A very close friend of mine who I have only the utmost respect & admiration for sent me this clip along with the message below it. Both the clip & his words resonated so deeply within me, I was inspired to write a post of my own about these subjects that I’ve been meditating on a lot lately.
“It occurred to me that ‘choose’ and ‘pick’ are synonyms. You can choose to learn from your mistakes and turn your pain into something kind, or you can pick your scabs and pick a fight.”Josh Loomis, aka Blue Ink Alchemist
When I read those words, I thought about the fact that I have a habit of physically picking my scabs as a form of self-injurious stimming. It dawned on me how apt it was for me to do that because it seems a total reflection of how I do this internally/emotionally, too. When we pick our scabs, we reopen the wounds, and we don’t allow ourselves to heal properly. This is what life with complex trauma is like every day. This is what it means to have (c)PTSD.
While we didn’t necessarily choose to undergo the initial traumatic experiences that inflicted the original wounds, we do have the choice of how we tend to those wounds. Even if we are receiving the best treatment possible from medical professionals, if we are still picking the scabs, we run the risk of infection, of scar tissue developing, & so much more. It’s on us to do our part in conjunction with seeking out professional treatment because as this clip shows, if we don’t heal our pain properly, we run the risk of hurting others.
Even if we may not value ourselves very much, if we have any compassion in our hearts, if we do not want to perpetuate a cycle of hate, cruelty, abuse, & violence, it’s on us to make healthy choices & take personal accountability for the consequences of our actions, to learn to be mindful of what we are saying & doing. We all make mistakes. None of us is perfect, so there’s no point beating ourselves up over making the wrong choice here & there. That isn’t going to help anything & may actually make things worse. All we can do is acknowledge that we could have made a better choice, learn from the mistake, and do things differently next time. We cannot change the past. Dwelling on it, fighting it, lamenting it, and getting angry over what has happened will not change it. All we have control over is the present moment & with each choice we make in the present, we are shaping a future trajectory.
At any moment we can choose to step back & reevaluate what kinds of choices we have been making. It’s never too late to decide that we want to try a different approach. There’s nothing shameful about admitting that the way we’ve been doing things the majority of our lives hasn’t been working very well. There’s no need to be embarrassed. It takes courage to look inside ourselves, to reflect on our choices, i.e. the only things we truly do have control over, and it takes strength to make the choice to start doing things differently. It takes patience to see the change after implementing a new course of action, a new behavioral model, a new way of seeing things. These things may be hard, but it’s already incredibly difficult to just exist on a daily basis due to the extreme degree of the severity of pain & suffering one feels just being alive when they’re living with complex trauma & wounds they keep reopening, whether deliberately or not.
The first step in paving a new trajectory, in learning how to change our behaviors & our reality, is to acknowledge that we may not always be fully in control of ourselves, that we may not have all the information, and to accept personal accountability for the fact that each & every thought, word, & deed of ours has a direct, tangible consequence. We need to stop seeing ourselves as only victims & start giving ourselves more agency so we can take responsibility for how we may be hurting others with the choices we’re making, regardless of it being our intention or not.
Most people don’t intend to hit a child who runs into the street suddenly if they’re driving, but if they do hit that child & that child dies, that death is the driver’s responsibility. Similarly, if you say something that hurts another person, it doesn’t matter if you MEANT to hurt them or not. It’s done. It happened. You have to take responsibility for your actions & apologize. You have to learn what it is that you said, why it hurt that person, and what you could have done differently. Then & only then is it possible to reduce the likelihood of hurting someone like that again going forward. If we don’t even accept the fact that we might’ve done something wrong, how can we ever grow & change for the better?
How can we say that we truly care about other people, that we are compassionate & empathetic, that we actively strive to NOT hurt others because we know how much it SUCKS to be hurt, when we are not taking even the most basic of steps? It all starts with accepting that we are all both capable of being hurt AND hurting others, no matter how hard we might THINK we’re trying not to. The fact of the matter is, what we THINK only goes so far. What our intentions are only matters so much. We still need to be able to accept culpability when we hurt others & actively work on improving ourselves so that we don’t hurt them again in the same ways. It’s a constant process. It’s called growth. It’s never ending. Up until the moment we die, we can be actively striving to do this.
Let’s help one another understand that it’s okay to mess up. Let’s give each other space to acknowledge our wrongdoings, take accountability, apologize for hurting one another, and talk about what we could do differently next time. Before we dismiss someone or condemn them because we were hurt, let’s instead assume that there might have simply been a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Let’s consider that someone who hurt our feelings may not have meant to & that it’s possible they were only responding the way they did because we accidentally hurt their feelings, too. We can overcome these self-imposed cages of isolation we’re creating for ourselves. We can melt the ice that has frozen our hearts. We just need to allow ourselves the opportunity to learn, grow, & heal so we can discover how to help others do it, too. We can only be there for others if we have learned how to properly be there for ourselves. It’s okay. We can do this.
We can break the cycle ❤