Lessons of Today

How long are you gonna keep it?

You know what I’m talking about.

That dress that still has a tag on it. That mug that hasn’t been used. That photo that you have but refuse to look at.

Mine is my violin.

From 4th grade to my senior year, I played the violin. Even after, I would pick it up from time to time and play a few songs.

I still suck.

I started playing because it was the only instrument that 4th graders could play at my school. I kept playing in middle school because my best friend was playing with me. I kept playing in high school because it was the only thing that reminded me of my best friend and my old school.

I kept playing.

I tried playing at church but my song request was forgotten and I was stuck playing a song I had no business playing.. ultimately making a fool of myself.

For so long, I have been trying to revive the little 4th grader who could play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with her eyes closed… but she’s long gone.

Looking back on my old journals, I found so many requests to God to go back to who I used to be. I used to be so creative, so carefree, so outgoing, so joyful. My requests were ignored.

For a couple years, I hated myself for not being who I used to be. I was so busy trying to live in one version of me that I was totally disconnected from who I was becoming.

I think it is okay to recognize, honor, appreciate and reflect on your past but it is not okay to live there.

I think this is why Tetris always gave me anxiety.

There are so many holes, misshaped blocks and uncertainties. The worst part was not being able to change the blocks you already put down. (Man that game used to KILL me!!)

But that is life.

We are not the one block we put down first. Or the one that fell while we weren’t looking. Or even the one we were so certain about that we sped up its fall but ended up throwing off the rest of the blocks anyway. We are not made up of one block.

And our lives are not determined by what block we get, but by where we choose to place the block and moreover, how we choose to continue adding blocks.

Okay.. enough metaphors.

In Social Work and hopefully society soon, we are taught about Identity-First vs. Personhood language. Identity-First language would be calling someone “a mentally ill” person, while Personhood language would be saying, “that person has a mental illness”. See the difference?

I think this can be applied to our lives.

I am not an L shape block.. wait, no metaphors.

I am not a failed violinist. I am a person who fell out of love with playing the violin.

“Self Care” advocates are gonna hate me for this but “I Am” affirmations are somewhat flaky. By declaring “I Am ____”, we unconsciously tether ourselves to that identity/affirmation.

If I walk around affirming that I am strong all the time, my moments of weakness will cause me to feel like a liar or inadequate. Don’t get me wrong, “I Am” statements/affirmations are powerful and I use them myself but I am trying to change the way I hold myself accountable.

I am tired of beating myself up for falling short of my own expectations.

It is our personhood that makes room for ticks, mishaps, faults and shortcomings.

No matter how hurtful and ugly, our past is comforting. It gives us an excuse to be who we are, but I call bs. Our past is made up of what happened to us but our present is made up of how we choose to react to it, cope with it and heal from it.

For some, it’s not the memory you’re holding onto, it’s the feelings/emotions and every time you think of that memory, you feel the hurt again and that hurt sticks to you like double sided tape, keeping you bound to the past.

Love, it’s time to let. it. go.

I know it’s easier said than done but you are neglecting your present self by trying to fulfill desires of your old self, by trying to approve choices of your old self, by trying to understand the thoughts of your old self, by trying to love yourself in a form that does not exist anymore.

What still exists is the shame, fear, rejection, disapproval, anger, insecurity, abandonment, regret, self-hate, pity, confusion, disappointment, loneliness, manipulation and so on BUT those feelings are not yours to carry anymore.


The only version of yourself that exists is the person you are today, and she/he/they need you here, for today, for right now.

Our bodies hold on to trauma like our skin holds on to scars. The quicker we treat them, the better they heal. Old scars are hard to fade, especially when we keep picking at them.. feeling the pain over and over again.

However, it is possible for the pain to be removed but not the scar. I have a burn scar from childhood below my chest from getting too close to a hot pan with no shirt on. I don’t remember the pain or me crying but what I do remember is that I shouldn’t get too close to hot pans with no shirt on and I will tell this story to my children and show them the scar to teach them not to get close to hot pans with no shirt on.

This is life.

Lessons of pain and scars. Lessons of trauma and healing. Lessons of past and present. Lessons of today.

We are constantly changing, adapting, evolving, learning, and with this, we don’t get to choose how it happens to us but we do get to choose how we happen from it, how we heal from it, how we become of it.

That is true power. Taking mess and making it a masterpiece.

As we head into 2021, remember to actually go.

My Eyes are Set On: today.

1 comment

  • Jania Phillips

    We definitely get our metaphors or “picture stories”
    from our daddy! Great read launa! Gonna have to come and read again

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