Monday, July 11, 2011

#97: Learn from the Past and Move on!*

*this resolution is still in-progress.

How does one move on from the past? When so much of how I define myself is founded in my experiences, where do I possibly start in letting go of the negative pieces?

Oddly enough, this was the overwhelming question I faced after my diagnosis. Trying to pull together all my strength somehow made the open wounds I held onto shine through. I was (am) haunted by the ghosts of my past.

Why couldn't I focus on what - and who - was really important? How had my prior healing gone so wrong that I had to be diagnosed with cancer before addressing such deep wounds? I've thought about this a lot since my diagnosis, and a lot of possible solutions have come up.

First, I tried forgiveness - forgiving both myself for the wrong I committed, and others for the wrong they committed. Without meaning or intention, however, words are useless.

Second, I tried writing letters (without sending them). After admitting my own wrongdoing in a sentence or two, I wrote pages of all the reasons why I was still pissed off . I finished the letter feeling angrier and more consumed than when I started.

Finally, I considered reconciling with my ghosts. I have to admit, if this weren't an option, I'd likely have moved on long ago. The fact that a second chance is available eats me alive, no matter how unlikely it is.

Despite all this soul-searching, it's my remorse and unsettled feelings that have taught and motivated me to be more careful and deliberate in the future. There may not be a way for me to snap my fingers and stop regretting actions already committed, but there is a way I can learn from those actions.

The 'moving on' component of this resolution needs some work, but it's reassuring to know that there is one small advantage to dwelling on the past - I am still learning from it long after everyone has (seemingly) moved on.

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