Riding Trains

Image credit: thefabweb.com

This is one of those pictures you have to look at a few times before you realise just exactly what is going on.  When I realised she was riding between carriages on a train my immediate thought was “I’d never do that”.  But another part of my mind quickly clicked in and said, “You did it all the time”.  Scary!

I love riding on trains and when I lived in the northern suburbs of Wellington, NZ one of the best things about the suburb was that I could ride the train into the city.  It was great.  It was a completely different feeling than the bus that my then, husband chose to use.  But let me be clear, I never rode like this woman in Bangladesh, and always managed to pay my way.  That said, at the same time in other areas of my life, I was taking these risks all the time.  Actually perhaps I was taking  bigger risks.  It certainly involved my life.

I rode trains that I thought other people thought I should ride.  I was unsure of who, and what I was, so tried to imitate,, somehow the lives of other people around me.  There were so many things I didn’t know and that made me pretty naive.  It was all too easy to jump a train and only realise later, even now, that it was the wrong train.  Those trains often took me into dangerous situations and sometimes I look back at the decisions I made and feel so dumb.  How could I be that stupid?

Perhaps one of the dumbest things I did was get on a train by marrying the man I did, because again it took me into dangerous places.  Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t the danger.  The danger was what that commitment did to my head when, while I loved him, I wasn’t in love with him.  I talked myself into believing that my gut feeling was wrong and I think my uncertainty of who I was contributed to not knowing what, or who it was that I needed.    I thought I would be protected by marrying him.  I thought I would feel safe finally.  I wanted to be loved and that’s what I was being offered.  Riding that train (called marriage to the wrong person) however nearly killed me (literally) more than once.

I think I’m getting a better idea now of who I am, and what I need.  The way that has happened for me has been a heck of a lot of on-going therapy and a couple of special people who believed in me.  It also helped that I am learning to accept that they believed in me.  A hard lesson, when I haven’t believed in myself, but an essential one in terms of learning to valuing myself.

Over the years I have made some really dumb choices about which trains to get on, and for that matter, which trains to jump off way too soon.  I’ve got hurt, and I know I’ve hurt other people in the process.  In many different ways.  Not the least being the man I married, and then divorced.  He got hurt big time.  The thing is though, that I’m starting to realise that what I have done, the decisions I have made, were done because at the time I believed it to be the best choice.  With what I knew at the time, it was the only choice to make.

I think I have to be gentle enough on myself that I forgive myself for those things.  I think if I go on regretting the things I did or didn’t do, I will never be free.  And I know now, that I want to be free.  Those trains happened and often they hurt badly and left deep scars, but I’m doing my best to move on from it all anyway.  And forgiving myself.

“It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.”

– Maya Angelou

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13 thoughts on “Riding Trains

  1. What a beautiful post, Cate. I love how you wove that image of the woman teetering between the train cars into your own experience and the various death-defying risks you have taken on your own “trains.” What a creative and evocative way of expressing your journey. I sit here deeply moved and touched in a very personal, reflective manner. Though I cannot relate to the marriage portion, having never made it that far with any of my significant others,

    1. So much of how you feel, so many of the sentiments you’ve so eloquently shared here, rang comfortingly true to my own uneven history and the feelings of remorse for those I may have hurt along the way and sadness for my own brokenness. I have faith that eventually both you and I will find ourselves on a train that takes us to the good place we each deserve to find. Maybe we’re already on it and don’t know it. Those old, rocky train trips never leave us, but we can learn from them and even be strengthed by what they showed us. Thank you for another thought-provoking and wonderful post, Cate. 🙂

      1. Thanks Eileen. You know I have a feeling that we’re on our way to that good place. I know some days it still doesn’t feel like it, and especially after the tough time you’ve been through but I am sure the seed is planted, and we’re at least sitting on the right train. I guess now we just have to know how to stay on and when to hop off. 🙂

  2. Wonderful stuff. I love the train metaphor, it’s just perfect. Like you, I took the wrong train when I got married. Mine apparently had no brakes and no lights, which meant tunnels were always a living nightmare. As it sped on, I saw a lot of friends standing at stations where the train just refused to stop. In the end, there was an horrific crash.

    Now I refuse to catch a train for anyone. I have my own wings, and I fly 🙂

    1. It is isn’t it and the thought that she has to do that every day is awful. And yes, I agree. It is much harder to forgive myself than forgive someone else.

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