You don’t get to choose the baggage that’s dropped on your shoulders, the wounds you need to bandage and heal. It’s not fair that this happened to you — but it happened. There’s no turning back now. There’s no reversing the damage that’s been done. No matter how many times you replay the situation in your mind, searching for solutions, brainstorming ways you could have seen this coming sooner and conducted yourself differently to prevent a tragedy from unfolding, it’s in the past. You have no control over your previous actions (or the actions of others), but you are in total control of what you choose to do moving forward. You are in charge of paving your own path.
You need to forget about the person you were yesterday, the mistakes you’ve made and the mistakes made against you, and focus on what you want to achieve tomorrow. Your history might be front and center in your mind, but it doesn’t define you. Your worst moments aren’t the best examples of who you are deep down at your core. The partners and relatives who have hurt you, who have said horrible things about what a monster you are, don’t know your heart best. Forget what they think. They aren’t important. Not anymore. Not now that you know what pain they’re capable of inflicting.
You are not a bad person. You are a person. A flawed, complex, work-in-progress person. And as long as you’re putting the effort in to grow, to change in ways you deem personally important, you should be proud of your progress. Maybe you’re not at a place where you can say you love yourself yet, but you will get there in baby steps. You will slowly learn to see yourself through your own eyes, not through the vision of people who only want to tear you down. Remember, their perspective isn’t the right perspective. It isn’t the only perspective. As much as you cared about what they thought in the past, you need to move into the future caring more about your own thoughts, your own views, your own perspective.
By all means, apologize when it’s your place to apologize. Take accountability for your mistakes and own up to your actions. But don’t punish yourself forever over mistakes that are in your rearview, over people who are never going to hear your side of the story because theirs is the only view they’ll consider. Everyone messes up. But not everyone learns from it. Not everyone grows the way that you’re committed to. You should be proud of yourself for acknowledging your baggage when so many people pretend that it doesn’t exist in the first place. You’ve already taken the first step toward healing. You’re already doing better than most people ever will. Just don’t give up on yourself. Don’t assume that you’re destined to carry this baggage forever. No, you can never forget what happened to you, and you might not be able to forgive it either, but you can heal from it. You can change. You can grow and grow and grow.