Facing pain with strength Print
Youth Column
Thursday, May. 05, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

We all have memories that cause instant anger or sorrow. Memories of moments in our lives that we want to hide, and memories we wish had never occurred.

Regardless of how we feel, or what we're told, those bad moments do not make us who we are. Instead, we are defined by how we respond to those moments. When we meet others, they don't know our past. They only know the choices we make in the present. It's our present action that matters.

Recently, someone asked why I'm always so cheerful. I had to pause for a moment because I'd never thought of myself that way. Inside, in my thoughts, I'm anything but peppy. However, to the outside world, that's exactly how I appear.

Upon reflection, I came to an unexpected realization. How I project myself to others is a direct response to the memories that haunt me on a daily basis. Without realizing it, I've chosen to isolate my pain with a truly positive attitude that prevents those memories from negatively affecting who I am.

I'm pretty sure this method won't work for everyone, and even if it did, I don't know that I'd recommend it. There's something to be said about moving past our anger and hurt. I have no doubt there's a definite time for that. For me, that time is not now.

Until the proper moment arises, I've unknowingly created rules for myself to cope with memories I'd rather not yet face. They help me act like the person of strength I wish I could be, until I can truly become that person on my own.

For those dealing with these issues, I'd recommend, first and foremost, know who you are and be that person. If you're not true to yourself, every choice you make is suspect. I am a person who chooses not to be defined by the past, even if I'm not yet capable of letting it go.

Next, understand your moral code, and stick to it. If you know your definition of right and wrong, the proper decision to make when faced with a tough choice becomes clear. You have to always be willing to accept the consequences of all actions, good and bad. I am a person who fights strongly for what he feels is correct, but easily admits fault when wrong.

Finally, no matter what happens, positive or negative, never forget you control your life. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Some days end and I feel I'm on top of the world. Some days, I feel beaten down. Every day, I can look in the mirror without flinching because I know I did the best I could do.

Living by these guidelines, I've overcome the anger and sadness that can unexpectedly haunt my life. We each have these moments of personal discomfort. They lurk in the deepest corners of our mind. Our darkness is our own.

Over time, I've learned to let go of much anger and sorrow. I've made the choice to let go of the pain caused by others through actions for which I had no control. Holding on can't help me. It can only hurt.

Unfortunately, there is much I can't yet release. I'm not ready to move past those memories. They still come to mind at random moments, leaving anger or sorrow in their wake. Until the moment arises when I can let them go, I will continue to exude happiness.

Otherwise, the past would win and I see a future far too bright to let that happen.

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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