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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ghosts of the Past

You cannot escape your past nor should you try to run away from it; it will always catch up to you.  I don't hide from my past but as I grow older I find I am less interested in revisiting uncomfortable remembrances of days gone by.  Growing up as an abuse survivor, (physical, mental, emotional, sexual) I sometimes experience a post traumatic stress syndrome feeling that locks me in place with depression.  I don't often write about my past abuse, it's uncomfortable for me to talk about so openly in a public forum.  Some old friends have recently resurfaced leading me to reexamine old behaviours in order to better understand myself.  There's a certain amount of curiosity and trepidation brewing.  Have the ghosts of my past come back not to haunt me but to be released and set right?

Over the month I've had a few reconnection's with old friends and acquaintances I knew in my 20's.  Mostly this has been a great thing, as I wrote about in my post Serendipity.  Revisiting who I was and how parts of me came to be has been enlightening and uplifting.  It's also been embarrassing remembering how immature I was when I thought I was so worldly.  In writing to an old friend I remarked that I spent so much of my 20's worrying about what other people thought and that I spent my 30's worrying about what I thought.  It's the truth, but not the whole truth.  A more accurate statement is that from the years of 19 to 30, I worried about what people thought about me; if I could control what people thought of me; and that I so desperately wanted to be loved.  This is an earth shaking revelation about myself.  It's the simple, basic and the core essence of my "issues" as a young adult.  In my experiences as a child abuse survivor, I realize that I allowed myself to continue patterns of my abuse in the ways I choose to be treated or "loved."  I choose partners who were controlling - verbally and sometimes physically abusive.  There were many friendships or emotionally intense relationships where the abuse was obvious; at other times by these "relationships" were destructive because I became friends or partners with people who were just plain wrong for me.  I dated straight or "married" women; I was friends or dated people with whom I had little in common except for surface connections or for the attention paid to me.  I was like a dog doing tricks in order to get attention or my belly scratched. I dated women who were maddeningly unavailable to me, whether they were already involved, too young, too old or too straight.  YES! Lesbians do this too, straight women don't have the lock getting involved with bad boys.  It was a game I played repeatedly for years until one day I truly had a light go off inside of me and I stopped.  Well, I stopped my unhealthy behavior because I had invested a lot of money and years in therapy, so sooner or later I had to hear what the hell I was talking about in the 45 minute hour.  Therapy paid off.  I stopped allowing myself to accept less than I deserved.  When I shut the door to that bad past I opened up my life to allow in a better future.  Healthy people and goodness came into my life, more than I ever imagined was possible.  It sounds cliched but once I worked on myself, stopped worrying about what others thought, I was free to start being a whole person.  The money and time spent on getting here was worth it.  I often say I spent my college tuition on therapy.  

I can't say that the ghosts of my past don't send a chill down my back when they appear, but I do feel more in control of the emotional upheaval that starts swirling inside of me.  I don't have to necessarily revisit the past but I also realize I can't pretend it didn't exist.  I've made my peace with most of what I thought were the intense relationships that defined me.  I don't miss my younger years because I still feel youthful and not stupid! As a mid-forty-something my priorities are entirely different in this decade than they were in the past two; I have a child, a long-term relationship, obligations and a full life.  I'm not necessarily looking to revisit the past nor do I wish to discard all traces of it.  Sometimes you have to have a break from it and come back without the rose colored glasses to see the authenticity of friendships that have or should be renewed.  And sometimes there's no agenda to be revealed.  A memory can just be a memory, to be fondly reviewed and and then lovingly put away.

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