Looking past the past
Looking ahead doesn’t mean that you no longer see the past. Some parts of your past are good and filled with love and joy. Other parts of the past are buried and quietly put away because they are too painful or disturbing.
All of us have both types of past. But, adults who have survived child abuse, sexual abuse, or abandonment have a special kind of buried past. We survivors blame ourselves for other’s actions. We hate to trust in the future because we are afraid it will be more of the same. So, we are stuck in this limbo between moving forward and forgetting the past. Neither direction is possible when you have unresolved trauma.
Your past always informs the present of what is or was reality. If there are no resolutions to the trauma, the past becomes the present. You can’t separate what was from what currently is. You can’t separate the child from the adult. The emotions and reactions to the emotions are the same as that small child that never learned to explore healthy ways of handling emotions or turmoil.
Obsessive “hoping” for your future can prevent your from appreciating the here and now. Life passes by while you are regretting the past and hoping for the future. You never real learn to live in the moment. Acceptance is a good substitute for the hope obsession. Accepting your past and letting go of the anxiety of the future makes the current days more pleasant. Making more pleasant days in the here and now will make positive memories for the future.
The wounds of the past may not have been your fault, but the healing is your responsibility. Sounds harsh but as adults, no one is going to heal your wounds except you. The road from dysfunction to wellness may not be easy or pleasant, but the payoff is rewarding. If you don’t learn from your past you will bring it into your future and probably repeat it. You cannot change what happened to you, but you can change how you react to it.
I’ve been working on talking about the memories, but still not confronting the emotions. For now, I can accept this path of healing and know it’s not going to be easy. If anything, it is the most difficult challenge of my life. And it’s one I frequently want to quit. But I don’t because I want to feel different in my heart and soul.
If you, as a survivor, are open to grieving the past, and letting go of the pain, you can make the present as good as you want it to be. It’s a risk worth taking. You have to accept the emotions rather than struggling or fighting with them.
My personal history does not have to be the legacy that I leave behind. I can make a new history. (at least this is what my self-talk should be).
MJ, you must allow the negative emotions to flow and not eat the present or future. Make the decision to let it go. Forgive the others, but mostly forgive yourself.
If you knew today were your last day, would it change what you are going to do today?
Until next time – I am being MJ every day!