This morning I was listening to a podcast in which one of my emotional intelligence mentors, Dr Harriet Lerner, discussed regret, shame, and moving on.
Aspects of the conversation included wisdom regarding self-compassion, releasing yourself from the past and its lingering narrative, and the fact that the person who harmed you can not and will not be the person to heal you.
It made me think about a significantly traumatic event from my teenage years and the scars left in its wake: anxiety, fear, powerlessness, self-blame, self-disgust, and shame.
I had to hide everything when it happened, and it’s still buried over two decades later with the exception of just a few people in whom I have confided.
It’s not something that I think about often, but it washed over me this morning. And something inexplicable compelled me to search online for the perpetrator.
I must interject that it’s generally not healthy, productive, or wise to look up people from the past that have caused harm, or people in whom you are emotionally / mentally ensnared. The end result furthers the entanglement, often leaving you feeling worse than before. (This is experience talking). Pause first and ask why – establish your motivation and intention… sink beneath your thrumming emotion, queasy stomach, and racing heart, and listen to the voice that implores you not to go down that road.
I didn’t go through that full process this morning, but I did feel calm conducting the search; I was poised with no expectations.
The search result was instantaneous – there was the face, aged but familiar, with a social post sharing the shock and pain of betrayal: their partner had been cheating in an ongoing affair.
Did I feel vindicated? A sense of karmic justice?
I felt… nothing.
What happened to them doesn’t change what happened to me. Their pain doesn’t heal or cancel out mine. I felt neither elation nor disappointment. I did not compare and contrast our lives; I did not question fate or invoke judgment. I was untouched; unfettered.
In this revelation, I am free.