5 facts about letting go of the past

Last year, during my weekly session with my psychiatrist, I was assured that it is okay to let go of the past. What? Wait? Let go of the past?

But the past makes me who I am now. That might not be a great reference for my past – I’m battered and bruised emotionally and I’d wager, fairly heavily medicated. But I think the point was mostly that I need to recognize that the painful things that have happened to me, the trauma and hurt, the powerlessness that I have felt does not have to imprison and hurt me on a daily basis now.

I’ve grappled with the thought of letting go, and what that means for me. If I am being truthful with myself, I could admit that at times I am a willing captive to my past – I believe that I deserve to be treated poorly, to serve other people’s needs regardless of how that impacts me. Demanding more for myself and my future makes me feel guilty and selfish, and that is more uncomfortable than the ache in my chest from the nightmares and memories.

As I’ve spent some time bartering with myself to find a balance between self-preservation and selfishness, I have come to the following conclusions:

To let go does not mean that I stop caring, it means that I understand the difference between those who deserve my care and those who demand it.

To let go does not mean that I need to trust everyone, it means that it is okay to let safe people in and be vulnerable with them.

To let go does not mean that I am admitting I am powerless, it means that I recognize that the situation was outside of my control.

To let go does not mean that I am to blame, it means that I accept that I am unable to control others actions or change the past.

To let go does not mean that I do not regret the past, it means that I am willing to heal and live in the present.

All of the above tells me that it is okay to let go of the pain and that to let go of the past does not mean that it no longer a part of me, but it does mean that I deserve to move on with my life – it means that I get to anticipate a happier future where I am not victimised, but instead am strong enough to advocate for my own needs to be heard and met. It means that instead of being voiceless and frozen when faced with those who are only interested in making themselves happy, I can learn that I am worthy of the same consideration they are giving to themselves.

I only wish that it was as easy to truly believe these things in my heart, but making the logical connection is a start. For all my life, I have felt inadequate and hopeless – I have lived believing that it was my destiny to appease others at my own detriment, best to do what people want voluntarily before they demand or take it from me.

Letting go does not mean that I am accepting the horrible actions of others, it only means that I am admitting I am worthy of love and acceptance.

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