It’s in the past so why does it matter?
I think about this question in my head a lot. I know that I am who I am because of the accumulation of the experiences, both good and bad, I endured throughout my life. However, those experiences are in the past and there is nothing I can do about them. I can’t changed the dysfunctional house that I grew up in, nor the choices I have made in my professional and personal life. All I can hope for is to learn from them and hope not to repeat the same mistakes. So why does the past really matter?
My wife and our counselor really think it would be a good idea if I were to go back to individual counseling. They think that I need to work through my childhood with a professional. I left counseling because I had no idea what we there to accomplish and really neither did the counselor. So why go back? I know I had a really screwed up childhood. I can remember going through childhood and making mental notes about how I would do things differently if I had kids. When I got married and my wife got pregnant, my wife’s parents were very anxious about how I would be as a father. I had been a great husband but my mother-in-law, being a counselor, knew that you often parent close to the way you were raised. I know if my daughter married someone with my past, I would have the same reservations. However, I am nothing like anyone else in my family. In fact, for the most part I am polar opposites.
I know I took those things that I made mental notes about and I followed through. I have been a patient, loving and protective father to my kids. I pleasantly surprised my in-laws even though I never knew about their reservations until many years after the birth of my first child.
If I have this ability to take my past make it into a positive, why do I need to go back through it? They think I need to try and make links to the things I am going through now to my childhood. I don’t know that I need a counselor to make those links. I know that I have issues with my self-esteem, counter to the facade I put on, I struggle accepting love or to be honest I don’t really feel deserving of it. I am extremely guarded and hide my true feeling (if I really have any) and desires from people, and I will do most anything to avoid conflict with those I love. I would rather change myself than to fight with those close to me. I know those issues have caused me problems in my life now, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that those probably came from the loving environment (can you feel the sarcasm) I grew up in.
My parents really could have cared less about me unless it involved some sort of discipline. My relationships growing up with my numerous siblings were tumultuous at best. Most of the time any disagreement resulted in some sort of physical altercation. I remember from a really early age thinking that I could not punch my sibling to defend myself because I believed if I hit them in the nose they would die. Great thing for a 7 year old to think. So because was treated like shit and used and a punching bag, I know this did not help my self-esteem or my belief that I deserved being loved. I always knew what would happen if I stood up to them but I always did anyways. So in a way I could say I brought it on myself, but then again I would be very different if I had not learned early on to stand up for myself. If I had something I loved or cherished then it would mysteriously vanish or be destroyed with the pieces left for me to find. So I learned to hide my feelings about things and people. If I felt strongly about something then it was an easy button for them to push to start some sort of altercation. So I just stopped showing any emotion but anger because I could channel that one to protect me.
Maybe now people might understand a little as to why I don’t believe in forgiveness. Instead of forgiving I just remove people from my life. I have done this with my family despite repeated attempts on their part to “reconnect” and my wife suggesting that it might not be a bad idea to reach out to one of my siblings. I have no interest in either of those ideas. All it would do would bring more unrest and drama into our lives. And knowing that they would not bring anything I want to the table then why risk it. All the value is on their end and all the risk on mine.
I understand that all of this led me to be who I am. But if anything, I became resilient and determined not to be them. Not to be anything like them. Not to treat people like they treated me and I really think I have done a good job of this. Well a good job until I cheated on my wife. Now I have a hard time seeing myself as someone much different than them. I wonder if maybe they knew something early on that I would be this horrible person and so they treated me as such. I still don’t think that even if they did it would excuse their behavior. But none of this won’t change the past. It won’t change my childhood or my marriage and the destruction I have caused there.
Why does our past even matter? I am who I am today because of it, but it does not have to mean that I will be the same as my past. Just because I recognize the links between my current issues and how my past formed those issues does not mean that it will change anything. So why bother digging through it and reliving all the abuse and torment? Why bring back up the feelings on utter loneliness while being surrounded by lots of people? Why rake through my lack of concrete relationships, lack of close friends, the ability to float from clique to clique while not being accepted but also not shunned? Why? When there is nothing we can do to change it?