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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are You Being Held Hostage By Your Past?

 
Your life has not worked out in the way in which you thought it would. Your dream job never materialized, you have not had much luck in relationships, and you never seem to have any money. This was not supposed to be your life. You were supposed to have the rockin' career, awesome marriage with a couple of kids, great finances, and the dream house on the corner.

Yet, none of that seemed to come your way. You cast about looking for a reason why your life did work out as planned. Then, you remember all of the times in which your parents were verbally abusive towards you. You recall how they constantly scoffed at your dreams and plans. Then, you also recall how you spent your high school years constantly being bullied classmates and ignored by teachers.

After high school, you moved to different states in search of a fresh start. You wanted to go someplace in which no one from the past could interfere with your current happiness. Alas, the place never seemed to exist for you. Probably, because you kept dragging your baggage from the past  from place to place.

You sandbagged any hope for a fresh start by recreating psychodramas from your past with a new cast of characters. You actively seek out folks to portray the cold and calculating mother, the absentee father, scheming significant other, and well-meaning but, narcissistic best friend.

You stay tied to this painful past, because the idea of starting afresh scares the hell out of you. A fresh start would require that you take both responsibility and accountability for your life. This is a radical notion for you because you have always blamed the less than stellar moments of your life on someone else.


The past is holding you hostage and it refuses to release you until the ransom is paid. The ransom will consist of forgiving yourself (and perhaps others) for past transgressions and moving on with your life.


I remember being held hostage by my past. It was not fun and I wasted A LOT of time being angry at myself and others for things that no one could change. Some of my anger was justified, but at the same time I needed to let it go.

At age 30,  I made the conscious decision to hop on the road of forgiveness and blaze a new trail in my life.

I recall that after a particularly angry rant, my then roommate turned to me and said something to the effect of:

"That's too bad that you grew up feeling neglected and picked on by others for being different. I am glad that it didn't stop you from pursuing a college education. It also sucks that some of your friends and ex-boyfriends betrayed you in the past. You can't change what happened to you because it is in the past. But, now you have the power to change the present and the future. Leave your painful childhood behind. Embrace the life that you have now, because at age 30 you have no excuse not to."

At the time, I did not want to hear this sage advice. I wanted to stay locked into the familiarity of anger and pain. The main storyline of my life consisted of being the "wronged one" that I feared my identity would be lost without it.

Three years ago, I returned  to  Santa Fe, NM which was the epicenter where I felt the most wronged in my life.  Within a year of living back in Santa Fe, I worked  out all of the demons from my previous time there. I spent my remaining 10 months before I relocated to New England, seeing the sites, meeting new people, and rockin' a new attitude of forgiveness.

The decision to pay my ransom to the past was not an easy one, but in the end it was worth it. It enabled me to strengthen bonds with people from my past, let go of the toxic folks, and make new friends.

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