digging up the present

So a had an interesting comment on my last post.

On one hand, I think it might be counter-productive to relive the past and try to determine what made you put up with someone else’s b.s. for so long – because you’re counting on answers that may not be there (or easily discernible from general life experiences).   On the other hand, who can resist a good rehashing of the past?   You might find some answers too.  Good luck in your quest. I hope you find some answers (or at least, some peace)

So, generally a very caring comment from a supportive bloggy friend.

I got somewhat stuck on the counter-productivity/reliving the past bit and got very thinky about it for a while.  While trying to figure out how to articulate what bothered me about this, I landed on this William Faulkner quote buried somewhere in my memory:

“The past isn’t dead.  It isn’t even past.”

And surely Mr. Faulkner had something in mind other than my own angst and interpersonal issues (note ironic tone here).  But “rehashing the past” in this case feels quite like rehashing the present, if it’s possible to say that.  That is to say that the “issues” (to keep re-using this much overly-used term that I am much-guilty of over-using) that were born in the past didn’t stay there; we keep playing the same old games over and over and over and over and over again.  And that’s my present, that’s my now.

So if the pesky past would just stay there, I’d be very glad to let it.  But it doesn’t.  It is in me, it is me.  I keep replaying that record, hoping that the song will end differently this time, please let it.  And it doesn’t.  It never does, as much as I think, when that chord change happens there, and that guitar riff goes like that, then this time, maybe, maybe the song will be different…

It’s never different.  The only way to change it will be to go back and change the fucking record off the player.


So I was going to just answer a in a comment, but then it got too long, and so it became this whole thing.  I do want to say thank you, a, though, for inspiring me to be a little clearer (was I clearer?  not so sure with all the weird musical metaphors) about my “process.”   Process.  That’s another one of those over-used words, isn’t it?


7 responses to “digging up the present

  1. I’m not sure it’s even possible to deal with whatever happens in our life without thinking about our past.
    If I were to deal with my body issues, I would have to go back to an ex boyfriend who told me I was fat when I wasn’t. Every time i go jogging or think “damn I’m fat” my mind always goes back to that relationship.
    And I know that when another loved one dies in my life, I will go back to the three years I didn’t deal with my mom’s death.
    Our past is what makes us who we are, good and bad. There’s always a good way to think back and if you’re “ready” then you can go there with that in mind. I hope this makes sense. If not, I hope you can decipher it.
    P.S. Thank you for your comment on my post about my friend. You’re the best!

  2. I’m obviously projecting some of my family’s issues onto you (and thanks for responding and making me think more about it! 🙂 ). My sisters spend A LOT of time complaining about my mom. My mom is self-absorbed (not completely, but quite a bit) and spoiled. That’s just who she is. However, she and my sisters spend much time complaining about how the others don’t do the things that they expect them to do. My mom basically made us all very independent, and now she complains that no one calls her (because we’re supposed to call her every day or something – I don’t know. I’m not good at discussing the minutiae of life). My sisters complain that she is selfish and wants everything her own way, and go over the past hurts endlessly. I say this is the way she is. She also does a lot of nice things for all of us. Readjust your expectations and let the past go, because it’s not going to change things. You want her to change her behavior? Tell her (nicely) that it’s not acceptable to you. I’ve been telling my sisters this for…oh…10 or more years now. But I’m the youngest, and no one listens to me!

    So, that’s where my view of a life review comes from. Some things can’t be changed, so you just have to accept them and move on. And you can easily get stuck in a cycle of reviewing that doesn’t change anything.

    I hope I didn’t offend you. I am glad I made you think, anyway!

  3. I definitely see a’s point as I try to be focused on forward action as much as possible. That being said, I do think there is value in understanding how the past has informed our present, because that helps us be more aware of some of the judgment heuristics we may have formed over the years and how to avoid those that lead us down the same path time and time again.

    In some of the team-building sessions I’ve conducted at work (gag, I know…I generally hate them too), we do an exercise where we ask people to relate an aspect of their experience growing up that they think influences how they now conduct themselves in the workplace. Understandably, it can be a very uncomfortable exercise for some people, and I never require to someone to participate if it’s beyond their comfort level. In almost all the sessions I’ve facilitated though, the vast majority of people do participate, and it’s incredibly powerful both for the other co-workers to get insight into the person as well as for the individual. The biggest thing that I see come out of it in the team-building session is a new-found patience with oneself and others. Because you understand where the reaction to the situation might be stemming from, you can recognize it and then make a conscious choice on how to react.

    My continued support on this difficult and brave journey.

  4. What a thought provoking post. I agree with you (and the other commenters)—sometimes we MUST deal with our past in order to better understand ourselves and move forward.

    Wishing you all the best.


  5. Makes sense to me. A lot of it for me was maybe not about finding answers to why I stayed but how to make sure it didn’t happen again. And to some extent be reliving it in small bits in my mind I was able to forgive myself for allowing it to continue and to see why it was so unhealthy.

  6. Totally get from whence you come. I’ve been (am?) there. Separating the past from ourselves is nigh impossible at times.

  7. Our future is not a linear projection of the past, but our present grows from what our past was…there is no direct connect, but we are the same person running through the woods – sometimes chasing, sometimes being chased.

    I read your previous post, and was stuck on what to say. Not that I am unaware of the alphabets, but nothing made sense to me, there was nothing that I could say.

    I think your commenter ‘a’ has laced her life to your post.

    Someday this chakra will have to find a new path.

    We have to make the best of whatever we have….

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