I never really understood how people can “shutout” the past. Is this more of an expression, or do people somehow find a way to keep the past in the past? Can we close the doors and walk away? Leaving feelings, emotions, storylines, memories and people behind? This has certainly not been my experience, but I want to know if it exists. And if it does, how does one even begin to do it?
Sometimes the idea sounds so enticing. It is certainly not due to my lack of trying that I have never tried shutting the door on the past. My mind and body have adapted so many different ways of coping with the past. Memories that my brain has stored in an unlabeled drawer, hidden in another memory’s folder, have made it possible for me to push down those things that were too painful or traumatizing to deal with at that moment in time. This storage method, however, has also made it difficult for me to recall the good things too or even whole gaps of time. The pieces of the past get mixed together in order to conceal the darkness.
What I’m learning though is no matter how good of a magician my brain is my memory finds a way to make sure I don’t forget the past completely. It can be something as simple as a familiar scent of a passerby’s perfume that reminds me of a close relationship now lost. And the pain returns like a jolt of energy to the heart, very real and alive again. You would think the pain would be the most difficult part of that scenario, but it is actually the unexpectedness. Something I can’t prepare my heart for, not matter how high I build the walls that surround it or how lost that memory is in the rows of folders and files.
I have spent many hours trying to figure out how to avoid the unexpected. Or even how to make the surprise impact less painful. But I can’t, can I? It has been my experience that the past will find a way to the present if it isn’t attended to. Does this mean I don’t often pray for my past to find its way into a vault and get locked in there? Well, I think you can answer that for yourself. But I am learning to accept that the likelihood of that is slim to none. So my choices are waiting in fear and pain, or walk ahead in trepidation to see if I can start looking at the past when it is awakened. Until someone writes a book with detailed instructions on how to securely hold the past away and shut it out, I think I’m ready to be willing to start walking through the muck. Besides, I’ve never been one to wait patiently.