I get slightly irked when I hear people saying “move on,” “let it go,” or some variation of these phrases. What most people fail to realize is that our experiences become part of our memories and ultimately part of us. You cannot amputate your memories. They follow you throughout your lifetime.
This is why I take a different approach. I work towards acceptance of my past and lessening the intensity of the feelings surrounding the memories. That is not to say that once in a while that old feelings decide to creep up.
Going back to my days as a wee lad, my immediate family has had its host of issues. Between frequent arguments and substance use, it was not fun. In more recent years, I did a decent job of distancing myself from the drama. This does not mean I am immune from it however. One particular family member likes to involve me in her finances. To say the least, she is the primary reason I loathe the color green. I saw firsthand how greed destroys even the closest bonds. I volunteered to help this family member with her finances and act as a liaison of sorts between the bank account and her purse. My cell goes off. I answer it.
Without even asking me how I was doing, “Can you send me $1,500?” I was appalled. I just sent this woman nearly $5,000 of her money to her over the last four weeks. My blood boiled and my last nerve struck. I let out a raspy roar of ferocity directed at her. For nearly ten minutes straight, I cursed her out and called her out on her bullshit. She tried several of her old Jedi mind tricks like “playing the victim” and “the guilt trip.” I was well-versed in her ways by now. I finally had enough and hung up the phone.
My chest felt like it was about to implode from the pressure. I finally put my hand up to my throat. It felt as if someone had just punched me in the Adam’s Apple from screaming so loud and so much. Emotionally, I was a train wreck at this point. I was having flashbacks. It took me back ten years to when this same individual showed up randomly after stealing several thousand dollars from me. The sudden burst of rage, the screaming, and the trigger together simulated this memory.
There has also been a young lady that I am romantically involved with. Since being in my last serious relationship three years ago, this girl seems to have the most potential. We both could not sleep, and it was nearly three in the morning. We exchanged text messages back and forth. Somehow we got onto the topic of mental health and dating. I mentioned that I had my own bouts of severe anxiety and depression. She indirectly said that she had her own difficulties dating and being friends with people who had depression and bipolar disorder.
That was all it took. I curled up in my bed thinking. Part of why my last relationship ended was because I fell into a deep depression. My ex-girlfriend could not handle it. I stopped texting this girl out of fear that I would say something wrong. I slept maybe an hour that night.
Both incidents provided a strong reminder. I experienced extensive trauma, and it would be irrational to believe that I came out of it unscathed. Damage was done. Pain was endured. Harsh feelings lingered. I have put in a significant amount of work to remedy these memories between therapy, self-care, and coping skills. This does not rid me of the pain, but it merely sends it into remission. When it decides to rear its ugly head though, the difference now is I know what treatment I need to put back in its place.
-The Caring Counselor