I have discovered in myself an innate ability to relive the past, to rehearse it, revisit it, and consequently to be re-wounded by it. The past is an easy place to go. I know exactly what’s going to happen there, because it’s already happened. There are no surprises, which may explain why I visit it so often. Surprises have tended to scare me, due to my astounding ability to project negative outcomes.
It’s come to my attention, as of late, that we have three choices about life and where we live it. We can, live in the past, knowing all outcomes. We can live in the future, fearing all outcomes. Or, we can live in the present, experiencing moment by moment the perfect freedom of ‘right now’.
In therapy there is the term PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. More often than not, that’s what is being treated when a person becomes troubled by panic attacks, unreasonable fears, lost, stuck, perpetually hurt, easily triggered, etc…. (Forgive my rudimentary terms. I’m not a therapist.) None the less, PTSD, fits into the idea that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”
You know the crazed dad at the baseball field, screaming at the ref for a bad call against his 10-year-old son. Yeah, he’s not really that enraged by the game of baseball or the ref. That anger is coming from something much much deeper, from somewhere long long ago. Thus, ‘if it’s hysterical, then it’s historical.’ Maybe this dad was screamed at as a child, by his father. Maybe he was terrified to disappoint. Maybe he was forced into being better, stronger, faster, quicker, than he actually was. All of that pent up fear and hurt, come hurling out of him, when his own kid is the brunt of a bad call or a missed play. That dad is lost in the stress of a past trauma.
The question becomes how do we move past the past? How do we get out of PTSD and into PTG (post traumatic growth)? To truly grow beyond what was, what happened to us, and what we are afraid of, we must become willing to experience the vulnerability of the unknown. Consciously, we must stop ourselves, when we find our minds wandering into projections and fear based realities. We must spend at least a moment, a single conscious moment, in prayer, knowing that a spiritual experience is necessary for our healing. Even if we have no idea how to pray or what to pray for, the simple gratitude for our breath will be sufficient.
Our ability to grow beyond our traumas, depends heavily upon our willingness to release “the story” of who we think we are. You are not what happened to you! Those were things you experienced. Real as they were, they don’t have to define you. They don’t have to define me either, although I let them, more than I wish I did.
However, admission is the first step. Knowing, bringing to my consciousness the parts of me that are stuck in a ‘past rehearsal’, allows me to move beyond them. Prayerfully, honestly, with sincere vulnerability , I can leave what was and say, “ok God, what now?” —-Tyler Hayes
— sending you love wherever you are in the world