stop judging: 4 reasons, 5 things, 6 ways
love, love, love who you are now

who's afraid of the big, bad past?

 

Reflecting 
  
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed the mountain and I turned around
I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child in my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too

Take my love, take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection
in the snow-covered hills
Well, the landslide'll bring it down
The landslide'll bring it down

Fleetwood Mac

 

 


Last night the past smacked me right in the face. I was just standing, stone cold sober in a loud and messy bar, when it walked up to me and gave me a firm, hard slap in the face. It was one of those moments when everyone around me was exclaiming, "Oh, wow! What a small world!" and "So funny! I can't believe you two know each other!" while I stood there in shock. It was the first time I'd been to that bar since I'd stopped drinking. It was the first time  in a long time that I'd even thought about that part of my past. And, I'll be honest with you, it hurt. I felt my chest tightening. I felt my lungs sucking in air as if I might stop breathing. I felt my heartbeat pick up speed and the skin on my face shading to that lovely shade of crimson (it's favorite shade when all eyes are on me). My palms were sweaty and my mind was chanting, "Run. Run. Run. Run." I forced a smile. I released a few awkward laughs. I said more than I should have, my words tumbling out before I had the chance to remind myself that they might have been the best things to tell a stranger. I clutched my keys in my sweaty palm, overly conscious that I was holding car keys while everyone around me held a glass or a bottle. I was in panic mode. Every bone in my body, every muscle in my mind, was telling me to run, to get the hell out of the bar and never come back.

 

Sounds dramatic, yes?

 

For me, it was. It was one of those OMG moments that makes you literally want to crawl into a hole and never come out. And this particular situation was just dripping with so many OMG moments that I was drenched by the time I left the bar. The part of my past that I'd run into was the part I'd wanted to escape. In fact, it was two-fold. Part of it related to the me in California and part of it related to the me in high school. I want to be neither of these people and I've come so, so far from who I was then. So why was it coming back to haunt me? Why was it this time -- this first time that I was back in an old hangout -- that I was faced with this situation? I am happy now, so why did this (or, rather, these) encounters make me so unhappy?

As I crawled into bed last night I pondered these questions. I wondered why I was so deeply disturbed my the situation. If I was so happy now, why was I letting the past get to me? I tossed and turned for a bit, unusually unsettled in my own bed. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why something that happened years and years and years ago could affect me so much right now. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to push my emotions away, but I didn't. I sat with them. I let them be what they were. I tried to be objective about them and remind myself that I feel this way right now and that's okay. It will pass, but ignoring it is not the way to make it go away (oddly enough). I was proud of myself. I could have asked for a drink at the bar to cut the tension in my nerves, but I didn't. I could have come home and indulged in a full-out crying session, raising my eyes to the ceiling and moaning, "Why me?!" but I didn't. I could have done at least a dozen self-destructive things (and, believe me, they all crossed my mind), but I didn't. I sat with the feelings. I accepted them. And then I made positive choices.

 

I walked the dog for longer than I usually would (which she loved).
I read a bit of a great book (The Geography of Bliss...so good.).
I made two phone calls to people who listened and who made it feel better.

 

I made better choices than I think I have in a long time. I chose not to embrace self-pity and indulgence in my negative emotions. I chose to do positive things, while still remembering to acknowledge my feelings. I was -- and still am -- very proud of myself. If I had the courage to write about the way I once was on this site, you would see that I have great reason to be so proud of these seemingly mundane decisions.

When I woke this morning, it took a full 30 minutes before I remembered what had happened last night. I was so caught up thinking about the new blog I'm working on, about celebrating a good friend's birthday, about positive things, that it took me awhile to recall the negative. This, I thought to myself, had to be a good sign. I had come a long, long way over the past few months. Only...after giving it some thought, I realized this shockingly upsetting fact: Last night I was very uncomfortable with who I was.

The whole time I was faced with meeting new people and running into the past (including some people from a decade before, when I was a totally different girl), I was thinking to myself: Do I look okay? Why did I choose to wear this outfit? God, I wish I'd showered before coming out. I wonder if I look different to them. What does this new guy think of me? I wonder what they remember about me. (At this point my mind flashed back to some of my stellar performances when I was staring in the role of The Drunkest Girl in the Room...let me just say, I should've been an award-winner...) This morning it dawned on me how many times I thought about the way I looked, about the words that were coming out of my mouth (oh god, I'd said too much!), about the impressions I was making vs. the impressions I had made in the past. I realized that, after all that I wrote yesterday about judging, I was doing A LOT of judging of myself.

Not cool. Not cool at all. Why was I being so hard on myself? It didn't seem like anyone was judging me. Those I hadn't seen in awhile said, "You look great!" Everyone was happy to engage in playful banter with me. So why I was being so hard on me? Diane Von Furstenberg once said, "The secret is to enjoy being you." Clearly I was not enjoying being me. And clearly this was making me unhappy. And then, this morning, I realized -- in one of those perfect aha! moments -- that I wasn't necessarily unhappy with who I was last night; I was unhappy with who I used to be. I was unhappy with the person I used to be, the only person that people from my past knew me as. I wanted to be the me I am now back then and obviously that wasn't possible. I recalled a quote (sorry, don't know who said it) that I'd copied into a notebook the other day:

 

Strive to live unrestricted by your past.

  

Apparently I wasn't doing this so well. I was letting my past -- which I'd neatly folded and shoved under my bed, hoping it would never be seen again -- infiltrate my present. I was letting who I was impact, to a great extent, who I am now. Of course, the past will always be with us. We cannot undo what has been done. We cannot go back in time and make better choices (but how I wish we could!). All we have is now. And, the way I see it, we cannot let the past (especially the bad parts of it) take over. I've worked so hard over the past six months at trying to be a happier, more positive person. I am not about to let one awkward night of revisiting the past take that away from me. I am putting my foot down.

Okay...so...the foot is down. Now what? It's one thing to say I'm not going to let it get to me. It's quite another to actually do something about it. So I've rounded up some pretty awesome quotes about the past and I'm going to use each of them to make this situation better for myself. I bet you've been in a similar situation (or someday might be) and these might help you out too. It's not easy to live in the present. I try. I really, really try, but I'm not always there. Sometimes I get sucked back into the past, caught up in thinking about what might have been or what I think should have been. But, as I'm sure you know, it's pointless. You can't go back. You can only be here now. Focusing on the now is what I'm striving to do, and I really believe I can overcome this little hurdle and come out even stronger because of it.

 

5 Ways to Battle the Big, Bad Past


#1: Don't Forget to Let Go

Strength is measured not
by holding on, but by letting go.

Len Santos

 

This was the very first quote I came across and, by far, my favorite. Of course, literal strength can be measured by holding on, but figuratively it takes a lot of strength to let go. For whatever reason, most of us really want to cling to the past. We want to hold on and keep it with us and relive it over and over again in our minds. But that's not healthy. You know that. I know that. We deserve better from ourselves. We deserve to be free, to be unrestricted by what is over and done with. I know how difficult it is to let go. I have spent many a night lying awake revisiting memories and wondering what I could have done or how I can undo what has been done. But there's no going back. I don't think it's healthy to ignore your past or completely forget it, but I do think it's necessary to let it go. Is there a difference between forgetting and letting go? Yes, I think so. You must know what was and do your best to understand it and then you must set it free to be what it is: something you will never get back. That might sound like a downer thing to say, but it is the truth. The past is over. Accept it. Let go. Move on.

#2: Tolerate Its Differences

The past is a foreign country.
They do things differently there.

Leslie Poles Hartley

 

I remember the past in bits and pieces, as most of us probably do. It's never a clear cut, exact memory. I remember what I want to and I know this. But I have a hard time, especially these days, understanding that life I used to live. How could I keep doing the same things over and over when they kept hurting me? How could I spend so much of my time with people who treated me badly? Why didn't I see how important it was to make a change? How could I have wasted all of those years? I look back and I frown in disappointment. Why was I the way I was? I don't understand (though I'm certainly working on it in therapy!). I don't get it sometimes, as much as I want to. And that's why I love this quote. It's important to understand that we might not always understand. And that's okay. It's okay to not know exactly why things happened the way they did. It's okay to look back at your past and see a foreign land, with signs all written in a language you can't understand. It's not necessarily easy to accept this, but it's important. We don't have to understand everything. We can try (and probably should), but it's okay to recognize that our memories and our interpretations are imperfect.

 

#3: Embrace the Now

You can clutch the past so tightly
to your chest that it leaves your arms
too full to embrace the present.

Jan Glidewell

 

Such a beautifully expressive quote, isn't it? We have the ability to restrict our present by clinging too tightly to the past. In my case, I wanted to completely forget the past and pretend like it never happened. I viewed it as this horrible, how-could-you? thing that I wanted to run away from. But, in my vicious attempts to avoid it, I was somehow also clinging to it. I wasn't letting go (see the first quote) and I wasn't really, truly moving on from it. By not dealing with it, I was allowing it to stay with me. By not accepting that it was gone and I couldn't change it, I was, in my own way, clinging desperately to it. And, in doing that, I wasn't leaving enough room for the now. How in the world can I really embrace living in the now if the slightest remembrance of the past sends me into a tailspin of chaotic emotions? I haven't dealt with the past properly and I'm still holding on. I need to let go and make room for the present, for the new and positive me.

 

#4: Use What You Can

Everything you live through helps
to make you the person you are now.

Sophia Loren

 

It's not easy to look back at the bad and find the good. It's so much easier to just write off your bad experiences and hope they don't happen again. But your past -- regardless of how much you want to forget it -- is part of you. You cannot deny that. So, my advice? Use it to your advantage. Take what you can from what you've been through and learn from it. Sure, this isn't easy. Sure, it requires a lot more work than just being thankful you don't have to go back to your past. But it's worth it. You can learn from everything. There is always something new to discover about yourself and understanding why something happened in the past is a great way to do this. You are who you are now because of the past, so make the best of what you went through. I certainly know that I've learned a lot from my mistakes (even if I did have to make them over and over again to finally get it). I wouldn't be who I am if it weren't for the bad times. We can always learn, but that learning process is a choice. You can keep going on, not thinking about what is behind you, or you can take another look and expand your mind by learning from your experiences.

 

#5: Know Your Limits

You cannot see the past that did not happen
any more than you can foresee the future.

Madeleine L'Engle

 

I don't know about you, but I have a special talent for making the past seem a lot better or worse than it was. I romanticize situations. I demonize people. Yes, I know this isn't healthy, but I think to some extent we all alter the past with our current perceptions. And we invent imaginary ideas of what could have happened. It's important not to go back and think about what could have been. When you start to think of "could haves," remember this: It could have happened that way, but it didn't. And, as the quote suggests, you don't know what the outcome of that so-called preferred situation. Everything, I believe, happens for a reason. Sometimes it's not clear what that reason is. Sometimes I don't think ever really becomes clear. But I think there's a reason. And you have to accept that. You have to realize that you should not go back in your mind and create "could have" situations. What happened, happened. There is no undoing it, and it's really not healthy to go back and analyze make believe situations. Know the limits of your past. Know the limits of your mind. Go back and think about the past, learn from it if you can, but don't dwell there, thinking about what could have been.

 

Well, there you have it -- my two cents on how to deal with a past you'd rather forget about. Though I have to say I would really like to go back to yesterday and have made the choice not to go to the bar, I do think that a cathartic post came out of it. I feel better after writing this. I feel like I have a plan, like I can deal with the past that I've been trying to avoid. It's not going to be painless, I'm sure of that, but I know it will make me a better person. If I deal with my emotions (even the bad ones!) I'll be much better off than if I try to pretend I'm not feeling a certain way. I still feel a tightness in my chest when I think about last night and all of the baggage that comes along with it. I still feel myself catch my breath when I think about what the future could bring, the potential it has to twist and tangle itself around my past. But I think I'm ready to take this on. I'm reading to stop avoiding and start living in the now.

How do YOU handle things about your past that you'd rather avoid? How would you react if you were faced with them?

Comments

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I, for one, am really glad you went to that bar. So much good came out of it, both for you and me! (Me-from-the-past would care far more about the latter). I have many times in my life played the role of drunkest girl in the bar. Just as often, I made a fool of myself, forced other people to take care of me, and woke up feeling ashamed. For a long time, I felt pangs of overwhelming emotion when I recalled some of the choices I made (and dealt with that very destructively).

What's hard for me is to realize no matter how much progress I make, it isn't black and white. It's not like "old me" is dead. She's just learning to be smarter. Sometimes I look a lot different than her, sometimes I look like shades of her, and other times, I look like the little girl who didn't realize she'd become her. I deal with pieces of my past I'd rather forget by remembering who I became through those experiences. If I didn't struggle as I had, I wouldn't have the insight I have now. And I wouldn't know to stay open to all the new insights I'll learn in time. I don't love the memories, but I love knowing I can use them to empower myself. In a way, I'm grateful for all those times I gave in to weakness. It makes the strength I feel on most days now so much more fulfilling.

Thank you, Dani. I love reading your stuff.

Lori

I call what you experienced last night facing the demons. You were right to sit with the past a bit rather than trying to avoid your feelings about it. How I deal with such situations: make myself "stay" rather than run away. Conquer the cravings, the emotions, the demons. Remember the lessons, and forgive...especially myself.

Lori - I'm so glad to know I'm not alone in some of the things I've gone through. I love the insights you've provided here. I love the idea of using memories to empower yourself. That's such a great thing to do and I think I can do it too. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot that you've shared your own experience with me and helps me to think about the way I deal with things in a different way. Thank you!!

Karen - I like that -- "facing the demons". That's definitely what I was doing when I sat with my feelings and, actually, I'm feeling better now because of it. I can't say that I'm totally over it now, but I've been focusing on the positive things in my life and getting great support from the friends and family who love me and I feel much better about where things are now. Thanks for your inspiring comment!

oooh the past...I do what I can to let go...but what I find is that I am surrounded by people who can't. My mother is big on this...she is still holding on to things that are over 40 years old...So, I'm faced with it, because she drags it up ever chance she gets...I can't even forget what happened two weeks ago, because she has twisted it to her own advantage...whic is simply to stew in pain.

I applaud you...What I have learned is that every chance is another chance to do it better...So you didn't handle it the best this time, I bet if confronted with it again...you will do much better.

I thank you for passing on your lesson...

I find that the past pops up at the most inconvenient times. Just when I thought I forgot, **ping** there it is again. I keep telling myself that I did the best I could with what I had (however little) at the time, then I try to accept it and forgive myself. We tend to be really hard on ourselves and it's just not worth the stress. We're human and we're learning all the time.

Thanks for writing this lovely post - truly, your blog is a wonderful place to spend some time. I'm grateful you started it because it's so enjoyable to come here and read your words and thoughts.

I have a difficult time with my past as well. Good for you for having the strength to deal with it and also write about it. Thanks for sharing. As for me, I think I'll continue actively avoiding some parts of my past for now. But when I'm ready, I'll think of you for inspiration.

Dawn - Oh, that's really tough when you are surrounded by people who can't let go of the past! If I were you, I would do what you can to avoid the negativity produced by someone who can't let go of what is over and done with. And if you can't do that, I'd say try to focus on the positive (even when those around you don't seem to).

Laurie - As for dealing with the past, I think you're right in saying that we're often too hard on ourselves. I think I was expecting too much of myself, hoping to just not care that the past had crept up on me out of nowhere. Anyone would have been shocked and upset and I don't think I should be so critical of my reactions. I'm so glad you enjoy reading the blog. Your comment meant a lot to me because I put a lot into my writing and it's great to know that people really enjoy it.

Vi - It's certainly not easy and I don't think I'm necessarily dealing with everything that I need to, but I'm taking small steps in the right direction. I hope that someday you do the same, because it does feel good to deal with the past (even if it's just a little bit at a time). Thanks for your comment!

I don't enjoying running into my past either, especially if it stirs up bad experiences. But that happens, right!? It's how you handled it that made a difference. Talk about growth! You did good!

Hi Dani,
First off, thank you for being so honest and open here. And sharing part of your journey with us. It's all making me think - and especially about what you said - the aha moment - being unhappy with the person you used to be and that being how people from your past knew you. I can relate to this so well. I find that I've changed a great deal over the years, as I've allowed myself to become more who I really am. And I love where I'm at today.

Living in the present - in the moments we have - that's what we do have today. The past is what it is, and we move on... I love the Santos quote about letting go - yes letting go of the past and moving on. A good place to get to.

Dani, thanks so much, once again - for this post. You are real, and this post is such a refreshing read (even if it may have been difficult to write)... I appreciate you sharing this so much.

I like what Karen wrote about facing, and even embracing, our "demons." I'm finding more and more that things we try to turn away from (resist) don't leave until we're ready to accept them in their totality. You made a wonderful point about judging yourself --- you recognized how judgmental you were being in that situation. Love, love and more love --- for ourselves and others. That's freedom.

Caroline - Thanks for the praise! It wasn't easy for me to handle the situation well (or to write about it) so I really appreciated reading your words.

Lance - It definitely wasn't very easy for me to share this post with the world, but it feels great to read reader responses and to know that others can relate (and help me even more than I've helped myself). Living in the present moment is so important. As several friends have reminded me, I've come a long way and I should be really proud of who I am today. I have to focus on this person, living in this life, and not let the past get to me. Thanks for your comment!

Megan - Completely agree with what you've said about love. It's SO important to love ourselves and others. Have you ever heard Tristan Prettyman's song "Love Love Love"? It's one of my favorites. Perhaps I'll write a post about it soon!

Hi Dani, great post, so raw and honest. I think you came up with some wonderful lessons and if last night repeats itself you will be much better prepared to face it openly and peacefully. My favorite thing about your experience is what you did afterward. It shows such great strength and tenacity that you took care of yourself and didn't choose self-destructive behavior. That really shows how far you have come and it's wonderful! I also think it is great that you felt positive this morning. It is so hard to let a dramatic experience go and to keep it from rattling around in your head for days on end. You handled it with grace, my blogging friend!! Have a wonderful day. I'm already looking forward to your next post!

I loved this post, so beautifully honest and true. I could feel your shock and disorientation. Thank you for the lovely quotes and life lessons xx

Jodi - I agree. Next time I will be much more prepared and I'm very thankful for that. And I'm very proud of myself for the way I handled it, which is always a good feeling. Thanks so much for your comment. It really does mean a lot to me!

RML - You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the post. And I'm glad I was able to convey the way I was feeling to you as a reader. It's not always easy to do that so I'm glad you were able to see how I was feeling!

Don’t try to forget your past. Much of our identity is based on everything from our past, from our memories and our history. Personally I tried the “forget the past” tactic. What I learned was I didn’t forget anything; I just avoided anything that resembled past situations. What I actually did was shut down that part of me. Each time I said I am going to forget the past, I blocked a memory. My world got smaller!


Some people, they are stuck in the past; they keep doing what they have been doing over and over again. The fact that you didn’t drink and you found a new way to deal with things, shows that you are making peace with it and working on taking the lessons with you.


When you are secure and confident with yourself, you are able to stand strong when other are judging you. It sounds like you are right there; you just need to stop the judgmental voice inside you. Give yourself the forgiveness to move forward.

Have no shame in your past; it had made you who you are. You are like a diamond, your pass was what’s needed to polish you and turned you into the diamond that you are today. Be proud of that. Share your story; those who love you are privilege to share your pain. Show them what it takes to become a Diamond.

Thank you for sharing. PS. I have not drink in nearly 5 years.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Thanks for a tremendously powerful post. I think about the past a lot, but more as a means to not return to it. There is good and bad back there, and even though I could have made better decisions, I did not. Perhaps there is or was a reason I had to go through what I did, call it destiny or karma, perhaps. Things turned out relatively well, and I am grateful for a lot.. We can only make decisions concerning the present, and so this is where I try to live (mostly). Thanks for the post and the helpful quotes.

Whoa, I think I just had an epiphany while reading this!

When my first husband left me, I was absolutely devastated and also angry. That was ten years ago and while sometimes things from that time still emerge, I honestly thought I'd accepted the past and let it go and moved on. And technically, I had. I don't love him anymore and I haven't in years. I'm happily remarried, and I don't long for what once was. I rarely think of the separation and divorce. But just because I don't love him anymore doesn't mean I'm actually completely over what happened.

When I read your first quote about accepting and letting go and moving on, it suddenly hit me: I've always resented not getting to have my say in the matter. I've always resented that he was in total control and I didn't get any input. I didn't get to rage or fight or defend myself or tell him how I felt. He also took advantage of how torn apart I was and left me with almost nothing. I was utterly powerless, and I think I still hold onto my bitterness over that.

But who cares now? It's so over. It's so ten years ago. Not only do I need to accept that he left me (I think a part of me, perhaps pride or ego, still reels from that rejection, that feeling that I wasn't good enough, though it doesn't matter because I don't need to be good enough for him anymore), but I also need to accept and let go and move on about not getting my say. None of that matters anymore or would actually make any difference whatsoever. I think of that line from The Pursuit of Happyness, when he tells his kid "Mom left because of Mom," and I realize that it's true in my case, too. K left because of K, not because of me. I even know that already. I just need to accept it and let it go and move on.

Thanks for this.

One thing that has helped me deal with things I have done in the past (and forgive myself) is to realize that I was a completely different person then. If presented with those same situations today, I would have dealt with them completely differently.

It is important to take responsibility for our actions, but it is also important to understand that we are constantly growing. (Well, if we are living life the right way.)

P.S. I LOVE "The Geography of Bliss"!

Hi Dani. I appreciate your honesty. What came to me when you were asking why this happened, was "Because you are ready". There is still some more learning here and you are ready for it. I love how you linked to the different quotes throughout your writing. You have a talent for linking and connecting ideas together. What do you think those people from the past might have learned from themselves through their interactions with you back then?

Hi Dani,

What a powerful post.

The quote "You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. (by Jan Glidewell) nails it for me. Although our past makes us who we are today, it doesn't have to predict who we become in the future.

Our today becomes our yesterday thus giving us the power to write our past. You're on the right path. Enjoy the journey.

Giovanna - I agree that it's not healthy to forget your past, but it IS important to remember that it's the past. It's over and done with and we can only live in the present moment. And in the present moment, you're right, I need to stop listening to the judgmental voice inside of me and realize that I've come a long way. I should be happy with who I am and embrace the changes I've made in my life. I love what you wrote about the diamond -- what a beautiful analogy! And that's great that you haven't had a drink in over four years!! Congrats!

Pat - It's definitely important to acknowledge the past (both good and bad). It's not helpful to dwell there but it's not helpful to avoid it completely either. I guess it's all about finding a balance while trying to live in the present moment as much as we can.

Steph - Thank you so much for sharing your story in your comment. It means so much to mean to hear about other people who are dealing with similar past situations. They aren't pleasant and your comment make me feel a lot less alone. I love that quote from the Pursuit of Happyness (though I've never seen the movie...it was in the preview). That's SO true and we all should remember that when we are feeling as though we were abandoned (or, really, even when we are just hurt by someone...because typically people hurt others because of their issues with themselves). I'm so glad this post helped to remind you of what, deep down, you already knew. K left because of K, and, to quote you, "that was SO ten years ago." I'm sure you are a much better, happier, self-assured person now and you should embrace that -- just as I need to embrace who I've become now! Thanks again for sharing.

Hayden - That's a good point. I need to remember that I was different then and now I would react totally differently. It doesn't change what's happened, but it makes me realize that I've come a long way. Good advice! And, yes, Geography of Bliss is great! :) I'm tempted to pull out my Kindle right now...but I don't know how much my boss would like that. Haha.

Davina - I love what you wrote in your comment. I always believe things happen for a reason and you're probably right -- this happened because I was ready to deal with it, to learn from it, and to share my experience so that others might learn as well. I definitely didn't think about it like that and that's a great (and positive!) way to see it. And that's a great question you posed because it made me realize that (1) I probably wasn't as bad as I thought I was and (2) Other people have probably changed a great deal too and are probably open to the idea that I've changed...Very interesting question. And thanks for the compliment about my writing. :) That made me smile!

Barbara - Thanks for the encouragement. It really helps to hear from others that I'm on the right path. I love what you wrote about how the past makes us who we are today, but doesn't predict who we will be in the future. That is SO true. I have been shaped by my past, but, by making choices in the present moment, I am shaping my future. Such a great way to think about it. Thank you!

I've accepted that the past can't be undone. It is what it is. Through the amends process, I've gone back and re-visted my past and made amends to those that I wronged. But first I made amends to myself. That helped me a lot. I've also learned that the only time for me is this day. That I need to make the most of each day. That has helped me a lot.

I always say that what has happened already happened. We can do nothing but look forward and learn (not dwell on) from the past.

Syd - I think that's what I need to do, make amends to myself and to those who I've hurt. It would probably make the past a lot easier to deal with.

Meream - It's definitely important not to dwell on the past. There's no going back. But sometimes we are faced with it (like I was in this situation) and, in those cases, it's important to deal with it in the best, most positive way we can.

That's quite the post ... story, drama, action, suspense, and lessons!

For me, the big guiding rules are, "find the lesson" and "carry the lessons forward." When it really sucks, I just ask, "how to make the most of it?" and "what's my best move for the situation?"

J.D. - Well, it was quite a situation! :) Those are great ideas for dealing with the past. Thanks for sharing them!

I can't believe that you wrote this! I mean, I can, but this is so spookily another instance of "Were you sitting at the table with me last week when the past came and slapped me in my face?"

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful post, Dani. There is so much meat here to feast on that it is hard to know where to place my comment. Like you, I had the realization one day that my unhappiness was with who I used to be. And when I had that realization, I also realized that it was time to begin a bit of loving and forgiving ... of myself, my past self. This is not a finished process. This old girl still likes to pop back up every now and again, and when she does, I forgive her again. But this happens less and less now. Thank goodness! :)

Wow PP, powerful post. I for one believe you were meant to have this experience for a couple of reasons;

- You got to practise making different and much healthier decisions.
- To prove to yourself that you can cope with the past and that if something like this happens again you won't spontaneously combust.
- To learn a bunch of life changing lessons (especially the one about sitting with emotions and not avoiding them).
- To practise being positive and happy.
- To help all of us to learn about dealing with our past. It actually made me think about what I'd do if I ran into my ex-husband and gave me some great ideas on how I could cope with that if it happened. A big thank you from me!

Chania Girl - Wow! It sounds like we are on the same page once again! I'm so glad you liked the post and I love what you wrote about forgiving yourself. I think that's such an important element of this whole process and I really need to work on that.

Sami - What a great summary of what I did here. Thank you! Reading your comment made me realize just how important this post was -- for me, and for my readers. I'm so happy to know that you took something away from it. Dealing with the past is certainly not easy, but there are definitely productive, positive ways to do it.

Much of our past traumas lie locked in our subconscious mind. We cannot try to forget them therefore since they are there. It is best that we face up to them, embrace them for what they were, and then gently put them down. It is time to move on, rather than carry the heavy burden around. I'm glad to know that you went through a process of letting go and being free of yours!!

Evelyn - I agree. We're SO much better off if we just face things rather than trying to avoid/ignore them. It might work temporiarly, but they will always come back. It's been a little bit of a rocky road trying to sort it all out, but it really helps to have the support here on my blog. Thanks for the comment!

The part about enjoying being yourself...I wrote a post awhile back about that. Picture yourself as a child about 5 years old, full of wonder and curiosity. What would happen if you told that little boy or girl all the nasty things we say about ourselves on a daily basis? It would destroy them. Yet we do it to our adult selves all the time.
So now whenever I feel negative or down on myself, I picture that little girl I used to be and tell her how wonderful she is. I find we tend to be way more forgiving of others than we are of ourselves and that is really sad.

Shannanigans - What a great idea! It's so true that we judge our younger selves so differently than our older selves. It really is amazing. I'm going to start think of myself like that little girl and be kinder to myself. Thanks for this comment!

Dani,
First let me say that I copied and pasted your quotes and printed them to post on my "quotes to live by" bulletin board. They were truisms to go along with your powerful and beautiful honesty.
I was just thinking myself of a line in the movie"Never been kissed", where Dre Barrymore says"this is a humilating story, but I could not have explained what I learned without sharing how I came to do so".
That is our past - painful, often shameful stories of (hopefully) who we WERE, NOT who we ARE.
Dawn wrote:"...but what I find is that I am surrounded by people who can't. My mother is big on this...she is still holding on to things..." Man- that is EXACTLY like my mother. She doesn't mean to be, but it seems she knoes no other way that to stay floundering in the pain of the past, unable or unwilling to make a move forward. It is very difficult to deal with & as an only child, with she and my father divorced...there is only me to listen to her.
I try to set some personal boudaries and let her know when it's getting to be too much, but it is hard when it is your mom.
Forgiving ourselves is the hardest task to accomplish, but I believe that when we can remind ourselves that we are different people than the decisions we made, progress is forthcoming.
Yes, I regret, although, would I be who I ama today without those mistakes? No- so I must accept that to get here, I had to go through what I have and now I can learn to invest in a better me.
I love your posts -they are inspirational!
Stephanie

Stephanie - Thank you for commenting on this one. I actually really needed to re-read this today and I'm so glad you brought me back to this post. As you said, we can have regret in our lives and still be okay. We can realize that we may have made mistakes but we have learned from them and moved forward. We are not who we once were. I'm sure it is difficult to deal with your mother who seems to be stuck in the past, but you can choose to focus on you, in your present moment. Don't let others drag you backward. You deserve to happiness now, in the present moment. I'm so glad that you love my posts and that you find them inspiring. Revisiting this one tonight actually really helped me out too!

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