Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dreaded "P" Word

Some of you might be thinking the dreaded "P" word is "perfection". Especially if you're a good little flybaby (um...I was going to say like me but it's actually "unlike" me lol - I'm not a *good* flybaby). Nope, not this time. This time the dreaded "P" word is PAST!

Hmmm.....well, like or not, we all have one (a past that is). I'm 33 (and a bit) years old so I have 33 (and a bit) years of a past. Actually, according to some schools of thought, I have more than 33 (and a bit) years of past - if you include my time in utero. I guess it doesn't matter how many years of it there are, the fact of the matter is that we all have a PAST.

Well, this has been quite an interesting week for me in more ways than one. I brought some of my past crashing into my present. That's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in one instance, it's been quite a fun thing - sharing memories and prompting one another's memories. I won't give too much away about that one just yet.... but stay tuned. ;-)

Some other parts of my past that have cropped up in my life have brought up some very painful memories. Things that I *thought* had been sufficiently dealt with and left behind. WRONG! They had simply been stuffed deep inside of me, deep enough that I could pretend they didn't exist. Not deep enough that they weren't still affecting my life in some way (albeit subconsciously).

Somewhere along the line of my childhood, I became rather good at burying my feelings deep inside of me. It was a surprise for me to learn that about myself. You see, I always thought I was a fairly open person. What I didn't realise was that that was a facade. A facade that even had me fooled for many years. And under that carefully placed facade was a miriad of pain buried so deeply that I thought I'd successfully made it go away. I was wrong. All I had succeeded in doing was putting off the inevitable for another day.

I've mentioned before the fact that I had a nervous breakdown in May 2006. Physically it was the result of struggling with post natal depression for a couple of years. I was emotionally bankrupt. What was unexpected about this was I no longer had the emotional strength to keep all that stuff buried deep inside of me. Who knew that all these years I have been wasting valuable emotional energy holding all of this rubbish deep down inside me and trying to pretend it didn't exist?

In actual fact, this whole year has been a journey of me attempting to deal with those buried emotions and hurts. And it's been sheer hard slog. Not a lot of fun at all. Most of the time I desperately wish I could wave a magic wand and it would simply disappear. That my past wouldn't even exist.

Not only does it NOT work like that, it's important that it DOESN'T work like that. We can't erase the past anymore than we can pretend it doesn't exist. Whether we like it or not, it has played a part in *who* we are today.

BUT, we do have a choice about how our past affects who we are. Hard times suck. Hurts are hurtful. Let's face it, human beings have a great capacity to hurt one another. There is only 1 person I know who ever walked this earth that will never let you down and that is Jesus Christ. He was perfect then and he's perfect now. Every other member of the human race faces a huge struggle with imperfection. And as a result of that imperfection we are going to hurt one another and let each other down from time to time.

I have 2 internal struggles with this being a fact. The first is that I have very high expectations on myself. I am a perfectionist. I would very much love to be perfect (oooh, there's the other "p" word). And I tend to be very hard on myself when I don't live up to my own expectations. I'm particularly hard on myself if I let someone else down or cause them hurt. I find forgiving myself extremely hard to do.

The second internal struggle is that I have very high expectations of others. I rely on them not to let me down or hurt me. And when that happens, I find it very difficult to deal with. BUT, I don't tend to blame it on that person. I blame it on myself - that there is some part of me lacking that has caused that person to hurt me. Neither of these options are great. The fact of the matter is that most times when this happens, it's just a part of the imperfections of life. People change, people move on, people make mistakes..... Like it or not, it happens.

I have discovered something about myself this week as I've been reflecting on things. I am the kind of person who doesn't let go very easily. When something or someone means a lot to me, they mean a lot to me for LIFE. I'm not sure that all personalities are the same with this. I think some people move on from their past much more easily than others. Or perhaps some people have a greater tendency to simply forget things than others. A good memory is not always a blessing.

You know what? I'm not really all that sure where I'm heading with this post. LOL. I guess I want to point out the fact that like it or not, we all have a past and we can run all we like, but the past runs with us. Because it is inside of us and it is a part of us. But even if parts of our past (big or small) are bad, it doesn't mean that the bad has to stay with us.

You know the saying "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger"? It's so true. I'm not saying I plan on putting myself out there to get deliberately hurt. But if we can make our way through hard times and hurts, we can use those experiences to grow in wisdom and understanding of our own humanity. I do want to point out that there is a difference between strength and bitterness. Strength brings with it an ability to see things from a new perspective. Bitterness will eat you up from the inside out and leave you with a hollow shell of a person.

I do think there is a balance that needs to be found. To some extent we need to move forward from our past. It isn't healthy to continue to live in a time that is now gone. It's also not healthy to deny the things that have happened in our past. If you feel like there are hurts in your past that need to be dealt with, I would encourage to find someone to walk this path with you. I have a wonderful counsellor who is helping me work through issues. I think without her I would be in danger of drowning in my own grief and pain some days.

Interestingly enough, I have heard the term depression to be described as being deeply repressed emotion. Since I have been diagnosed with having clinical depression, I have been amazed at the number of people out there who struggle with a similar condition. While I'm not for a second trying to play down the physical causes of depression, I can't help but wonder how many of those who struggle with it have a past that has been shoved so far down inside of them they can hardly acknowledge it existed.

I think I need to finish this post by pointing out the fact that I am in no way an expert when it comes to all things emotional and psychological. Our minds and emotions are very complex things. And each one of us is different. My hope in sharing some of my own journey is that it might encourage others out there who are struggling, to work on coming to terms with their own past and their own imperfections. Out of this acceptance I believe comes true love. Love of ourselves which in turn gives us freedom to love others more completely.

Sending you all ((((HUGS)))) just cos I feel like it. :-)



Kez said...

{{{HUGE HUGS}}} back atcha :)

Lisa said...

Hugs back!

We're off today! Mum and Dad are coming soon to pick up the dog (and the laptop... don't want it to get stolen; it's got all our photos on it).
Enjoy your holiday too.

Kelley said...

Jodi. Wow is all I can say (yeah how eloquent of me). My sons case manager has 'forced' some counseling on me, under the guise of 'talking about Boo's issues and trying to help him' but we both know she thinks I need some 'help' so to speak. Reading this has made me realise that yeah, I do.
Thanks babe, you are amazing.
Pop by my blog when you have a chance cause Why Mommy gave me some bling and I want to give it to you :)

Christine said...

((Hugs)) This was a very honest and touching post. Yes we all do have a past and sometimes it catches up with us or collides with us when we least expect it. And we all do go through it. It sounds like you are doing a great job though. Keep your head up!

lightening said...

aThanks Kez. :-)

Lisa - I'm sure you'll have an awesome time!!!

Kelley - good for you. :-) All of us need a little help from time to time.

Christine - thanks. :-)

emma.jean said...

Jodi, you have to stop making me think... my head hurts. LOL. But I can relate to some of what you've written.

lightening said...

Emma - when I can figure out a way to stop myself thinking I'll let you know. LOL. There are good and bad sides to being a "thinker" in personality.