In recent days I forgot my sense of self and I let the pain and negative emotions brought upon by others throw me off my path, so to speak. This is okay, though. The movie Memento tells the story of an individual who can't remember the events of the day, much less the last few minutes. He desperately struggles to keep his memories through the use of sticky notes, pictures, and in extreme cases, self-inflicted tattoos. The movie is about many things, but I believe it illustrates one of my thoughts perfectly: "We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are, I'm no different." Sometimes those "mirrors" come in the form of individuals/external forces that bring pain, or fear, or sadness. And for a while, I let that consume me.
But then a curious chain of events took place that, whether you believe in coincidence, faith, happenstance, fate, etc., shook me just enough for the realization to hit that I needed to get back on my path and move on confidently in my journey, head held high. First, I came across these beautiful words of advice:
"Being strong doesn’t mean hiding your pain. It doesn’t mean forgoing help when you’re struggling. It doesn’t mean denying yourself things that feel good for the sake of practicing self-control. It doesn’t mean refusing to show sadness and vulnerability. And it doesn’t mean carrying the burdens of life all by yourself. Anything that prevents your healing and stifles your growth does not correspond with strength. Being strong means refusing to tolerate people and things that wound your soul. It means practicing self-care when you’re hurting. It means honoring your feelings by actually allowing yourself to feel and express them. It means treating yourself with compassion and kindness, even when you feel like you don’t deserve any. It means doing what makes you happy and being with people who make you feel good, regardless of outside judgments. It means asking for help when the weight of the world has become too much. It means giving yourself permission to get your needs met by setting boundaries and using your voice. It means forgiving yourself on the days that you’re struggling and can’t be brave. It means challenging the voice telling you that you’re inadequate and worthless and reminding yourself, repeatedly, that you are enough." (Danielle Koepke)
I just wanted you to know that I still think the world of you. How are you buddy? I hope you're treating yourself right...or have finally found someone to do that for you! You deserve it.
I accepted without hesitation of course, but I simply had to ask "why me?" Her husband comes from a large family of endless brothers and sisters, and...well, I just never thought I was seen in that way, of that much importance. My sister just replied "we both felt you were someone she could look up to. You're loving, generous yet frugal, fair, and we honestly couldn't see anyone else taking care of her but you."
I sat down on the curb as the memories of that conversation flooded my mind, and for yet another day, I was reassured that yes, somehow, I was wanted...needed in certain respects.
Today, an old student of mine who has since graduated, struck me with this last line of our email exchange:
Thank you so much Dustin...it's people like you that truly make a huge difference in this world.
We all fall down, and we all meet individuals that make us feel low or unwanted...but there's just as many people, probably many more, that want you for you, and nothing more. And that's something that's worth its weight in gold and can't simply be forgotten. So accept your defeats, let life shake you up, allow yourself the opportunity to heal your wounds, and keep pressing forward...forward unto dawn.