You should take my advice on this one. If there’s anything in which I’m an expert with years of experience, it’s holding on to the past even if it kills me. And it almost has, literally, many times.
Maybe, in a way, it’s because the past is familiar…even if it’s painful. It seems less scary to hang on to something you know and understand, even if it’s the worst thing you can do for your well-being. Walking into the future is unknown and frightening.
And yes, when you go through times of loss, you need to let yourself grieve. You need a support system to pull you through the dark hours. If you have one, be very grateful. Some people must deal with their heartache all alone.
There’s a difference between allowing yourself time to grieve and heal, and clinging on to past events you cannot change. Memories and regrets are truly crippling if you let them consume you. I understand better than anyone that it can feel as if you have no control at all, as if you cannot drive the thought of a person or event from your mind no matter how hard you try. Irrational hope is just another coping method, another form of fear.
Let’s be clear – I’m speaking of hope as it relates to the past. It does no good to live back there, not for your mind, heart, or soul. All you can control is what you do moving forward. You certainly cannot control the actions of others. It’s your responsibility to yourself to keep yourself safe emotionally, rather than remaining an open wound that asks to be hurt over and over again.
This is so, so much easier said than done. I’m only able to write about it because I’ve failed at it numerous times. Often it feels like the only way of coping is to cling on to some hope that it could all change, that the past could rewrite itself in the future. It seems like, if you lose that feeling of hope, you’ll lose yourself entirely to the depression. I know this. I’ve been there.
I honestly don’t know the best way to make yourself let go of something or someone. I did a terrible job of it this last time, and six months after the fact I’m still paying for that. I do know that I need to figure it out. We all do.
You’re shouldering a burden that has to be discarded as soon as possible. The hurt and regret and painful memories you’re carrying around? They only harm you. No one else sees them, no one else is affected. They’re killing you from the inside out.
If there are physical items around that make you sad, get rid of them. If it hurts too much to do that, store them away somewhere. I promise you that someday you will find them and throw them away without a thought.
The harder task is to do the same with your mind – throw out what’s hurting you. It’s a brave thing to do, and when you finally accomplish that, you should congratulate yourself. If it was easy, humans wouldn’t have such a difficult time with loss.