I received an email from one of my favorite online acquaintances. In it, without giving away too much detail, she wrote,
How do you deal when your past keeps confronting you, if that’s a way to put it. For some reason now, I just can not stop thinking about my past. WHY? And I just cry. Is it telling me something? I don’t know. Sheena, I try to write in my journal but I just can’t seem to write it down.
Let me preface my response.
- I am not a doctor, psychologist, therapist or counselor. If you find that you are experiencing fits of rage, depression, sadness or etc, please consult a professional or go to the hospital. That’s important.
- This is all my perspective. My opinions are just one perspective of 7 billion. (I heard the population has reached 7 billion.)
How do I deal when the past confronts me?
Well, dear readers, it depends on HOW the past is confronting me. Is it a person from my past confronting me? How is that happening? For instance, it could be that I just happened to see a person from my past and it triggered something in me. That did happen. The first boy I chose to have sex with….well, it was a complicated matter that left me in shame, fear, secrecy, denial and pain. Many many many years later I just happened to “randomly” see him while waiting for the bus and I froze in fear. Is that how your past is confronting you? I remember when that happened, I also became so fearful that at any moment I might see my ex step father walking down the street. What would I do then? My old therapist told me to always keep $20 in my wallet, so at any moment I could hop in a taxi and get the fuck away. This is if you happen to stumble upon a person from your past.
But what about if your past is a person that is confronting you? A few years back I went to my great grandmother’s funeral knowing full well that a “family member” would be there that I did NOT want to see or be on the same planet as. I knew given their personality, they would use it as an opportunity in front of witnesses to passive aggressively say some shit to me. LORD, HELP ME! What did I do? I walked away. I’m not obligated or supposed to put up with people and their shit, family member or not. So I walked away. Is there someone confronting you in an unhealthy way? Walk away. If its a situation you want to deal with, then deal with it in a calm, non-defensive manner. If that’s not possible, LEAVE.
But maybe that’s not what my friend meant in her note? Maybe she meant the past is confronting her in her thoughts? Stop thinking about it. (Oh, you make it sound so simple, Sheena.) It is. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT unless you want to. Sometimes we need to think about the past in order to deal with it, address it and move through it. But sometimes we’re sitting at home, a scent triggers a memory and then we just give in to it. Okay, maybe you’re above all that. But it has happened to me. I can’t recall what it was but the next thing I know, a few weeks ago I was looking in my bathroom mirror playing the memories over in my head of my ex step father sexually abusing me as a child. The memory was so dark and perverted and hurtful and it made me physically ill. Then I realized about two minutes into playing this memory in my head, that I was choosing to do so. I shook my head and changed my thoughts. Later that day, the memory kept coming back…by my own choice, so I called a friend instead and talked about a guy I was dating. That turned into a 3 hour conversation and my mood had changed, I had a new blog post to write on business and it was time to meet someone for dinner. CHANGE YOUR MIND.
We feed the fire to the chanting demons turning circles in our head. All those fucking signs at the park say don’t feed the animals. There is a reason for that. The same goes for the stories in your head. Don’t feed them. Physically do something else. Call a friend and talk about something else. That is, if your intent is not to deal with the issue. When I was playing that memory of abuse in my head, I wasn’t trying to work through healing, I was just wading in a pity party. There is a difference. If you’re trying to work through it, okay. Do that. Journal. Call a friend and talk to them about it. Go to another therapy session. Deal with it. But if that’s not your intent but you keep playing the reruns over and over, turn the fucking tv of your mind off. (Sweetheart, who wrote me, I’m not swearing at you. This message is just as much for me as it is you and anyone else. And I have to give myself grace with grit thrown in. I was never a fluffy advice kind of girl but know that my fuck bombs are not to you.) Sometimes this stuff is going on because we’re playing the role of victim and martyr. Sometimes.
Maybe your past is confronting you because of your environment? Sometimes when a thought keeps going over and over in my head and I can’t pinpoint why, usually something in my environment is triggering it. Let’s say for instance, I keep replaying a fight I had with a friend over and over in my head. Even though I change my mind, I keep going back to it. There are usually reasons for it. For instance, maybe that fight with my friend keeps playing over and over in my head because a song is playing on the radio that reminds me of her. Or maybe that incense that I’m burning is one she gave me. Or maybe she just liked an image on instagram that a mutual friend put up and something about it eats at me. EGO NOT HAPPY. 🙂 We need to become more aware of ourselves to know these things. I don’t believe too much in “it just happened”, “i don’t know”, “there’s no explanation”, “there’s no reason”…. that usually means you don’t want to delve deep into the real issue. Become aware of yourself. Really name the shit.
In this same example, maybe thoughts of this argument with a friend keeps coming up because there are unresolved issues. You asked if “your past is trying to tell you something.” Could be? It could be that your ego is hungry for some bullshit or it could be that there are unresolved issues. Maybe I didn’t say everything I needed to say to that friend? Maybe I still have questions about it? Maybe I’m still just so fucking angry and I need to channel that anger either by writing or physically breaking something? Not break a person. But you know that scene in Grey’s Anatomy were they go in the room and break the casts? Like that. Don’t destroy someone’s property. That’s a crime. Destroy something that’s okay to break. Punch a boxing bag or something.
Also sometimes we just need to cry. Sometimes its not about a pity party or ego, sometimes we are just sad or lonely or scared or we miss them or a memory hurts or you’re grieving or that argument hurt your feelings and we just need to cry about it. Its okay to cry. Just don’t be sad forever. Don’t let it debiltate you. Don’t let it stop you.
Without knowing too many details about your situation, that’s all that I can say.
Name how your past is confronting you. Is it a trigger? A person? A memory? Your environment?
Pinpoint why its confronting you. Do you have unresolved issues? Is your ego hungry? Do you enjoy pity parties? Are you feeding the sad thoughts by dwelling on them?
Do something about it. Change your mind. Call a friend. Work on resolving the issue. Cry. Get professional help. Write it out. Dance it out. Break something…legally. Do some grounding techniques or breathing techniques. Meditate. Go for a walk. Talk it out.
The thing is this, it takes work. It takes work to heal. Healing, evolving, growing….isn’t a passive thing. Those are action words. Dwelling, wallowing…those are fairly easy to do without much effort. But to “change” your mind, means you have to do something. Why isn’t our default “happy”, “perfect’, “giddy”, “always okay.” I don’t know. Maybe because we’ve been groomed to think ourselves damaged. Maybe because for centuries we’ve been told we’re not good enough and for so many years we’ve gotten use to being victims and being sheep and not thinking for ourselves. Maybe that’s why the default isn’t “all is well” as we bake apple pies and hum with the birds. Who knows? So what it means is that it takes work! The effort will ease over time but that takes time. It’s not always easy but its always possible.
Lastly, this —> “Probably, no one ever told you that happiness is a choice. “ Evelyn in How to Beat the Blues of Melancholy here.