I’ve been through some dark times in my life. Thankfully, most of them were in the past. But some of them happened at a time when I was impressionable, vulnerable, malleable. And because of that, the person I am today is forever linked with those difficult times — one way or another. My personality grew around the tough times.
I was lucky to have some people in my life who were kind to me when things were bad. It was never everyone. And usually not the people I expected to help me. But there were bright lights, even so. People who helped. Who were kind. And didn’t want anything in return.
Looking back, I think that’s what insulated me from becoming more hardened and bitter because of the bad things that happened.
(Well, that and the reality that I didn’t have the luxury of becoming bitter — because I wouldn’t have had a support system if I hadn’t found a way to stay positive and take somewhat good care of myself; I would have driven everyone else away.)
There were bright lights, even in the darkness. Yes, even if a lot of terrible things happened, I did know some good people. And some of them helped me — in small or big ways.
For a long time, I didn’t just feel grateful for this. I felt guilty. I viewed those scattered kindnesses as a debt I owed to the people who helped me. And as time passed, I felt like I owed those people more and more for those early kindnesses — like they accrued interest.
And it felt like a giant burden I’d never repay. And because of this, I felt so guilty.
But the reality is that I had it all wrong – the people who helped me back then (in big or small ways), they weren’t doing it so they could hold it over my head or collect payment in the future. They didn’t want me to feel guilty for their help.
All they wanted was for me to feel better. To do better. To get better.
And sitting here, all these years later, I know that I did.
So there comes a certain point where you must learn to stop punishing yourself for needing help once upon a time — and to realize that you made the most of the help you were given.