Relating With the Past
How do you relate to the past?
Does your past seem like a slavering beast, long of tooth and sharp of claw, that may jump out at you at any time? Do you live your life constantly looking over your shoulder, hoping your past is nowhere to be seen?
I have made mistakes; many small ones, and a few huge ones. These huge mistakes have haunted me all my life. I’ve been afraid to live in many cases because of them, just on the off-chance I might come face-to-face with one of them. The few times I have been confronted with one of my mistakes, the reaction has been something akin to a fight-or-flight reflex only I also regress back to being a teenager. Suddenly, I’m this scared kid when, really, there is nothing to fight or run away from. What happened, happened a long time ago. The people involved are very different people from the way they were at the time. Except, apparently, myself.
My relationship with these events has been frozen in time. Whenever I’ve thought about them, I become nineteen or twenty again, regardless of my age or the ages of everyone else involved. Why is that?
I think part of it is that I am worried about the people who are in my life now. I truly do not want them to be hurt by things that happened before I knew them. Maybe they aren’t as fragile as I think they are, and maybe they can handle these things. Let’s face it, though, no one really wants a lump of sodium tossed into the placid pool of their life.
So, recently someone I knew from around the time of one of my big mistakes just contacted me on Facebook. This person was intimately related to the situation, being friends with one of the other players, and again my first reaction was a Pythonesque “Run away! Run away!”. I politely told the person that the complications were too severe to be in contact. She replied with understanding, but pointed out that neither of us is the person we were 20+ years ago. This made me think.
Is the past a monster, biding its time until an opening allows it to destroy us, or is it merely a sequence of events that happened? If it is just a sequence of events, then what is there to be afraid of? That there may be consequences? I didn’t really think about it, but it’s obvious now that choices do not just have one consequence. They can have many consequences, stretching out the rest of one’s life. It is this running from consequences that has caused the most pain and suffering.
Certainly, putting yourself out there can cause pain, and that is a large measure of what I’ve been running from. Maybe the suffering caused by constant fear and paranoia is worse, though, than the fear of what may happen. All I know is that I’m tired of running and hiding from life.
Ironically, my hesitation (brought on by the aforementioned fear and paranoia) to discuss this with the one person who means the most to me now may have caused her more pain than had I talked about it when contact was first made yesterday.
tl;dr Don’t spend your life running from your past. You don’t have to love every mistake you’ve made, but you have to accept that the mistakes are yours and they have consequences.