The first thing to come to my mind when someone mentions the past is un-comfortableness; I shift within my own skin. I’m not entirely sure why either, there’s not actually many, if indeed any things I have done in my life that I truly regret. I try to live my life in what I believe is a moral way, I try to treat people as I would like to be treated, I try my best to not hurt people.
When I look into my past it’s mostly a blur, the majority of my childhood I can’t really remember and it’s probably better that way, there’s lots of painful memories that I don’t need to carry with me on a day to day basis.
However, what I have come into contact with, a lot in my life is people who ignore their past, who keep the door closed, that keep those doors locked up tight because they contain so many demons that to open the door would be to fall apart completely.
Since first experiencing depression I had to face certain demons from my past that affected my sense of self, things that I felt made me a bad person. These issues ran so far into my psyche, they felt like huge monstrosities that could never be defeated; but with time, and some help from a very astute counsellor who actually knew how I ticked and could just tell me off when I was thinking in (quite frankly) stupid ways; I managed to start to rewrite my programming!
Blame is a big part of why I had felt so powerless, for whatever reason I have never been much of a blamer, though I am a rabid navel gazer, and an absolute idiot when it comes to blaming myself, I wouldn’t really ever say “Person (a) hurt me, and that’s not right and it’s horrible that it happened”. I had somehow explained it all away by saying “It’s ok because it made me who I am now...” For someone to hurt you right at the core of your being is never ok. It may be explainable or forgivable but it’s never enough to just chalk it up to experience and say “Well, better it happened to me than somebody else!”
I had truly ignored my own self worth because I never thought I was worth enough to not apologise, to not be hurt, and used, and exploited, I even made myself feel guilt for things that were not my fault in order to keep the “peace” while selling my own soul like some sort of emotional punching bag prostitute. I sell myself short at this point, it’s not just something I did, I embraced it as a huge part of who I am, what I was “for”.
I’ve never known how to be anything else; I took this forward into my adult relationships, and went wrong in oh so many places because of it.
As I started to move forward I started to feel in much more control of my life and of myself, I finally felt that I had more of a handle on the emotions I felt and the anxiety that had plagued me for as long as I can remember, I no longer felt that I was at constant risk of my world falling down around me and felt safe.
I’ve had a lot of upheaval since this time, I’m back on the same medication I was when I first got depression, which I had worked so hard to come off, I felt like a bit of a failure. This is again because real life hit, and I didn’t feel in any way cushioned from the big horrible black world.
I felt at risk of losing everyone that had ever loved me, that maybe I was the worst person in the world, I felt as if everything I was being destroyed and that I couldn’t keep hold of myself at all, I felt lost in the darkness and didn’t know how to get out.
After this mental breakdown my body followed in an alarmingly (and thankfully) rare MS attack, I had to stay in bed, I had to face my demons, I could no longer run.
Now I realise that this was an incredibly formative period, that I was entirely broken and hadn’t any foundation, I had to look at who I was and what I want. This has been a very scary period in my life but now, with a few months behind me I can start to take stock of all the emotional shrapnel that was fired at me, I can start to remove it and put myself back together, piece by piece. Build myself into the sort of person I want to be.
Most important of all, I have started to be able to look at past relationships, be those, lover, friend, parent, etc. and say....
“You hurt me a lot and that’s in no way ok, it’s not easy, or reasonable, or preferable to anybody else being hurt, but I see the good things that my time with you gave me, I see who it made me into and I am proud, because that makes me who I am today! Not what has happened and what has been done to me, but the way I react to the the world around me, I now know I am worth more than how I have been treated in the past. I don't need to hurt those who hurt me in order to make it better!”
Sometimes the battles we fight with ourselves are the much greater battles, I don’t need to retaliate every time someone in my life tries to hurt me, because I am starting to know who I am. Regardless of what and who other people think of me, that person is worthwhile. That is why I am writing this, that is why I no longer need the false safety net of being sorry for everything that can ever, possibly be considered my fault because people might not like me, or love me anymore.
I can start to love myself, for my strength, and my tenacity, and the fact that I can be shaken to my core, at looking at the decisions I have made and live with them, the fact that I can dream without dreaming of monsters now I have stopped running is a demonstation of that to myself. I am an ok person; I can be my own safety net! I refuse to be a victim anymore.
My past suddenly no longer scares me anywhere near as much as it did, that’s what the future is for!
Ceri - Womble of Cambridge