I carry a great deal of shame about my past; about who I was and the things I did before I knew any better. Over the years, I have done a lot of work on myself to get to the place I am in today.. But, occasionally, when confronted with my past, whether it’s a memory or a phone call from a long lost friend, I feel incredibly threatened. I find myself wishing I could erase entire years of my life from my mind. Recently, I was forced to confront the pain and emotional baggage that I carry with me. I was shocked by how much guilt and anxiety I was still holding onto and how little I had actually forgiven myself for. As I was crying to my husband, he reminded me that these things come up from within us when we are capable of dealing with them. I am able to recognize my pain and my shame because I am capable of more compassion for myself and for others. Many years ago, I made a promise to myself to choose love over fear. So, that’s what I am doing. Instead of beating myself up for still having these feelings, for still having this baggage and this complicated past, I’m choosing to love myself. To be gentle with myself. To forgive myself for who I was, to forgive everyone else for who they were and to make space for who we all are now. This is often difficult. But when I’m struggling, I like to practice the affirmation, “only love goes out from me, only love returns to me”. I am working on remembering that the only way to be free from pain is to love yourself and everyone else through it.