I agree when you tell me, “The past comes with sharp hooks.”
If we allow it, the hooks can sink deep in our flesh and pull us backwards. If we’re not careful, the claws from our yesterday can keep us from enjoying today; and moving forward, if we’re not careful the hooks, which hold us back will annihilate the ability of a better tomorrow.
I admit to the hooks of my past. I admit to the old routines and methods, which at the time, made sense to me. I admit to the burden of harsh memories and hurt feelings. And going further, I admit to my participation in this unhealthy cycle. I admit to my wrongs exactly as they were. And I acknowledge my wrongs to dull the sharp hooks of my yesterday; to keep them from sinking in and to keep them from ripping at the flesh of my sanity.
Rather than allow myself to feel a victim of yesterday’s poor choices; I have decided that I would rather be honest enough that no one could say anything truthful about me that I am not brave enough to say about myself.
I admit that some of these truths are uncomfortable. Branching from my lies to womanizing; branching from theft of actual goods to the thefts and crimes of the heart, with my heart’s remorse, I admit to what I have done. I admit to who I was and why i chose to become that way.
These are the hooks of my yesterday. These are the claws that try to hold me back. And some of the claws are sharp enough to do damage. Some of these claws are threatening enough to cause me to look over my shoulder as I wonder if yesterday will come back today and say “Hello.”
I agree when you tell me it’s hard to shed the old skin we used to wear. It’s hard to let go of the old ideas and the way we were. After all, with its goods and bad; at least we understood the rules of engagement. It’s hard to step away from the old routines.
In my case, there was a moment when I felt naked—or should I say with brutal honesty that I felt vulnerable. Of all my fears, I suppose my biggest fear is to be exposed or humiliated. I’m afraid to find myself as the fool or the idiot.
Without anything to hide behind and without my former methods or images to disguise the true me, or hide the truth of my feelings, how could I contend with the things I viewed as threats? And in the same light, without an image or a shield to hide behind; how do I compete with the ongoing impulse that causes my inaccurate need to always protect myself? How can one find piece when one sees everything as a threat?
And I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t let go. I had to argue. I had to keep the fight because, “What if I was wrong?” And if I was wrong, I had to fight harder to intimidate my opponent and push them into submission.
From this point of view, there is no trust because no one is trustworthy; and if this were the case, no one could trust me as well. I was always striking first before being struck, always looking for the upper-hand, always frightened to be weak, and in my struggle to find my place in a circle of influence, isolating while desperately wanting to be a part; I was alone in crowds and painfully unreachable. Or so I thought.
Worst part of this cycle is the constant worry that somehow, this whole thing we call life is one big joke. This opens up to a bigger fear that says, “If this is a joke, what if I miss the punchline and everyone else laughs except for me?” Or more frightening, “If this is all one big joke, what if I’m the punch line and it turns out the joke is on me?”
What else could we do but dress up to defend ourselves, right? We act as if and pretend that nothing bothers us. We say the words, “I don’t care,” as a mantra of self-preservation. We try to flatter ourselves with the ingredients of various lies to excuse our behavior and solve the deep-rooted truths that we’ve been trying to hide from for so long.
These are the sharp hooks I was telling you about. These are the hooks that tear at the flesh of our sanity and pull us backwards. These are the weights that keep us from moving forward—this is the worry and the continuous cycle of an internal battle known as depression. As far as I’m concerned, this was me.
This is the mental warfare triggering the uneasy, urgent need to be on guard, causing the over-analyzing strategies to ready ourselves for an expected enemy that neither cares, matters, or even exists.
These battles are the worst kind. And we move on like worn soldiers, too weary to fight, too tired to continue, and too confused to understand the benefits of surrender. We like the worn soldiers, march on to a war that no longer needs service.
It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to shed the uniform and turn around to become a “Civilian.” It’s hard to have this thing they call faith and to turn ourselves over to the care of a power greater than ourselves.
A long time ago, I swore to myself that I would never allow the hooks of my yesterday to dig into the flesh of my today.
There is an old Sanskrit written by Kalidasa:
“Look to this day
for it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the splendor of achievement
are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
and tomorrow is only a vision;
and today well-lived, makes
yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day. . . ”
A long time ago, I decided to walk away from the man I was in order to become the man I needed to be. I set out to find a new path; one that was not hinged upon my past or contingent upon an outside acceptance. I made a decision to change and came to the grateful understanding that I am fully and perfectly imperfect. Along the way, I have come to understand a bit more about this process we have down here on Project Earth. The process, or “Life,” as it’s called is not always an easy thing, which is why I agree with you when you say, “The past comes with hooks.”
I can only say this: if I could, I would strangle the throat of my yesterday. If I could, I would rewrite chapters of my story to alleviate the unsettled awkwardness of my inaccurate memories. If I could turn back somehow, I would do things differently. However, no matter how I try—yesterday is still what it was; rendering itself as either useless or as useful as the lessons I carry away from it.
Depression is certainly a war. I know mine is . . .
Those who live with depression are prisoners of that war. All the while, the prisoner is stuck in their invisible cage and locked behind imaginary bars that are stronger than steel. And all the while, the prisoner sits there, trapped, and never understanding their own ability to set themselves free.
There is a way out.
I can’t say it’s easy
But I can say it works
Note: someone at work asked me why I am the way I am. I just smiled and told him, “Because I don’t want to be the way I was.” Something tells me this guy didn’t get the picture . . .