I recently saw numerous posts that all revolved around the same theme: Wasted Time.
One photo in particular, had a quote that I could greatly relate to, which stated:
“I know people who feel like they’ve wasted years of their lives because of poor choices. They spent years in a relationship that was toxic, years with an addiction, years at a job where they weren’t fulfilled. But you have to realize, nothing you have been through is ever wasted. Your past experiences, good and bad have deposited something on the inside of you. Those challenges have sharpened you to help make you who you are today.”
This hit close to home for me in a way that is almost too difficult to explain in the proper words; but I’ll try to explain it anyway. I have written several other posts concerning life changes that have occurred for me since I started writing a couple of years ago. I don’t know if I am alone in feeling this way, but it always seems that as soon as I finally feel like I am in a good place, and things are starting to line up properly, the world falls from under me and I have to start from the bottom all over again… or so it seems. When I first read the quote above, a billion life experiences flashed through my brain and it really made me think.
Have I been beating myself up over the time I felt I had wasted? Was I still comparing where I was in life compared to where others were? Why? Why was I adding so much more to my plate than I needed to by holding on to unnecessary regret? It was time to go through things once again, to think about what happened, why they happened, find the lesson in them and finally let go and move on. I realized that Beauty can be Found in Wasted Time, and this is why:
“They spent years in a relationship that was toxic….”
My friend Val, recently started her blogging journey and her posts have really inspired me by how honest and open she is about events that have transpired throughout her life. Her most recent post, Part 3: A Toxic Relationship That Lead To A Big Relapse, spoke about- you guessed it- a toxic relationship that greatly affected not only her mental well-being but also her physical health. I urge you to read her experience and to check out the rest of her site, Lifting Freedom in which she speaks more about self-love and what she has learned. Everyone goes through things differently, but you never know how similar your experiences may be with another person and having someone who understands what you’re going through can make all the difference in the world. If you can relate to her post, contact her- I am sure she would love to hear from you. If not, and you feel like you are in an abusive/unhealthy relationship, contact someone, anyone. [Resources if you need to speak to someone can be found here.]
For me, this portion of the quote is also quite relevant. I have had my share of relationships, and I have learned something from each and every one of them. What I found to be extremely difficult when you begin a break-up process, is sadly not always the fact that the relationship is over. Instead, it’s the feeling of when you get out of the relationship and after a bit of time, you realize how much weight you feel is lifted off of your chest. Sometimes, you get so accustomed to feeling a certain way, even if it’s you being depressed and unhappy, that it just becomes normal. When you are finally seeing “clearly” again, you start wondering “What was I thinking? Why did I allow myself to be in this situation?” Don’t beat yourself up.
I had been in a toxic relationship in the way that, while neither of us were happy and we were no longer treating each other with respect, we just stayed in the situation because, well, it was what we were used to. I had lost myself and I didn’t even notice when it had begun to happen. We got in such a routine that it was normal for me to sit there, do nothing, be miserable and not SAY anything about it. When I did say something, it would cause a huge fight that put me into a deeper depression, to the point where I could not get out of bed. It is embarrassing for me to say, but I would honestly drink too much out of complete boredom, not wanting to deal with my emotions and not wanting to deal with the other person involved. It was completely unhealthy. I used to jog, do yoga, work out- and now I’m laying in bed all day, depressed, lazy and unable to move. What had happened? Once I got out of the situation, I had a chance to think, “What a waste of time I spent being miserable when I could have been happy, or at least, happier more often.” Of course, I was to blame, it was not just the other party- we both took part in what ended up being the downfall of us. When a break-up first happens, and emotions are running high, it’s easy to sometimes feel bitter or resentful towards the person you spent so much time with, or even just the time itself.
While it is normal to go through several emotions at once, to hold on to those “bad” feelings for long periods of time will simply make things worse. Rather than say, “I can’t believe I wasted so much time being with so and so”, I have realized to be thankful for the good moments you had with said person, for during those times when you were truly happy, you did not feel like you were wasting your time. How does the quote go? “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” As for the bad times, they were learning experiences. If you had not been with this person, and had not seen what worked for you and what didn’t, you wouldn’t know what to look for, (or what to stay away from), for your next relationship. I find, that no matter what, relationships are a huge opportunity for growth for both individuals involved.
“But you have to realize, nothing you have been through is ever wasted…”
Having different personalities can be a very good thing, (if you compliment each other well), but when it gets to the point where you can feel alarms going off and can see warning signs pop up constantly- reassess the situation. Do NOT allow yourself to feel stuck. It will not be until you are out of the situation that you will see how far you were gone; how far you let yourself go. There will come a time, when you begin seeing someone, and all of the lessons you have learned from past experiences will help you have the healthiest relationship you’ve ever had and you will realize, that the time you spent with others was not a waste.
You may not believe that it will happen, you might even be rolling your eyes at my burst of optimism, but trust me, you will meet someone who will allow you to be yourself, who won’t want to change you or mold you into what is better for them. Perhaps you picked up habits in your past relationships that, while they are not really you (not how you would truly react etc) you became so used to being that way for a person, that you simply did not realize it and it’s now an automatic response. The right person will help you get free from that, so you can be your true self. It will take time, but you will never be happier. There will of course be hard times; it is impossible for any relationship to be 100% perfect, but when you get through them in a healthy manner, that is when you know that none of your time will be wasted with this person, it will all be worth everything.
This does not only apply to relationships, of course. As mentioned in the quote, it could also be time you spent at a job or years you suffered from an addiction. Perhaps a friendship you invested a lot of time in or a location you lived in for far too long… it can be associated with every aspect of your life.
“Your past experiences, good and bad have deposited something on the inside of you. Those challenges have sharpened you to help make you who you are today.”
Overall, I have learned several things in the past ten years. Not only about the people I spend time with, but about myself. If I had not gone through all that I have, I would definitely not be who I am today. Do I think I am absolutely perfect now? No. I never will, but I am much happier with myself and I am lucky to have the support system I do. I am no longer drinking as a defense mechanism. I no longer feel the need to make myself temporarily numb so I don’t have to deal with my situation. I am now, slowly but surely making changes to make my life better and to make the most out of the time I have.
I have had my share of ups and downs, we all have. No two experiences are the same, but if you want to talk to me about anything, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment below, or find me on Facebook if you want to message me there. I would love to chat if you need to vent, or discuss a situation you may be in.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that time spent with someone can actually be a waste or is it all just a learning experience? Let me know!