Exploring the past

Click here for a brief introduction to Baggage & Backstories.

Journal3jpgMaisie has always been fascinated with the past. Until now, however, she’s been afraid to really examine hers. She had good times growing up, yet there were painful times too. Now that her Gran has passed away, she understands, perhaps too late, just how important the past can be to understanding who she is. Why didn’t she ever push Gran to answer her questions?

Maisie hasn’t reached her thirtieth birthday yet, but suddenly she realizes that she has no one anymore to ask questions about her family. Charlie, her brother, never wanted to visit the past. He told her the past is the past and dwelling on it isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Now, Maisie reflects on things that happened that no one could never talk about, but she needs to know. She has an almost crushing need to know. Why, she’s not sure. Growing up, Maisie never understood why Gran never wanted to talk about her life. She buried it and withdrew from her own family. The only explanation Maisie could find was that if Gran ignored the past, it would go away.

We can’t control the curve balls that life sometimes throws at us, but they are put there so we can learn.

Maisie is fully aware that many families have this problem. People frequently don’t like to talk about bad situations in their lives. They often prefer to bury it, rather than talk about it and deal with it. They’re afraid of the pain it might cause to themselves and to others. She knows now that ignoring it will not make it go away. It doesn’t. It festers and bleeds until the infection makes you have to amputate a part of yourself, leaving gaping holes in your very soul.

Sure, Maisie knows that we all have encountered situations beyond our control, and we all made mistakes for which we often hold on to guilt.

Typically, we can’t control what our parents or other authority figures did to us as children. Our parents did the best they could with the tools they had to work with. We could try to understand why they acted as they did. If we can do that, we might be be able to forgive—and then, an only then, can we safely put the past behind us.

Wisdom is gained only through living.

As for our own mistakes, we have to forgive ourselves too. We acted, usually, in the best way we knew how at the time. Only living and gaining experience can help us understand the consequences of our actions. Learning from our mistakes is part of growing up and growing our sense of self.

Journal your way to enlightenment.

A great way to examine the past is in a journal. Choose a time or situation in your life that has always bothered you or about which you have lingering questions. Write two or three pages thinking describing

  • Who was there?
  • What was going on?
  • Where were you when the incident occurred.
  • Why you think things happened as they did.
  • How you felt about the person or situation.
  • What do you think you learned from the person or situation?

You may not get instant, direct, or solid answers, but you just might become a little more enlightened about your own life story, and ultimately about yourself.

The seeds of wisdom that you begin to acquire sprout to healthy blooming plants.

***

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