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On the Past

I've had a lot of conversations recently surrounding the past and whether or not it's escapable. Do we truly learn from our mistakes? Or do we keep repeating them with different backdrops? I don't really have an answer. More so, I'm curious of how in control we are of moving beyond our pasts. Is what drives us subconscious? Or are we fully aware of the vicious cycle that commands us? And which makes it easier for us to escape?

I think it varies from person to person and situation to situation. Some bits of our past we move forward from. But there are other, larger instances that we simply can't erase. Getting lost in a grocery store at five-years-old may have been a small moment for one person, whereas it may have been a huge trauma for another person. Here's where it gets tricky. Will the person who has had trouble moving on from that trauma, ever really move on from it? Or will it loom over them every time they walk into a store and do not know their whereabouts? Or when they lose sight of a loved one will their palms always get sweaty? Will they hold onto their kids too tight in the cereal aisle? Or do they eventually overcome it after allowing themselves to see that one instance does not need to define them? And how will they come to see that?

I've been trying to practice "self-care" lately, which involves me trying to break cycles or paths that I told myself were toxic. Most often, these cycles are people or my relationships with them. When I broke up with my ex, I told myself that I needed to rid myself of toxicity, and that I would not allow myself to be in a similar unhealthy, toxic, insecure, horrible, good-god-really-why-did-I-allow-that, relationship again. And whenever I meet someone that has similar tendencies, I need to check in with myself. It's so easy to fall into similar patterns because we find comfort in knowing how things are going to end, or perhaps we hope that if we find a similar person to the one that wronged us, and they produce different results, we will rid ourselves of the negative feelings associated with that trauma and move on from it. I'm trying not to do that, though. I'm trying not to chase the same people who created a trauma--I'm trying not to chase my past. It seems like staring in the mirror and expecting to see something different each time.

And then we get into the subconscious drives that tie us to our past. Am I truly chasing people who remind me of my ex because of her treatment of me? Meaning, am I chasing dead-end relationships because I'm trying to find a similar person to change my mind? Or is there something deeper-rooted at work here? Something that may have happened to a five-year-old in a grocery store who doesn't realize why she's holding her kid's hand too tight in aisle 7. Am I chasing dead-end relationships because I come from divorce and I view that, however subconsciously, as a prophecy? Is typing that canceling out the subconsciousness of it?

The issue is, though, no matter if we are conscious or unconscious of what drives us, how do we change what drives us? How do we let go of the past to have a healthier present and future, and do we ever? We're all striving to be the best people we can be, and I believe we are all capable of reaching whatever we view "greatness" to be, but how can we if we refuse to move forward? I'm going to open it up to all of you: Do we ever escape our pasts? If not, why? And if so, how?

A friend of mine gave me this writing prompt the other day, and it seems relevant for this post. So I'll leave you with a little bit of creative writing as food for thought:

There’s this thing that keeps poking me on the back, but when I turn around, it’s gone. I can’t quite put my finger on it, you see. I’ve been running around in circles down this path chasing the thing that pokes me on the back. I can’t grasp it, but I can tell you it irritates me, the way it follows me and eats dinner with me, leaving me with a Bordeaux-like stain on my best white shirt. No matter how many times I rub the stain, it simply won't go away, but I get distracted, by this thing that pokes me on the back.

I’ve been chasing this thing that pokes me on the back for my whole life, you see. I’ve been chasing it down this dark path lined with looming oaks and buzzing flies who wave to me as I go by because they know me; they always have known me, on this path with these looming oaks. I wonder often if they have a thing poking them on their backs, however small, and do they buzz around and chase it and try to grasp it? And can they? And if they can, how, and will they tell me?

My bare feet are black like the night sky I run under, after the thing that pokes my back. I wonder often what it is to run forward, or to even walk, to feel what it is called normal in the regular hours of the day where a clock hangs on a wall and ticks however slow, but I lost track of time on this path, chasing the thing that pokes me on the back, and have you seen my mind, and will you tell her I still hold her dear? Or has she turned her back on me, as I chased down this path, after my past that pokes me on the back.