And now I would like to issue a sincere and hearty thanks to Justin Greer for sharing the following two-word phrase that has completely revolutionized my life:
Perhaps the profundity needs clarification.
I am, what some might call, "emotional." To say I carry my heart on my sleeve is a bit like saying the ocean is a bit wet or that Newt Gingrich is a bit of a douchebag.
As such, (an emotional person...not a wet douchebag) I tend to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I harbor long-past hurts and occasionally rehash them. I take cat and nine tails of painful memories to my back on the regular. I do this over and over and over again. And, while I tell myself I do this "so I will learn something" or "so that I become a better person," these evenings spent often end like a date with Chris Brown: I find myself returning home from an emotional escapade bloody and bruised, trying desperately to explain to the officers why "but I love him" is a good reason for me to stay.
The shocker? This way of life is no longer working for me.
I need a new method...but how to acquire one?
In my youth I turned to elders for wisdom. But this time I turned to my younger brother.
Like myself, my brother's been through some shit. But as this is not his blog, I will not divulge the nature of said shit. (Especially not to YOU, Nosy!) So let's just suffice to say that in a recent situation, I turned to sensei Justin-Oh-My-Justin for answers--and what he gave me was 12 minutes.
You see, 12 minutes is the length of an initial emotional response to stimulus. Ie. When you find out your girlfriend is cheating on you with your least favorite cousin, when you realize you've been robbed and the TSR Silver Anniversary Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was not insured, when you discover the next morning that what you thought was a condom was really his dubiously successful attempt to use a candy wrapper as contraception--that initial kick in the gut? It lasts 12 minutes.
"Everything after that you do to yourself."
That's right, friends. When you experience a trauma, the first 12 minutes are like an emotional "on-the-house." You can't be blamed. The reaction is involuntary. (For those of you CSI inclined, these are the minutes that constitute the "temporary insanity" plea.) In these 12 minutes, your gut's gonna do what your gut's gonna do. And it's gonna hurt. Like a motherfucker.
But... "everything after that you do to yourself."
I don't think I have ever been privy to more powerful and inspiring words in the entirety of my life.
This means that days spent lashing myself over past mistakes and nights spent crying over what I would do differently if given the chance--all of that pain and heartache and misery? I was responsible for it. I did it. To myself. And--what's more important--I can choose to stop.
If I want to, I can make it where I never have to feel more than 12 minutes of pain again. What used to take years to overcome can be tackled during an episode of "Futurama" if I so choose.
The past gave up its power to harm me the moment it became the present.
I am in charge of my present.
I choose my future.