Achieving Innocence

Achieving Innocence

What does innocence truly mean?
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Innocence.

I have been pondering the term of innocence lately and what it truly means, what it means to my soul.

I reflect on my life and try to think about when I lost it, did someone take it from me? Was there one specific moment when I lost it?

I remember being a young girl looking at my parents as if they were invincible. I thought they knew all of the answers to my every question and that they would save me from everything that could ever hurt me. I believed that everyone had pure intentions and I trusted without fear.

Now I look at my parents and see that they are just as human as I. They have addictions, flaws, and do not have the answers I seek. Paranoia floods my brain every time I meet someone new and believe that everyone is cruel hearted.

I wish so badly I could put on the rose-tinted glasses of innocence that I saw life through during my childhood. Part of me believes that my education took away my innocent outlook on this life. I learned the horrors of war, the finality of death, and the vastness of the unknown. My mind was opened to the reality of the world and then I began to understand that the world did not revolve around me and my life.

In fact, in the grand scheme of things, I am nothing but a grain of sand that makes up a beach. My life experiences have chipped away at my once full block of innocence one by one. My first encounter with death, my first heartbreak, witnessing divorce, and my own poor decisions with brutal consequences all slowly consumed my innocence.

As an innocent child, I believed in everything and everyone believed in me. I think that most of us as adults are unknowingly just trying to achieve that state of being once again. I may never achieve that state of being again but I believe that all of us should attempt to make our hearts and minds as pure as they once were when we were green.

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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