You know the saying. “Don’t look back.” “The past is past.”
Even Tony Robbins, life coach extraordinaire says, “Everybody’s got a past. The past does not equal the future unless you live there.”
In fact, if you type ‘Don’t dwell’ into Google it automatically fills in the rest of the sentence for you… ‘Don’t dwell on the past’.
But wait there’s more. The Bible states “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.” (Isaiah 43:18).
Yep, it seems that the verdict is unanimous. The past does not deserve your time or attention.
Well I beg to differ. In fact I think sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward.
My childhood was spent in Hobart, Tasmania. I don’t have many good memories apart from time spent with Chris, my childhood friend at her farm. I lived for those weekends when I stayed over at her house and rode horses all weekend. Staying with her family gave me the sense of what living with a ‘normal’ family was like. One without alcohol, screaming and walking on eggshells. In some ways, knowing the difference made it harder to live with, but those weekends with Chris got me through.
I left when I met my future husband (now ex husband) and moved to the mainland to start a new life full of possibility. But whilst we set about making new memories and a new family, my heart mourned the loss. I left everything behind. I lost contact with all my friends simply because I just could not deal with the pain.
Time moved on. I ceased contact with my family and felt better for it. I had a new family now and was determined they have the life I never had.
Cue twenty-five years later – Aged 51, a single mum, 2 teenage girls and a journalism degree later – when I realised my memories were stopping me from living. One of my favourite sayings is ‘life lived in fear is a life half lived’ and I was not walking the talk. At. All
Weird things started happening on social media. I got a friend request from my childhood sweetheart of six years. We got in contact and started talking. Then I found my friend Chris on Facebook and from there the avalanche started.
I began to realise that the universe was nudging me ever so gently to make the trip. It was time and far be it for me to ignore the universe because that never ends well!
In 2015 my oldest daughter and I made the visit and stayed for a week. We booked a tour around my old Catholic school only to find out the tour guide was one of my classmates! Neither of us could quite believe it!
That week opened my heart again and I was able to make new memories with my daughter in the town that once held nothing but bad memories. Since that trip I have found many other old school friends via Facebook (thanks Mark Z J) and I am no longer living in fear with the memories of what once was.
Now I choose to remember the possibilities and look forward to my next trip. Rather than close the book, I have turned a new page.
Now don’t get me wrong. This decision to go back wasn’t without bone chilling fear. And I knew my family no longer lived there, so I felt safe but still it was still difficult.
Making peace with the past now means the future is no longer a battle. A new page has been written.
“To build up a future, you have to know the past.” (Otto Frank 1967)
Tell me, do you have a similar story to share?