Pasts. They’re something we ALL have in common. Every single person has been somewhere before they settled into where they are now; a different city, an old bedroom, across the country. And at my age, everybody who’s anybody has loved and depended on and cherished somebody before they found you. We all have these stories and scars and journeys and horrors and lessons that we have created from moments we never thought would end. But they do end. When and how, though, (I’ve learned) is completely up to us.
The past, in a flash, is gone forever. And once it’s gone, all that remains are the memories of how things once were. And for the really great moments, this completely sucks! When you want to relive a moment endlessly until you die, you probably curse the continuing motion called time. But when you’ve been hurt, or wronged, or completely defeated there is something hopeful to cling to. Our memories, they don’t last forever. Your past can only live as long as you let it. Your past can only travel with you as far as you carry it. Once you let it go, whether you’ve made peace or given up all hope of ever understanding, it’s gone. This is the beautiful thing about the past, it is forever behind you. But odd as it may seem, that’s also the sad thing about it. The thing many people forget. The thing about it that we all think we can change, but we can’t: it is gone.
No matter how hard you try, or how many wishes you make, you can’t bring back what once was. The more I grow, the more I’m learning to see the beauty in this concept. The strength in leaving things behind. But at the same time I’ve learned that you can’t take the high road and let yourself completely forget the past happened either, no matter how much you think that might help you. Ignorance is not bliss, my friends.
Moving on is a very therapeutic concept. Moving on, trudging ahead, creating new… these things all require a forward motion. Remember this saying: You can’t build a different house if you bring with you all of the bricks from your past. You can’t. But if you completely ignore the pieces of your past, you won’t remember which ones you need to avoid next time. There is a very fine line between carrying your past around everywhere you go and revisiting your past when you need to. Once you’ve mastered that, you’re free. Once you can look back and not hurt, not long for what may have been perfect at a different time; once you can stop talking to all of the people who solely tie you to the memories, stop thinking the old times were exactly like your memories make them out to be, that’s when you deserve a round of applause. And I think that it is finally my turn.
In a recent –and severe– lapse of judgment I thought I could recreate a friendship, or at least a cordial relationship, with some people (mostly men) I had previously –and consciously- left in my past. I thought I would just resurrect the old. Duh, stupid! I think I did this because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. I wanted to show them, and myself, and everyone, that even though I was sure I never would, I got over what they had put me thru. But just because I survived doesn’t mean they should get to feel better. Me feeling better doesn’t mean you weren’t wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re not still a fucking asshole. It doesn’t mean that everything you did to me and with me and for me wasn’t completely and irrefutably fucked up. You can’t leave the game behind if you carry all of the players with you.
And on the other side of the coin, you cannot convince yourself others feel the way they’ve been forever illustrated in a moment of their past. A photograph. What? Listen. As my lapse in judgment continued, I somehow stumbled upon photos of my boyfriend with his old girlfriend. Happy pictures. Pictures that showed him, what was seemingly, having fun. And it hurt. It hurts to see the ones we love loving somebody else. But thinking he was completely miserable before we met hurts too, because it means I’m stupid. And naive. Which I have worked very hard not to be.
Within both of these scenarios, I let my past dictate my future. I let what once was convince me of what should be now. Talking these horrors out with my dear friend really sparked this entire blurb about the past. She helped me understand that cheetahs don’t change their spots. That although all relationships are beautiful, no relationship will ever be, or ever was, the same as the relationship I share with my boyfriend right now. That just because comparison is an option doesn’t mean it should be an exercise. She showed me that my future is brighter than any shimmer of my past. She showed me the door to this idea that beauty is in the now. That the gems that really matter, the gems like her, will never be found behind me.
The past may have been unfair. It may have been devastating, shaky and hard. Or maybe it was a beautiful, enjoyable, perfect place. It may be (and most likely is) responsible for creating the person I have become. But regardless of the pasts’ accomplishments, it is still no place to live. It is no place to recreate. Something to be grateful for, undoubtedly, but not something to crave. Leave it be. Just because something might be easier to pick up than it once was doesn’t always mean that we should. Grandpa said it best, “Just because a piece of shit dries up and stops smelling doesn’t mean it is no longer a piece of shit.”
I hope that together we can all find and hold onto the courage to believe that what lies ahead is far better than anything we’ve left behind.