Breaking Out of a Living Hell

Breaking out reminds me of that scene from The Shawshank Redemption, where the main character chips away, little by little, at the wall that holds him in prison. He’s determined to get out, even if it means slogging through sewage to finally be free.

For many of us, 2020 has felt a bit like that prison.

Unable to easily hop on a plane; adventurous plans or opportunities cancelled.

Zoom fatigue.

Jobs lost, bills mounting. Childcare and homeschooling! Aging parents in assisted living or nursing homes that don’t allow visitors.

Election season and endless vitriol inescapable on social media.

Civil unrest.

Yes, 2020 has been a scratched record, replaying disappointment, anger, angst, and turmoil over and over.

And over.

A friend recently encouraged me to consider all the things you still CAN do rather than focusing on what you can’t.

And that helps.

But what if that prison door was unlocked? Instead of agonizingly inching toward an escape, our main character could have just walked out instead of breaking out.

This idea struck me as I watched a recent episode of Lucifer on Netflix.

Yes. I know. You’re shocked that I’d watch – and even like – that show, aren’t you?

Well, I was too.

But it intrigued me because the story turns the traditional explanation of satan on its head and offers thought-provoking ideas that make for great conversations between Mark and me.

In the episode that caused me to think about prison, Lucifer explains that “hell” is a place only you can take yourself. And there is an open door…but people rarely take it.

So caught up in a loop of self-recrimination, guilt, shame, and replaying painful memories, hell’s inhabitants never escape this place of their own making.

Look, I’m not citing the show as gospel, but the idea has merit.

I’ve been the villain in some people’s stories and have mistakenly felt that if I wallowed in the sadness and grief of how they perceived I failed them, it would somehow absolve me.

It doesn’t.

People who cannot forgive WANT you to torture yourself for the error of your ways.

And anyone, isn’t everything between you and…YOU?

Who hasn’t done wrong?

Or failed to act?

We make our own hell right here on earth by torturing ourselves for our failures.

For missed opportunities.

Or for how we may have let someone down.

One of Mark’s favorite lines that I have adopted is, “If it would help, I’d do it.”

At some point a few years ago I realized that guilt and regret only serve to drag down my energy. It renders me incapable of joy. Sans joy, I am depleted; a walking zombie.

I quit the apology tour and walked through the door, free.

It was just a decision. To forgive myself.

Forgiveness equals freedom.

And for those of you walking around still paying for the past, my wish for you is that same freedom.

Let yourself off the hook.

Yes, learn the lesson! When you know better, you do better…and now you know better. Since we don’t get a do-over, please don’t spend this limited journey on planet earth a living hell.

The door…is open.

Communication can take many forms; breathing a prayer, expressing an apology, writing in your journal.

There are words inside of you that, once spoken or written, will heal your soul.

And that is my wish for you.

With love,
Brenda

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