I’m a sentimental packrat. I hang on to every single little thing that has any connection to my past–used ice cream cups from outings with friends, old napkins from fifth grade, and plastic bags from field trips I took years ago. Why? Why am I so obsessed with things that have already happened, specifically painful experiences?
I have trouble living in the present. I either dwell in my painful past, or in my romanticized future. And when I do live in the present, it’s usually in the context of the future. To me, focusing on hurts from years ago is a distraction from the hurts I currently live with. It makes me feel like I’ve gone somewhere. If anything ever gets horrible, I can always remember that it wasn’t as bad as it was before. The problem with this is that focusing on the past so much brings back all the pain and impairs my ability to function normally. The memories engulf me and trigger emotions, so I might as well be living in that awful time. It’s not a very good strategy. Neither is living in a romanticized future, because when I’m forced back to reality in the face of a painful circumstance, it feels as though I’ve come down from a high, of sorts. I already experience far too much of that, with my recurring descents into states of deep depression.
I’m just going to leave the past be. I can’t afford more emotions to deal with. What happened happened. It has helped shape me into the person I am today, and for that, I am grateful. I need to let it be, let it scar over, stop poking at the wound. I am making a promise to myself to work on living in the present.