You can’t forget the past. You can’t let the past go. You don’t have a hold of it. It has a hold of you.
It happened to you. It affected your mind and your body- it disfigured you maybe physically but it altered you internally.
People always say to others who are dealing with mental health issues or PTSD – they tell them to get over it.
I am here to tell you your past – will never go away.
And those that say stuff like that will take themselves to church on Sunday and sit in a Pew and worship a being that walked the earth 2,000 years ago.
Then, they’ll drive down the city street and stop at a cafeteria in a country that was founded 280 years ago if it’s in America. Obeying laws wrapped up in a document the same age enforced by the government established at that time. 1066 if it’s in the U.K.
What I mean to say is while the past may be in the past – it’s power ripples into the future because we carry it there.
Ask someone who’s spouse cheated on them and they decide to stay together or if they split apart what that event will do or has done to them in the present.
Your past shapes your present in almost all ways and if you’re not careful about it – it will use you. Your past will be your present and will dictate to you your future.
What I am learning to do, or have started to learn to do over the past five years is instead of letting my past use me like it had for years and years, I started using my past.
I went inward and discovered that my story could be translated into words. I could put down on paper the events of my life and draw from it. From all of it, the good, and the bad, and the downright awful.
All my life I had been gathering up information that felt like tons and tons of weight I carried with me. All this weight was putting up barriers between me and the rest of the world because my life up to a certain moment felt bizarre. I felt like no one in the world could understand what I had gone through.
Yet my past looked into my future – and knew different.
So I started to write.
And like the gospels, I found I could return over and over again and discover something new. I could unload this weight and use this stuff to connect to people in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined while I was going through the pain of my past.
So much so that the past that I hated and tried to run away from, and felt powerless over, I became grateful for.
I’ve asserted responsibility for myself and the narrative.
That’s why I love being an author so much. When I receive a message or an email from a reader wanting to talk about the themes of my books or telling me that they connected to a character so strongly, that they had to say something, or they send a message saying “I know you know what you’re talking about because I too, know this.” That weight disappears, and I know I no longer carry it alone.
All of you aren’t writers. Yet, at two o’clock in the morning when your body is worn out and your husband is on your last nerve or your kids are driving you up a wall and you’re laying in bed wondering about the mistakes you’ve made, or if your brain wants you to relieve the life you’ve lived – get up.
Grab a pen, grab a sheet of paper, and tell your past, “Okay, you wanna do this? Let’s do this.”
Write it down.
You know the narrative already. It rolls around in your head, you can quote it from memory. Yet something happens when you put it on paper. You find yourself making value judgments on that event and you’ll surprise yourself with what it is you have to say about it. You’ll find yourself thinking thoughts and coming to conclusions because there is something about seeing the narrative in front of you. It drags the past into the physical world, into the present, the here and now. You may laugh, you may cry, you may get mad, furious even.
Then use it.
Turn it into something. Whether that something is writing, painting, photography, dance, singing, playing an instrument, or volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, helping a friend, blogging, vlogging, find a medium by which you can connect yourself to another living soul and let them see the cracks in your armor. The vulnerability. The humanity – because that’s all art is. The humanities.
We may be superficially connected by perfection in each other but it’s the imperfection that we find staying power. It’s in the vulnerability of another where we find ourselves wanting to be protective. It’s in the hard times we discover The ability to endure. It’s in our perceived weaknesses where we find our strength.
The secret of happiness may not be in the future – I think the secret of happiness rests decidedly in our past and what we choose to do with it, even though how the past was shaped have been beyond our control. We can control it, now. Draw on the Source Code.