I Survived Abuse, Cancer & Loss. Here's How I Healed From My Past

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There is a unique sense of peace that only comes from healing your past.

My past: Both of my parents were alcoholics. As a child, my father sold my body into childhood prostitution. As an adult, I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. After my last reconstructive surgery, my estranged mother was murdered in her mobile home.

Yes, I have a complex set of past experiences to heal.

When I first made a commitment to heal my past, I thought I had to be "fixed." As if I were the broken one. Because I felt this need to fix, I couldn't see past my anger about having to be fixed in the first place. For years, I fought and resisted the process. I thought I would only heal by placing blame and developing a seemingly impenetrable wall of anger and mistrust. I was exhausted and frustrated because nothing was working. I hit my "rock bottom."

With nowhere else to turn, I went inward. I began to pay attention to my inner dialogue. Slowly, I began to realize I wasn't broken; I didn't need to be fixed. I needed to heal.

The truth is healing your past takes time and a commitment to yourself to allow your unique way of healing to unfold naturally. Here are the five things I did to heal my past:

1. I became an observer of my thoughts.

I began to pay attention to my thoughts. I noticed that If I forgot something, my internal dialogue was "I'm so stupid." When offered opportunities, my internal dialogue was, "why, I will only screw it up" or "that's not for somebody like me." I discovered I am really mean to myself. I would never talk to my children the way I talk to myself.

2. I gave myself permission to fail.

I knew that some days I would be great and some days I wouldn't. I had to give myself permission to fail because when I did fail rather than beat myself up, I had the opportunity to offer compassion and then recommit.

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3. I learned how to love myself.

At one time I thought this was a hokey statement because it's crazy to think that we might not love ourselves, right? Here's the thing; if you spent the better part of your life being told (and/or telling yourself) that you are not lovable (in whatever form you heard it), could you truthfully say that you love yourself?

4. I accepted a simple truth.

I am the only one who gets to choose whether I can remain tethered to the past or set myself free.

5. I found gratitude.

Every night, before I fall asleep, I silently acknowledge what I am grateful for, the good stuff and the bad. Because it all brought me to where I am today.

Once I made these connections, I was able to see how my thoughts directed my actions and inactions. I was able to see specifically how I was holding myself back. I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing as sweet as that moment when you realize you hold the key to your healing.

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