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« stop judging: 4 reasons, 5 things, 6 ways | Main | love, love, love who you are now »

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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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