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Monday, February 27, 2012

"Don't let your past paralyze your future."

Taken from
We all have a past that has defined who we are today. It may have been a single life changing incident, or a series of incidents that has made up what we define as our "past." Some of us choose to run from it, pretending it never happened until it creeps from beneath the surface; affecting our everyday lives and relationships.

Others, I'll call them the brave ones, look their past dead in the face; using it to motivate and catapult them into greatness.

And then there's the last group . . .

I'll call us the semi-paralyzed. Yes, I said us because I'm included in this group. We semi-paralyzed are stuck with on foot in the future and the other in our past. We wish we could change the past, erase history, change our name, or simply delete Google, but the reality is, the past is still there. It's etched into our minds, our memories, and sometimes textbooks and printed articles.

My past is one I don't talk about much. It's dark, depressing, shameful, hurtful, and could rear its ugly head at any moment. It pops up at the very instant when I think I can finally move on, get some closure, some privacy. I would say that one percent of the people who interact with me on a normal basis truly know my past; the thing that's paralyzed me since the tender age of twelve. Because I get so many emails and comments about my honesty in my writing HERE, I decided I would be fully honest and share my past with you.

You may be thinking, "How on Earth can a twelve year-old be paralyzed for life?"

Well in an attempt to free myself from the bondage of my past, I'll tell you.

As a middle school aged girl, I found myself in the popular crowd. I dated whoever, broke up with whoever, and generally thought I was on top of the world. I considered my life to be simply amazing. I was the popular cheerleader with good grades, a hoard of friends, and a wit that all my teachers loved. I was the All-American child until one fateful day in May.

It was the last day of school and everything was going great. We had a fun field-day in the morning and had planned our own after-school water balloon war. Wanting to get the party started a little early, some of my friends tossed balloons at one another in the hallways during class changes and were subsequently sent home. Little did I know, that small decision to play with water balloons would change my life.

Fast forward to the end of the day and I noticed one of those friends (former friend) Nathaniel had returned to school. I thought it was odd so I called out to him as he passed me in the hallway. Instead of his usual goofy smile, I was met with an unrecognizable stare. (It seemed angry, allusive). Not thinking much of it, I returned to my class where I started a conversation with my English teacher.

 It was during that conversation that there was a knock on the door. (At the time I was standing at the door with my teacher and another friend trying to convince him to let us go outside). It was Nathaniel and for some reason, he was asking to speak to my friend and myself. (Up until this very day, I still don't know what he wanted). A discussion ensued ending with my teacher sticking to his decision that no, we could not go outside to speak with Nathaniel. It was at that moment Nate pulled out a gun and took away a husband, a father, our teacher, our childhood, our innocence, and sent me into a state of mental, emotional, and social paralysis.

You see, our past isn't always determined by us, but in a split second it can alter our entire universe. I went from simply being Vonae the All-American student to Vonae Ware, "that girl!"

That girl that caused the world's most beloved teacher his life.

That girl I've seen from somewhere, I just can't figure out where.

That girl that sent Nathaniel to jail.

That girl . . . and the list goes on.

For years I wished I could change my name. To disconnect myself from "that girl," but every year when a new story comes out in the news, once again she and I become one and the past comes creeping back like a bad case of shingles.

But the point of this article is to not let our past paralyze us from our future, so this is my attempt at that. While I myself am still working at this, here are some ways you can get started:

1. Acknowledge the past,
 including the hurt and pain its caused you. (Write it down and talk about it).

2. Pinpoint the way(s) its changed you.
 (For me, its made me socially awkward, quiet (introverted), fearful, I hate people staring at me, unemotional, and I prefer no contact. (Yes that includes hugging. I know, it's strange)).

3. Decide if you can overcome these changes. 
(It will be hard but it'll make you better).

4. Write a note to the person or your former self, providing forgiveness. 
(This is not for you to give to them although you can if you would like. This is an exercise for you).

5. Understand that while you have a past, it doesn't control your future.

6. Know that God has a plan for your life.

7. Determine where you want to go in the future using the things you pinpointed in order to understand what's stopping you.

8. Remember your past, but use it to catapult you into your future. Don't let it be a chain of bondage for you any longer.

As always, I'm always here to talk. I hope this article will help you break free from your past and live an amazing future!

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