“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.”
— John Dewey
As I was sorting through some old boxes in my garage I found an old journal. It has a beautiful cover of green and blue buttons of all shades and all sizes. It is filled with beautiful recycled pages and a beaded book mark.
This journal also contained 5 months of hand written life moments. It was dated from January 1, 2005 to May of 2005. I quickly realized what these journal pages were going to contain. The last months of a relationship with a boy, a boy that is in my life forever, the birth father to a child that I placed for adoption. A relationship that has deeply changed my life in so many ways.
Sometimes we feel like we are standing still, that we haven't made any progress, that we make some mistakes and we beat ourselves up and we feel like we are just repeating the same cycles. Reflecting back has helped me to see how far I have truly come and how much I want to keep moving forward.
As I read through the pages I was sadden by the way I felt, the pain that I was in, the lack of understanding and perspective, the value I put on my worth, the hate talk, the shame, the sacrifices made and the allowance for mistreatment.
Honestly if I could go back I would probably slap the shit out of that girl.
But that is what time, and work and energy and experience and love and devotion to yourself and soul work can do...make you want to go back and shake the shoulders of your former self and scream "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!"
It seems now to be a really bad fiction novel. A story about a woman that I no longer know or recognize. A tragic story of pain and loss and heartache and confusion.
“I am learning that it is NOT just about letting go of the pain from the past, but it is about pulling the experiences from them, finding the diamond in the pile of coal, and holding that treasure close to you, implementing it into your life and then letting go of the rest. Don’t ever forget to find the lesson in the experience before you take it out with the trash!”
— Ashley Mitchell
So I am pulling the diamonds from that journal before tearing out the pages and finding a better use for this beautiful book!
These are 3 things that I have changed in my life, that I have improved on, that are vastly different from before, that have helped me to create a life driven by my greatest desires:
1. I HAVE STOPPED THE HATE TALK.
I was so appalled by what I read on the very first page of this book, and it just continued to get worse as it went on.
"FAT WATCH, I am racking up the lbs at a sick 153. I need to get down to 140 at least and tone up...I need to be small and tone so that he wont leave me for someone else."
"Stop eating you fat cow"
"Just back off of him a little, I love him too much and I don't blame him for feeling smothered. I need to stop acting like a needy baby"
"I really need to break it off with him, he doesn't love me like I love him, but will he even miss me?"
"I have done everything I can think of to make him love me"
" I need to just bite my tongue when he says something mean to me, I just make it worse when I fight with him."
...and the book goes on and on like that. I felt so sad that I talked so bad about myself, that I thought I wasn't worth loving, that I thought my body was my worth (by the way I would kill to be at 153 right now but man I love those double cheeseburgers!) That I felt like my opinion didn't matter or that I wasn't allowed to share my voice.
This has changed greatly in my life, and thank goodness for that! I have a voice. I share it openly, I have very open and honest communication with my husband, he respects me and loves me, he worships my body...not because it is perfect but because it houses my spirit, it has been the vessel for our children to come into this world, it is a part of him. I look in the mirror and recite positive affirmations to myself, I practice self love and self care. I want to be respected and honored. I believe that I am worth loving and I don't have to prove that on a daily basis.
I have learned who I am and what I am worth, and it is WAY more that I ever thought possible. I know my worth and what I am NOT willing to settle or sacrifice. I am ok in my own skin and I know I have a great purpose.
2. I KNOW THAT I AM NOT GOING TO DIE IF SOMETHING DOESN'T WORK OUT!
I lost count of how many times I said "I can't handle this, I am seriously going to die if he leaves me. My life will be over if he decides he doesn't want to be with me" " I am so broke and I am such a loser, what am I going to do? I will never survive this"
One of the very greatest lessons that I have learned in this life is that the TRUE miracle is that we DO survive, that we can make it through anything and that I am a BIG TOUGH GIRL™.
How quickly we forget when we are experience great turmoil in our life that WE CAN DO THIS, that we have survived great destruction but that we have rebuilt our foundation and that we really are ok?!
I try to keep that in the front of my process at all times. It is a powerful reminder!
“I truly believe that the greatest miracle in any trial is that we do in fact survive.”
— Ashley Mitchell
Change is a great part of life. It can be dirty and messy and it never asks permission...it just comes. WE have a choice to stay where or get in the dirt and roll with the change. I am so thankful for the lessons of change that I have learned over the years. With every life season change comes closing a few chapters, but allowing room to start a few new ones and man....the excitement of the new and the freedom from the past....there is a much greater pay off.
3. THE "LOVE" OF MY LIFE WASN'T ACTUALLY FOUND IN A MAN.
I am so grateful that I have my husband in my life, that I didn't die because of that break up and that I was able to rise and find my true equal, companion...a true soul mate. A man that loves me, supports me, and that truly gets me. Who knew that losing "the love of my life" would actually set me on path to meet my husband. Funny how those things just seem to work out!
My husband has taught me a VERY valuable lesson. Last year at this time I had a kitchen full of amazing and capable women, all smart and beautiful and true BTG's. As we were celebrating an amazing weekend and toasting to each other one of my soul sister's raised a glass and toasted that her and the other single women in that circle could find a man that loved them and respected them and realized their worth.
When it got to my husband he simply raised his glass and said
"Here is to realizing that your worth is not found in someone else."
Needless to say of us stopped for a moment to reflect in his simple but profound statement, realizing how true it was.
The true LOVE of my life has been my relationship with myself. Getting to know me on an intimate level, learning to love and work within the realm of my imperfections and expanding in ways that I never thought possible. Knowing to the very depths what my true desired feelings are and how to create a life around them. I have learned to accept weakness and I have learned to say NO and I have learned to create boundaries and I have learned to allow for change and season and to allow others to be who they are, to set acceptance of expectations, to share my voice and to love a community. This is true love and I look forward to continuing this amazing relationship with myself, to explore and develop more talents that have been given to me and to continue to love myself in a way that reflects my truest potential!
What an incredible blessing to find this book, to be reminded of how far I have come and that I can continue to move forward in growth, healing and love.
As I burned the pages of this book, I let go of the pain and anger and despair...knowing that the true treasure of those pages had been removed and had been implemented into my daily practice.
“Reflect on every experience, find the treasure and throw out the rest with the garbage!”
— Ashley Mitchell