vital to the recovery process as eating when you are hungry.