The past is gone. The pain of the past is gone. Our experience of the past is gone. What is here now is the story we tell about the past. The vague feelings I am having right now are from my current thoughts about the past. The story I tell myself about my life can reflect either dulce o amargo – the bitter or the sweet.
My past led me by the nose. My past had me on a leash. I used to think that if my thoughts were exposed, my family would know that I was truly bad inside and leave me. My fears and desires were fueled by my thoughts that I was rotten to the core.
My thoughts told me that God wanted girls to be good and if you were holy, that was even better. Being good guaranteed love from God and Mother, maybe Father too. Good did not include any sexual activities, for sure. Especially with a member of the family. There were so many contradictions in how I interpreted the reality of my days.
I tried to be good, but couldn’t seem to pull it off for long. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to be free and that was being bad.
Later on, I wanted attention from boys, from men. I was running away from and running towards at the same time. I was running away from the fact that I was “having sex” with my uncle. I was running away from the poverty and devastation of my father leaving, haunted by the ghost of his presence. I was running away from admitting I felt horrible and unlovable.
I was running towards the fire – attention from men. I wasn’t thinking of my education, my future. What career might I have or what skill could I acquire. I was running towards the fire – drugs to feel something other than shame, embarrassment and unworthiness.
I was running from my own thoughts and I couldn’t ever outrun them.
How can I change my past? How do I reframe the story so that my past is a reflection of the strengths I have today? My strengths were built upon that very same past. How can I write my own legend? How can I change my thinking?
Despite abuse, I believed love was possible. I was searching for love inside and outside. I found men who taught me exactly how I did not want to feel. I found men who did love me with no drama. I found I was loveable and could be coupled in a healthy way, even if I could only handle it briefly. I pursued love with older men, seeking the love of a father, unfortunately sexualized, but I did pursue it despite embarrassment and confusion.
I was willing to be embarrassed to learn lessons. I was persistent. My compassion for others exists because having behaved badly, I know I was doing the best I could with what I knew. I can consider that everyone is doing the best they can. I learned that I can learn. I can change. In an interview with Krista Tippet, Paolo Coelho was commenting on his 34-year marriage. He was asked: “How could you stay with one person for that long?” His response: “She is not the same person she was 34 years ago and neither am I. We have changed, yet we love each other and work together in recreating a new relationship and structures demanded by our individual growth.” The past is a moving target, becoming the present at the speed of light. I can make it work to support and strengthen me.
My past has been a series of revolutions, eruptions, certificates of learning, dark stormy days and nights full of light and lots of love. My past is my badge of honor, a gift from creation. I am fearless, sensitive and sensible and ready to laugh at a moment’s notice. The past is my hero’s journey. I have changed and graduated into becoming more myself.
Most importantly, the past is gone. It cannot hurt me. The key is today. I am here. It is only how I think about my past and how I interpret it that currently makes me suffer or makes me proud. The interpretation of my past informs how I live today. It is my past and I can think of it how I want. It uniquely defines me. It is what makes me me. No more, no less.
I can work with you to rewrite your past. We can mine the treasures that are buried in your own experience of your past.