Embarking on a New Adventure

Leaving the past in the past takes courage. Walking into the future does too.

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I was watching a Christmas cartoon with my two-year-old nephew this afternoon, and although I had seen “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” a zillion times, one song stood out to me this cold December day. The song that struck me as being important is called, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other”.

The lyrics speak of how important it is to take the first step, begin walking, and walk through the door if you want to change the person you see in the mirror each morning.

Looking back on my travels through the hard and dangerous work of psychotherapy, I can see the importance of this advice. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you this evening.

Learning to Stand

Like in the song, the first thing I had to do was stand. While that may sound easy, standing while having the weight of the trauma of my past on my head was almost impossible. Every fiber of my being wanted to lie down and die. How could I stand when I had horrific memories of what had happened to me plaguing every moment of my days and nights. The grief was so overwhelming, I didn’t believe I would ever feel good or happy. That was a black time for me, and I almost didn’t survive it. However, my therapist refused to give up on me. She was a sane voice in the cacophony of negative thoughts and voices that shouted in my mind that I was worthless and didn’t belong in the world. She kept challenging me to look beyond my pain and imagine a day when the pain was manageable, and I was able to move on with my life. She propped me up when I was unable to stand, but gradually, very gradually, I found I could stand on my own.

Learning to Walk

The next thing I needed to do was to learn how to walk.  Just as Lao Tzu stated, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I had to find the courage to leave my comfort zone of allowing life to happen to me, and become proactive in the direction my life was taking. I’m not talking about a simple matter here, I’m speaking of radically changing my locus of control, (my point of view of my power), from external (the world controls my life) to internal (I control my life).

I Had to Become Proactive in My Life

For years I had allowed my past to haunt me, and to make me feel weak and victimized. Now it was time to learn to not only take the reins but to stop blaming others for my pain.

Before you get upset with me, allow me to explain further.

The pain I am speaking of isn’t the harm people had done to me in the past. No, the pain I’m talking about is the things I continued to allow those who traumatized me as a child to do to me in the present. No one was abusing me in my 30s and 40s, all the things that were harming me at the time, were because I remained stuck in my self-imposed prison of pity.

Learning to Live

Leaving that mentality and beginning to walk in freedom wasn’t easy. In fact, I ran back to my hiding place many times before I was able to break free. Still today, I will find myself sometimes wallowing in the pain of the past, but it takes me much less time to remember how to walk away and live again.

Walking Through the Door to Freedom

The lyrics to the song say after beginning to walk, one must walk through the door. That’s correct. One cannot leave a prison without going through their cell door to freedom. I can remember standing on the precipice of freedom and trembling in fear. The future felt full of peril and I was reluctant to walk into it. It took an enormous amount of courage, and the support of a great therapist to help me think it through and make the correct choice. I realized I could remain rooted where I was, content to just be able to walk, but the other choice enticed me. What if behind the door were opportunities I had only dreamt of, like returning to college and pursuing a writing career. I stood facing the possibility of realizing both dreams. I had no knowledge of how well I would do in either of them, but just the thought that I could realize my dreams compelled me forward. I finally made the decision, opened the door, and walked through.

Changing Who I See in the Mirror

That old song sung by Mickey Rooney also speaks of looking in the mirror each day, wishing I would see someone else looking back.

When I was living as a victim, when I looked into the mirror I saw an angry, hurt and pitiful human being staring back at me. Now, after fighting for so long and traveling so far, when I see myself in the mirror, I see a strong, able and courageous woman who has embarked on a wonderful new adventure in life.

I Have Learned So Much

There are so many life lessons I have learned from spending years in psychotherapy, and I now understand that life isn’t a destination but a grand adventure. There will be failures, there will be pain, but oh my, the benefits of taking those first steps, walking and leaving my prison has made life beautiful, even with its uncertainties.

I’m including the lyrics to the song “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” below. Read them, and listen to Mr. Rooney singing them on YouTube. I can guarantee, you won’t see this yuletide cartoon the same again.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Pope John XXIII

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Jules Bass, Maury Laws

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going

If you never get up on your feet

Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing

A fast walking man is hard to beat

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If you want to change your direction

If your time of life is at hand

Well don’t be the rule, be the exception

A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If I want to change the reflection

I see in the mirror each morn

You mean that’s just my election

To vote for a chance to be reborn

You put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

You put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

Put One Foot In Front of the Other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Embarking on a New Adventure

  1. This is a wonderful article with a deep truth in it: learning to walk to get out of trauma and start the road of healing. This would be true for many people that have the ability for it. Why do I say ‘ many’?
    Because in some cases, the ‘ entanglement’ with abusers has set deep roots in your soul, e.g. by physical or sexual responses (deliberately) provoked by abusers when you were a very young child. This ‘incorporated’ and trained behavior is part of the self and at the same time not! Not only is there some automatic ‘self’ that has split off and no matter how you want to make the first step, you are trapped in the situations by your own body and mind. Yes, I wanted to make first steps. Moreover, you can;t skip an entire youth and simply say:” so, now I’m adult and go my way’, as tall steps you ever made as a child were fake steps. Pretending everything was alright- causing dissociative identity disorder. That is why therapy is very necessary, to guide you, to help opening that prison door which is another ‘ self’ that you even do not know and responds physically to things you never ever wanted yourself. Meanwhile there is social isolation by the system. This means it is not easy ( especially when you are male) to be vulnerable because society is extremely hard on you and there are no real place for men. So, yes, I found it very comforting reading about the possibility to escape, but after prolonged trauma, I believe you are not able to do it on your own, in therapy somebody has to guide you, help you not only make the first step, but to start the journey of life. To be honest we are waiting all our life, waiting to ever become a little boy that is allowed to start living some place. That is reality. That is society that denies and ignores child abuse and its consequences. Again, thank you for this article, I am glad you can look in the mirror like that, for me I see a man that is hated not only by my society (society hates males and is now saying only children that live now are the right ones…) but also by myself. So there are many steps to make.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! I want to say one thing to you. Yes, some people are cruel and judge men as weak or lesser men when they acknowledge they were innocent victims as children. Please don’t judge all people by the few. I know they have loud voices and you were trained to listen only to them but I’ll tell you what my therapist Paula told me. “You’re going to find out most of us are pretty nice people”. Keep moving forward my friend. The road to self-discovery is long but after a while one can look back with gratitude for it. Shirley

      Like

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