Does Your Past Screw Up The Present?

“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.

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5 Responses to “Does Your Past Screw Up The Present?”

  1. Lisa Muzaffar Kusko Says:

    Interesting question. I think it’s hard to make peace with the past. Mistakes glare in the light of retrospection while good choices fade into the shadows. I haven’t found peace yet.

  2. schizophrenicwriter aka Bobbi Carducci Says:

    I love your comment, “Mistakes glare in the light of retrospection while good choices fade into the shadows.” Very true.

  3. clarbojahn Says:

    I’ve forgiven my past. I don’t think anything I did was a mistake. I’d do it all again and I learned from my past. There’s pain there and grievances that I am still learning how to forgive but no mistakes. I ended up marrying a man twice my age and having two wonderful sons. He left me a young widow but he could still be alive and I his nurse. So was that a mistake? No. Just hard.
    If there’s a mistake it’s in the college I chose. But that’s another story.

  4. schizophrenicwriter aka Bobbi Carducci Says:

    I noticed we both commented on choices we made and they are part of our past that made things hard. But there are things that happen in life that we didn’t choose that greatly affects us. Those are the the things that are often hard to find peace with.

  5. clarbojahn Says:

    Yes. like my parents. I am still having trouble making my peace with my mother. She was so jealous of me and needed me to be her mother all my life. My father had Aspergers so in that knowledge I can easily come to terms with the fact that not once was he interested in my life or me. Although before I knew of that diagnosis I had a hard time forgiving him for his “faults” in parenting. Not having a Dad is what sent me marrying a ‘father figure’. And when I was widowed my mother needed me to take care of her when I so could have used her help. And since we were immigrants there was no grandmother or aunt or extended family to ask for help. So in that aspect I have trouble finding peace there.

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