Part 3 – The Past AND Peace?

Today I promised myself I’d get on with this dissertation on personal peace and facing the past.

So, here I am with part 3 in your face. [Refer to this particular blog entry for an example of lousy writing. I can feel it. This one will suck. But it’s coming out of me today or I’m officially a free-falling loser. (Maybe I’m more like Kiwi…)] 

I don’t know what my problem is but this one has roiled in frustration and stagnation for days. But I said I’d do this and I need to do this because it has been disgustingly appropriate that I’m landing on Part 3 and the PAST now. This is the week of finalizing the divorce details while my financial world slowly unravels and my college plans look to be held back ‘til January. So, divorce proceedings/paperwork etc. filed finally. I thought, since this has gone on and on, that I’d be dancing a jig at this point. Ignorantly, I thought I would be dancing by now. I really thought I’d be dancing this week. (yeah, you get the point) Wow. Wow. Wow. 

But no. I’ve been so down it’s like being slammed out of nowhere with the emotional ‘flu. Nothing and I mean NOTHING makes it go away. I was galloping along my path, confident and planning and SLAM. This “virus” is running its course, ignoring all my attempts to jumpstart my motivation, inspiration, endurance. Yadda yadda yadda. 

But I’m here and I’m kicking with the “’flu.” What about the past? Is it over? That’s the first thing I have had to deal with: whether or not the past is really in the past. How many crippling issues are still grabbing me by the ankles and jerking me down to the ground to deal with all kinds of garbage? It’s not like I doubt the choice. But what led me to this point? And how do I change whatever I can of myself that contributed to this outcome? Believe me, I’ve been working on it. But there is nothing like finality to bring back the dead. 

It’s not even as if peace has evaded me during this “down” time. I’ve felt it flowing right alongside the … grief inside me. Peace and grief with occasional outbursts of laughter and. But the past is in the past, right? 

Actually, on so many levels it is and especially in my heart and mind. But on other levels pretty damn significant, issues are still finding their closure. If I were ignoring all of this, saying my umpteenth ohm in the face of it all, would I be better off? No, not me. I’d end up exploding somewhere down the path in total frustration over all that I’d been studiously trying to ignore. There would have been no peace. It would’ve been a nervous nonstop motion of evading concerns and grouchy eruptions. Okay, yes. I had a couple grouchy eruptions. And then I felt very peaceful afterwards. Non-stop peace is not human and I might even end this post with a total ousting of the whole point of my multi-part posit. Puh.

But back to the point. What makes acknowledging the injuries of the past and their continued influence on today a truly worthwhile endeavor? 1) That acknowledgement makes us aware of what we may be projecting as opposed to what is really going on. 2) Awareness may helps us see how we can change our responses to recurring themes. We become trained by what happened back then and when and well. And we don’t even know it. Then life tosses us some interesting scenarios and we find ourselves lost in reactions against the person who just stepped on our toes and suddenly standing there in the present is dad, mom and so and so way back then who always did this. Or? Or we know our past and we know our internal culture of reaction/response. And we recognize the emergence of our identification with all that happened long ago. And because of that awareness we pull back and ask vital questions before we start taking potshots at big sister posing there in the seemingly innocent newfound friend. 

The question vital in such a process? “How is this scenario a potential repeat of history and, if so, how can I be the changed response as opposed to the same ole victim or bully identifying with the past?” It’s uncanny how often many of us attract more complicated versions of our original early injury environments. Anybody and everybody I know who will share a bit of their lives with me consistently reveal that we all have this “curse” on some level. Psychology gives it a clever tag – repetition compulsion. We either attract scenarios that reintroduce the same profound struggles of our past or we create them somehow by our perspectives.

I can point to times of totally innocent “minding my own damn business” where I was catapulted to the same choice, the same opportunity to either allow the same old crap to happen to me all over again or…not. Many times. At some point you begin to wonder what it is that draws this stuff to you. And it’s a good thing to be wondering. But one of the things truly valuable about these repetitive challenges is that we get the chance to redeem our history. We can make the stand we never made. We can make it good. Make it funny. Make it a great big flying flip in the face of some daunting historical trends. Or walk away this time when we made too many stands in the past. Whatever the “karmic debt,” we can sow new seeds.

But to be unaware and to say “ah that’s in the past!” and move on without knowing intimately what shaped our reactions, what shaped our paths is to be ill-equipped to face today’s challenges. At least, at the very least, that has been the case for me and for everyone I’ve encountered who is even just slightly interested in making their lives have deep personal meaning. 

None of this is to say that we are not tremendously benefitted by recognizing that today is a new day, that the past does not have to be repeated. It’s the both/and philosophy of awareness and empowerment that keeps people developing on levels that make them more present, dynamic and compassionate. Both aware of the past’s influences on the everyday world and empowered by the truth that we can create and shape our lives in spite of the past. And maybe even, with redemption, because of the past.

And there, in that both/and place, is peace. No matter what nasty case of the ‘flu flies in the face of the truth or loud outburst of total frustration, elation or hyper fixation visits our colorful and beautiful lives. (and all three of those ‘ations find me daily in my world of parenting!)

Oh…and you can go for a long drive when your kids are with their dad and pull off the side of the road and laugh at the llamas…

Llama Dance
Llama Dance









On with it…

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4 thoughts on “Part 3 – The Past AND Peace?

  1. I think you will approach your hurt and anger and whatever other complicated emotions you have when you are ready to do so. Not before. And I also think that’s perfectly OK. I believe life has a way of flowing through the troubles, as long as we make conscious efforts to direct them toward positive things, and actually face up to our inner lives when we are strong enough. If we are not thinking about our path, perhaps it is then that we go into autopilot and end up where we don’t want to be. That’s been my experience anyway.

    My family situation has taught me a whole lot about life, I think. I’ve watched my mom and dad and how they reacted to their lives. I’ve studied them, basically. I don’t know if it’s made me any wiser or not, but I feel like it has helped me tremendously in at least understanding the human condition, or feeling empathy for their pain (at least a little).

    I can say this, though: my life is truly nothing like what my mom and dad lived. There is no physical abuse, there is no chronic cheating (as far as I know because nobody can be 100% certain), there is no substance abuse, and there isn’t screaming every day and night. So I must have done something right. I vowed to myself a very long time ago that if I didn’t find someone I felt was stable, then I would remain single. I worked on my inner self for many years (and continue to do so) before I felt I was emotionally mature enough to be in a committed relationship.

    I admit that my husband and I have a somewhat aloof relationship, when compared to some of my friends’ lives. And my mom and dad were always very aloof toward us. So that’s a repeat of history. BUT… it’s a small price to pay for the stability in my life, and I pay it willingly.

    I think life is a path, not a destination, so whatever is happening in your life right now, your boat will move downriver sooner or later and your life will be in a better place.

    1. Life is a path…you said it perfectly. It’s funny. I’ve faced the complicated emotions, understand the layers of what influenced me in my marriage and how different I am now. The wave of grief I’ve experienced this past week feels like a final closing release. And it’s good, however difficult.

      I hear you on the past family situation teaching you about life and studying the family of origin. I’ve done the same ‘though my situation is ending in divorce (it’s a positive in spite of grief!). I can’t say that I worked on me before the marriage on levels that respected my truest needs. The toxic impact of my religion and family influence at the time kept me from seeing the choices I had. In any case, it’s all good in the long run especially when you are the type to care about not repeating the worst of your history. We do take and make the repeats of the past that are sometimes simply unavoidable (eg. the aloofness). Our paths shape us and we’re drawn to what formed us, just hopefully a modified more healthy version.

      I like the image of the boat on the river…flowing along the next bend. Made more sweet by the presence of such wonderful intelligence and strength in friends.

  2. Very interesting analogy Ruth

    The past is tricky. It can be looked at in many ways. It can be quicksand that holds you in place and keeps you from being able to go forward or it can be a spring board that catapults you to the next level.

    I like to look at the past as an education and view my parents as my ground 0.

    As I venture out into the world and receive my education, I always start from ground 0. I have taken steps on differing roads and ended up back at ground 0 on several occaisions. Each time feeling defeated and exhausted.

    Once I return to my ground 0, I can better accept the fact that I failed on a particular adventure and once again develope my plan for the next adventure. I do find it difficult to plan my next adventure while experiencing the failings of my current adventure.

    There is nothing wrong with retreating so long as you are not quiting. We don’t fail until we quit living and life is one adventure after another.

    If I look at it in those terms it is easier to get out of the quicksand holding me in place.

    It is ok to mourn your loss…you are entitled to feel your pain. Once you are ready, your next adventure will be there waiting.

    1. I like how your past provides you a foundation. Or spring board. I can say the same here. But the tricky thing with some pasts is that they are more than spring board and not quite quicksand, depending on the life lived and the experiences absorbed. There are events and exchanges that form ideas of what one is capable of, what one “deserves” and should expect. Toxic influences from that original springboard/family of origin (whether intentional or accidental) influences the shaping of the mind’s capacity to discern quicksand from spring board, to discern even one’s own intelligence and abilities. Ideas about what is trustworthy vs. what is suspect gets garbled. Those ideas spring along with the person onto the next level and determine how high or far s/he’ll aim. In relationships. In career. In artistic expression, etc. People get stuck, never realizing their dreams, never believing they can truly impact their lives for the better because of the influences of the past. It’s awareness of these threads of influence springing up from the mire of the past that helps a person see reality for the promise that it truly can be.
      I appreciate your reminder about grief. I’m gearing up for the next adventure as I rest here during this transitional stage. It’s all good and you’re right, thankfully we can learn from the past. It’s just been a shocker to see how one can know this is coming, work on it for over (gulp) 5 years and still find grief at the final stage. But that’s a-okay.

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