“Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.”
That advice is included in a list of 45 life lessons that arrived in my email recently. It’s purportedly written by a woman in her nineties. Old people are supposed to be wise so I read them. It turns out that she, like the rest of us, makes sense some of the time and the rest of the time she muddles through. I decided to hold on to her lis,t pick an item, and comment on her advice from my point of view. You’re invited to chime in as well.
Most of the time I think I am at peace with my past. When asked what I’d do differently given the chance I usually answer,”Not a thing.” That’s not to negate the bad parts of my life, and there have been plenty. However, if I hadn’t done what I did I wouldn’t be who I am today. And some of the people I love most wouldn’t be here at all.
Dating a boy in college when I was 14 led to a pregnancy and marriage at 16. We ended up divorced, of course, but not before three more kids were born and sixteen years had passed. Did all that stress lead to his alcoholism and the crushing self-doubt that led me to believe him when he said I was stupid and no good? Maybe. Or maybe he inherited that trait and my problem had more to do with the fact that I hadn’t grown up enough to know who I was.
The thing is, I can’t wish it never happened without wishing my kids away. I can’t wish away the lessons I learned with them and for them as I struggled to be a better Mom. I can’t wish away the job I took as a single mom where I met the wonderful man who shares my life now.
Other things are not as easy to come to terms with. The sting of the belt when wielded as punishment for a childhood mistake. The uncle who molested me. My sister’s murder. It all sounds so awful when written down and yet I continue knowing some will pass judgement on me once they know these things.
So question remains. Have I made peace with my past? There are moments when a painful part comes rushing back so vividly it takes my breath away (like now) but most of the time I’m so busy living I don’t think about it. So my answer is, “It depends on the day.”
What about you? Are you at peace with your past? Please share your thoughts on this. I’m very interested in hearing what others think. As for me, I have some fantastic material for a book that will be anything but peaceful.
- Peace (newjessica.wordpress.com)
- Symptoms of inner peace. (kleinesterndiaries.wordpress.com)
- Make Peace with Yourself: How We Let Go of Regret (psychologytoday.com)