Nothing is wasted.
We cannot tell people things we do not know. They will sense that we are just trying to make them feel better and they will end up feeling worse. This week I sat beside someone I love and told him what I knew: this is potent and important, but we just don’t know what it means yet - you’re in the woods and you won’t know the answer until you get to the clearing.
In 2018 I was placed in a new dark place. One that I had never been to before and one that I would not have chosen for myself. It was a place born out of abandonment and rejection. Not the “I think you might be wrong” type but the “I think you’re wrong as a person” type of shame. I carried this dark place with me wherever I went. In the shower I’d think about it; walking alone I’d replay it through. Over and over I’d wonder what it all meant?
I wanted to fast-forward these lessons to leave the dark place. But, it seemed, these woods were meant for me; for the future me. When I was young, I’d play in the trees behind my childhood home. To this day you could drop me in and I’d know exactly where I stood and precisely how to get home. Time and time again it was a place where I could find myself and be found. The dark place of 2018 made me feel lost and unknown. I’d wonder repeatedly about who I was and if my people really knew me at all? Where had I failed? How had I been so blind?
Trying to find the path home was a long one. There were large limbs and thick manzanita blocking the way. To get through, I’d have to think and sweat. The journey would call for rest and nourishment. I would not get there in a day or even a year. It seemed to take so long, but I did find my way out. I wasn’t alone though. By the time I exited the dark woods, I was linked arm-in-arm with loved ones. People that saw me through. People that knew I’d remember my way home eventually.
This is where I find myself today: not fixing or telling, but reminding. Never would I have asked for the lessons that were delivered to me five years ago. Never. But my current day self is using those lessons to know myself more deeply. To understand humans more acutely and how we hurt each other sometimes. To open myself to the compassion of others and to receive love from those that surround me. It’s both of these things that I needed to learn to become who I am today. Nothing was wasted. Not a single word. I gathered up every pine needle that cradled my footsteps, each feather on my path, all of the lichen that got tangled up in my hair. I took them all and held them close. Each part of the way home is a piece of me now. A landscape elongated to encompass both the pain and the clarity.
Out of the darkness, I found my way home. You will, too. Today, I’m here to remind you of that. Your future self is waiting for you. Go to her.
With Love & Backbone,
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Nice Girl Uprising, Jennifer Padilla-Burger