I received a very interesting Facebook message this morning, from a friend who I had not heard from in almost a decade. We were never very close friends--work mates, mostly--but I really liked what little I knew of her, and thought that she felt relatively the same about me way back when.
It was a very brief message, just saying how she was curious about me because all she remembered of me from before was how I used to steal from work, and that she hoped I had changed, hoped I 'knew better now'. I read it as I lay awake in bed at around 5 this morning, somewhat blown away and curious at someone making contact in that way, but it immediately made me feel very sad and embarrassed that someone would only remember that about me. I was 24 or so back then, and not what you would call an upstanding human being.
However, I can't remember stealing anything from this place of work (MAC cosmetics, back in the day when I was a makeup artist), though if someone else does it wouldn't surprise me if I did. I had, hands down, the most flexible set of moral codes known to any human being at that point, and I probably wouldn't remember doing any such thing because I would convince myself that they 'owed' me because I thought they didn't pay me enough, or I did some kind of extra work that went unrecognized. I was constantly doing this, in every situation and experience back then, figuring out a way to bring myself out on top without having to acknowledge the truth of what it was that I was doing.
The most prominent part of that time of my life that I can recall is how incredibly messed up I was emotionally, so that would likely add to the not remembering (not to mention the cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs I had been taking since 19, in a poorly executed attempt to 'deal' with my depression and attention disorders and a few other things I got diagnosed with at some point) Not that it's any excuse at all for such behavior, but I was a complete wreck back then. I had just recently returned from two attempts to move to the Caribbean with a very neurotic and abusive partner (though, of course, we were perfectly matched for each other), and spent pretty much every evening that I wasn't extraordinarily drunk contemplating whether I should tip a bottle of my pills down my throat and just give up. Life was a very, very sad experience most of the time, and thus my ability to extend care and attention to anyone but myself (and, of course, failing at that too) was absolutely zero.
Oddly, I don't beat myself up about that part of life, though nor do I excuse it. I would do anything to make amends to those who were unfortunate enough to have to try and live with and around me at that time, and I hope they can feel that. There is no past nor future in Shamanic time, and we do have the opportunity to heal parts of ourselves that got left behind in trauma and challenge, and I have been blessed enough to have a teacher to assist me in doing that, but I can't change the way that people experienced me then, unfortunately. I can only commit to doing and being a more functional and caring human, and create relationships from that place now.
I do not beat myself up because I trust in the basic goodness of all beings, and that everyone, no matter what choices or actions they are engaged in, are doing their best given the tools, trauma, and training that they have experienced. I know that a person does not steal if they have power and self love, does not slander or gossip if they have compassion, and cannot cheat if they understand their reality. Without those things--when they are diminished by trauma or abuse or situational experiences-- we tend to do all manner of nefarious things, far beyond lying, cheating and stealing, but when they are within us we live by a moral code that is not human in nature, but universal. We understand and abide by cause and effect on an energetic and spiritual level, ever-improving our capacity to live honestly and with integrity by paying attention to feedback and committing to the path of our own evolution.
I am very, very sorry for any I hurt in the past, and can only say that I live now committed to trying (doing my best, always, although it is always a learning process) to understand how to live within the guidelines of a life of integrity.
I debate as to whether to publish this entry, as I wonder whether it will serve to diminish the faith that my clients and friends have in my present way of being. It would be nice, maybe, to be able to put a life story out there that told of how aware and high functioning I have always been, blessed by some magic at birth and entirely without dysfunction, and yet that's about as far from the truth as you could get.
And yet I know that the truth of my path is one of my strongest gifts, in some strange way; that all the ways I have failed and failed and failed have, eventually, led to an understanding of the experience of being human that would not have been there otherwise for me. Only because I had an eating disorder for so long can I commiserate and assist in healing those who also struggle, I know. Only because I lived the majority of my life in paralyzing fear can I really understand what others are going through, I suppose. And only because I existed by a flexible and bizarre moral code can I really understand why it is that people do terrible things to each other, taking this understanding and committing to consistently hold myself accountable for my actions and behaviors, and to possibly, in some way, assist that development of knowing in other people.