The shadow of the past


I’ve never known that I had rights or could say no to abuse and bullying.  I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions and meet my needs – didn’t even know how to identify them.  Didn’t know how to use my brain.  Didn’t know I had creativity.  I was sure I wasn’t loveable.  My experience of  people was always traumatic because I was sure they despised me with good reason.  I survived by being a nonentity.   It was a nightmare, but it’s how I stayed alive, so there’s still sometimes something safe in it, something attractive.  I still have to wrestle with the darkest of my demons, the shadow of a past that beckons me become nobody again.

I understand now that I am entitled and I know how to establish boundaries and listen to my emotions, meet my needs.  But I’m not brilliant at it yet, and often the world still becomes a terrifying place as the shadow of my past hides the reality of my.  I can’t see the reality, I can only see the past, where there was no solution. Where I wasn’t loved or entitled or valued, where I was punished emotionally for being.  Where my self-esteem was like a piece of old, torn, moldy, smelly dishrag. Shameful.  Abhorrent.

6 years ago, bankruptcy made me supremely vulnerable.  Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  I thought it was the end of my life. But getting to rock bottom isn’t a bad thing, it’s a challenging thing.  Uncomfortable isn’t bad, it’s the door opening to a new way of doing things.  New is painful at first.  Stepping out of history, leaving the past behind.  It doesn’t feel safe, it feels wrong, that’s what is so hard.

But it led me to see the authority I gave to money and the myths I’d learned about myself and life, about my self-esteem. I got a chance to start fixing things from the inside, rebuilding my foundation for living.

Although bankruptcy is about money, the crisis was provoked by my belief system and my fear that life would end if I couldn’t get material things.  Beyond that it was about my fear of becoming vulnerable and having to ask for help – which was about fear of being punished beyond my threshold of emotional pain, and re-experiencing the emotional punishment I was subjected to as a child.

The shadow of my past.  It’s still powerful, but not more powerful than my spirit and the part of me that is emerging from my history.  Still a bit tentative, a bit shaky, but with a resolve that’s indestructible.  The days of my past overpowering me completely are over.

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15 thoughts on “The shadow of the past

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