Even when things are going well, the Great Uncertainty of life feeds into our fear receptors and a fire soon starts blazing, doesn’t it?
This happens with me quite often. When I don’t have anything specific to worry about, I tend to wade back into the mess of the past and find some yarn that had unraveled and tangled up. I then feel my way through, determined to get to the end of it, with a bunch of meaningless questions that serve no purpose except to cause me pain, and perhaps to keep me entertained.
Why do we do this?
We all have “unresolved issues” that we carry from our past. But if we are honest about it, we see that this is just a way to keep our pain alive. We are attached to our problems and our pain. Who are we without them?
We feel vindicated when strong words like “traumatized” are used to describe what happened to us, what someone else did to us. How could they? And the general wisdom is that we have to confront and work through that trauma to lay it to rest.
Just a few weeks ago, I was mired in a smilar past trauma which keeps coming up over and over again, and brings with it a host of other emotions. I wanted to work through it by writing about it, attributing blame to those who deserved it, forgiving them for it, acknowledging my pain, and hopefully laying it to rest.
But then I realized that this is an exercise that will keep me stuck in anguish for a prolonged period of time. I have lived half my life already. Will I navigate the rest of my life, stooped over, carrying that huge burden on my back? I can simply drop that burden and move on, can I not? And so I did.
I am watching this show called YellowStone on Amazon Prime. There is a tormented character called Beth Dutton, brilliantly portrayed by Kelly Reilly. Beth was responsible for her mother’s death in a freak horse riding accident, and that became her story, that became who she was. Why? Because she could not drop that burden and move on.
But you ask, how can you simply drop a burden like that? Does it have no meaning to you? What sort of a monster are you if you’re able to do that?
One question we should ask ourselves is who are we doing anything for? Even the burdens we carry – who are they for? As harsh as it may sound, the reality is that other people have their own lives and problems and they don’t care about yours. And that’s a good thing. So the only person we carry our burdens for, is ourselves. Once we realize that, then the question simply becomes whether we want to continue doing this to ourselves or not.
Most of what we label trauma do not have clear endings or resolutions. So what do we do with that knowledge?
Practice radical acceptance. Take radical responsibility for yourself. There is great freedom in doing this.
But even as we choose that path, we may still get sucked back into our old habits and patterns and ways of experiencing and processing emotions. And that’s OK. Resetting will take time. The important thing is to give ourselves the compassion and permission to let go, without the fear of losing our identity if we let go.
Our identity is who we are right now. Not who we were, not what happened to us or what we did in the past. As long as our earnest endeavour is to live ethically in the present, isn’t that the identity that we should embrace and be at peace with?