The Past: Life Lesson or Life Sentence?

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One of my depressive triggers is the past being thrown in my face or held over my head. It frustrates me, belittles me, defeats me, and makes me feel cornered. We all have things in our past we wish we wouldn’t have done. My manic episodes lead to partying too much, spending too much, drinking too much, and just behaving in way that is not who I want to be known as. Since the days of being wild and manic I have made a lot of changes in my life. Changes that were hard and took time. I walked away from a life that was easy for a harder one, but one worth living. When people bring up the old me, me before I submitted to therapy and medication, I have a hard time dealing with it. I can’t change the past no matter how much I wish I could. So, what is the purpose of bringing up the past? To punish me? Remind me of my misdeeds as if I don’t already know? Like I don’t think about them in the quiet moments and wish I had chosen door number 2 instead. Maybe, the people we hurt just want to be heard and they feel to even the grounding they need to remind you or knock you down a few pegs before you will hear them. Maybe, reminding you is their way of making you own up to your mistakes. I honestly don’t know the answer. What I do know is how it makes me feel when someone does that. I shutdown. They can talk until they are blue in the face but at that point they have shut me down in a way that is difficult to come back from.

What does a shutdown mean? What’s it look like? A shutdown is when the person goes internal to a safe place inside themselves. The accuser becomes Charlie Brown’s parents with an endless and imperceptible “wah wah wah”. No longer hearing the person talking the subject stops listening, puts up defenses, and waits out the storm in their mental refuge. That is why things don’t generally get resolved during blame sessions. One person is ranting and raving about the misdeeds while the other has checked out of the conversation. I usually have no memory of the conversation beyond the initial few minutes before I realize it is an assault of blame. Is this the best way to deal with things? No. It is a protection mechanism that I am trying to work through, but it is also a major trigger for me too. When I shutdown and go to my mental refuge I often just sit there and think about all the bad decisions I have made up to that point that led me to that particular conversation. If only I were better. If only I were good enough. If only I hadn’t done this or that. I am beginning to realize that no matter what mistakes I made in the past I can’t let them and the blame game with others detour me from my present path. I am getting better at handling things. I am compliant with meds and therapy. I am changing for the better. Maybe that is something that will take a long time to prove through consistent behavior. I am willing to deal with that. All I know is I am not going to throw away all this hard work because someone else can’t let go of my past. I am a better person for the faltered steps I have taken. I was shown, the hard way, the life I no longer want to lead and who I want to become instead.

Don’t lose hope. If you have someone bringing up your past and you feel defeated just remember that every step, mislaid or not, has lead you here. You are making positive changes. Don’t let anyone have the power to turn you away from that path. There is hope. Continue to work on yourself and improve. People will see in time.

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