They’re a part of me, as much as I hate that sometimes.
The ones who hurt me, broke me, beat me down. The ones I allowed to take pieces of me for their own sense of comfort and control. The ones who made me believe that all of me wasn’t wanted or welcome… that I was too much. The one who said it to my face, so casually over chips and guacamole, you’d have thought he’d just asked me to pass the salt.
They will always be a part of my story.
As much as I may wish I could forget them.
But I wouldn’t change a thing about that story. Truth. Would I have preferred it if things could’ve been different, better, less intense? Absolutely. Do I wish I knew then what I know now so that I could have loved myself more, set and held better boundaries, and not allowed any of it? Of course.
But that’s now how growth works, is it? I wouldn’t be standing where I am today, doing the work that I’m doing, had I not been shaped and guided by those experiences.
It’s a twisted and confusing kind of gratitude, the whole, “thank you for making me stronger and for all that I learned because of you.”
Because I know that at least one of them will miss the parts with all the pain, abuse, and chaos—the parts that were never okay for any reason at all—and feel pride in ‘being the one that helped me grow’. But they did, whether or not their intentions or methods or roles were good. They shaped me.
As Hannah Brencher writes, “we can rebuild upon the stuff that once destroyed us, and those very things become a part of the foundation.”
They are, and always will be, a part of my story, as well as the foundation from which I’m rebuilding. They are woven into the legacy I’m here to leave and the body of work I’m pouring myself into creating.
We can’t change where the story began, but we can choose to rewrite the ending as many times as it takes to craft something we’re proud of. Something that proclaims loudly, “I am better, stronger, and wiser because of all that I have walked through.”
And that will always be yours, not theirs.
They didn’t do that, you did.
People and experiences shape us, they do. But we decide what to make of ourselves in the aftermath. You and I and no one else.
What will you choose?