This last week I got a comment from a reader that really pushed me button. I don’t know about the rest of you but I hate when someone tells me to “stop dwelling in the past and get on with my life”. I have heard this comment sooo many times from people that it makes me want to scream. Really, do they think that if I had a choice in the matter, the thing I would want to dwell on is fact that I was abused sexually repeatedly by my grandfather; that somewhere in my mind I am so masochistic that I would do that purposely to myself.
I’d like to say this to all the people who tell me to stop dwelling on the past –
- I have no choice in the matter, the past high-jacks me when I am least expecting it, through flashback, dreams, body memories and more. This is not something I can control and while I am getting better at identifying what may trigger these high-jacking, I can’t always avoid them.
- I’d like nothing better than to get on with my life; that’s why I’m in therapy and I write this blog. My hope is to someday have a half-way normal life.
- I have learned that until you learn from the past there is no going forward. It’s kind of like the Chutes & Ladders Game I use to play. You are going along with your life and you hit this ladder. Yes, it an upwards climb but it means getting where you want to go faster. (That’s a good thing, right?) But then you hit this chute (it could be anything that is a trigger, like the holidays are for me) and suddenly the ground has slipped out from under you and you are being pulled backwards into the past. With each chute or pull into the past, I learn something. And with each thing I learn the ladders (or the good part of my life) get longer and the chutes (or the past) either get shorter or I find a way to side-step them completely.
- The past was something that a scare child had to deal with the best way she knew how. That child did that mostly by disassociating and repressing, so that what happened to me was never processed correctly in my mind and put away where it belongs; that’s why it keeps coming back out. Now I’m an adult and I have more coping abilities and resources to help me process that past. As an adult, I can finally process what happened to me, try to understand it and then put it away where it needs to go.
- Most importantly, I ask that you don’t judge what you don’t understand. If you’ve never been abused, you have NO idea what I am going through. Even if you have been abuse, remember I’m not you – we didn’t experience the same things and even if we did, each person processes those experiences differently. NO ONE has the right to tell me when I need to move on, because NO ONE has experienced exactly what I have in exactly the same way as I have.
Ok, I’m done with that tangent now. I just feel that this is a subject that sooo needs to be express and explored, because even some good-hearted, well-meaning people have said these words to me – “stop dwelling in the past and get on with my life”. And they really have no idea how hurtful they can be.