Have you ever done something that you are so ashamed of that it haunts you years later? Of course you have, everyone has. What I am haunted by, even to my standards, are pretty tame. I have done things, said things, and let’s not even discuss the thoughts I have had. Things, I believe, that would horrify my family and friends. Those aren’t the things that keep me awake at night. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to write about those things, but not yet.

The memories that break into my thoughts every. single. day. are the things I know I have done to cause heartache to others. Some were people that I didn’t really know, some were ‘good’ friends, and some were even family members that I was very close to my whole life. Some things were done and said out of pure mean-spirited gossip. Most times, though, I just cut people off, never to speak with them again. Why? Because they had no right to talk to me like that! That is what I told myself, anyway.

Now, after I have had a few years (or decades), to stew over it, I realize that the times I have cut people off, were at least partly because I know what I had said or done was wrong. If not the content, at least the motivation. I heard or read something years ago that has stuck with me since. Simply put, it says something to the effect of ‘we use anger as a way to cover up embarrassment’. Did they have a right to speak with me that way? Maybe not, but was it really worth ruining a friendship over? No. But my secrets were revealed, and I couldn’t face them anymore.

There were more than a few times as a young adult, that I cut people off because they didn’t have the same belief system that I had, or followed a different political party…God forbid, or some other reason that was just as senseless. Oh, but I was right, I was always right. What I really was, was an arrogant asshole. The kind of person I cannot stand to be around now. Hey, wait…..

Could this have been a lesson? If so, it was a lesson that took awhile to learn, but it was worth all the pain. At least my pain, not the pain I inflicted on others. Maybe that is why I try so hard to be kind to others now, no matter how they are acting. You never know what someone may be dealing with. Or, maybe they just suck. Let’s face it, some people do. But, I don’t want to be one of those people anymore.

Wow! Another tough lesson learned. You just never know what might be hiding behind those nasty experiences. I guess that is one of the reasons I have changed so much over the years. My past experiences, no matter how I felt at the time I was experiencing them, broke my shell and allowed me to become who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow. I may not be a butterfly yet, but I have made it out of my cocoon.