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Falling in love…with the past?

“It’s okay to look back at the past.  Just don’t stare”Benjamin Dover

I had an interesting experience last night – a moment of falling in love…with my past. Weird, I know, something about that phrase annoys me, but there it is.  I got home after a quick work stint over on Chongming Island, doing some kid-wrangling cleverly disguised as relief/substitute English language teaching.  Needless to say, I got home, said a quick prayer of thanks for teaching teenagers instead of eight year olds (yes, truly) and settled in for a short nap.

In one of those strange moments where things pop into my head for no logical reason[1], I had a flash of some images from an old video that I came across while I was preparing for China.  In the video, my former husband (let’s call him Isaac; ‘cause that’s his name) had taken some short footage of our dog Angus climbing onto my lap for a hug.  Angus was a 50kg Rottweiler that couldn’t bear to be more than two-feet away from you at any time.

The conversation was sprinkled with ‘babe’ and ‘sweet’; laughs and frustration because Lola, our other dog, wouldn’t join in the party… and well, just sweetness and softness.  It was simply a 45-second video at home, probably about six or seven years old now.

Last night I thought about how unrecognisable my life would now be to that younger Michelle, and yet that doesn’t make it any better or worse to my life back then.  It was a special, lovely time, and yet it was actually a challenging time full of big life changes at what I now feel is the tender age of 24 (new marriage, house move and career change)!

So I thought: ‘what if I just fell in love with my past and left it at that?’.  And this is not one of those romantic, nostalgic notions of ‘everything seemed better then’.  I have no desire to recreate that time in the here and now, or be back there.  And it’s been a long process of healing, clearing emotion and moving forward, I might add, with much (mis)adventure along the way!

Many people, more intelligent than me, contend that suffering, heartache and inability to heal comes from holding on to the past (and I agree). To just love the past for what it is/was doesn’t mean we have to hang on to it and drag it everywhere with us, use it for ‘show and tell’, or strive for an updated version.  Truly loving someone or something is also letting go, or at least holding lightly; anything other than that is possession, an illusion.  Love is and allows freedom, I think.  Freedom for each to be their own person and yet to fully witness and honour the other person (or perhaps animal, place or the ‘thing’ that is loved, it’s not about romantic love).

Angus and I, 2007

Angus and I, 2007

For that moment (and still now) I really felt – not just ‘thought’ – that I would not change a single thing about my life to this point.  That also means I’ll take the lonely and the painful alongside the lovely and the joyful.

[1] which for someone with an overactive brain like mine, happens a lot!

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sally Paulin #

    Dear Michelle, such wonderful reflections. What you have described is true for many past lives and moving forward. I found myself thinking who I am was the last ten or more years doing what I do, but a glimpse of the Foreign Office on the TV the other day reminded me that I have been so many other people in this life and thats what makes me who I am. Thanks for thinking so well.x

    October 28, 2013
    • Thank you Sally! I’m glad you found it personally useful and yes, we are much more than the sum of our experiences and what we have ‘done’. xx

      October 28, 2013
  2. Rhian #

    Dear Michelle,

    Thank-you for your honesty and perception. You have always been courageous, mindful and full of love, we are privileged to witness your inner workings.

    Your blog reinforces your real nature and gives me great hope and confidence in your own ability and all of our abilities to remain humble and true to ourselves.

    I wouldn’t call myself a spiritual person, but this post in particular made me feel very peaceful. It helped me connect with your path, made your path clear to me and reassured me that you are safe and in good hands – your own!

    It appears to me that what you experienced was acceptance – whole and raw. And the reason this gives me great faith in you and your journey?

    Acceptance is a very difficult and elusive virtue to master, it is widely known as the last “stage” of grief and in my opinion is one of the first key ingredients to happiness.

    You are “embracing life on it’s own terms… gather(ing) the lessons and step(ing) forward with new wisdom and awareness.”

    Once we start to recognise and be grateful for these moments of learning in our lives we really begin to live!

    In my eyes, that is exactly what you are doing Michelle – living fully in the present, enjoying where you are and what you have, knowing that you are enough and that you are free.

    Thank-you for sharing, sending you lots of joy and compassion,

    Love Rhian

    PS – I know exactly what you mean about eight year olds! I’m no teacher, and only have limited experience with children (I look after an eight year old and a fourteen year old) but I’ve read and heard of seven to eight being “the age of reason”. It can be a very tumultous time for children as they grapple with who they are, what the world is and how they fit into it. Hence, some very colourful behaviour can emerge! 😀

    PPS – Here’s something interesting I found while thinking about your post:

    PPPS – Loving the blog! 😀

    October 28, 2013
    • Rhian, thank you so much for those encouraging words! This post took me five minutes to write, then I spent about six hours yesterday deciding whether to upload! Very glad I did (and I’m reminded that what we see in others we also see in ourselves…) 🙂 I think acceptance and loving life is an ongoing process, the point is just keep going!! i struggle with the present sometimes (that’s the overactive brain!)…but keep going!

      Thanks for those links, I’ll definitely check them out. Perhaps we can skype again soon, would love to hear about your world. Will chat offline, thank you again, this gives me such a boost right now xxx

      October 28, 2013
  3. #

    Brilliant post. You have given me lost of food for thought. What a wise woman you are x

    October 28, 2013
  4. Karen Marsh #

    Thanks for sharing Michele, I particularly like the part about acceptance of the past for what is. In my own mind I am thinking about the freedom forgiveness brings – the gift to myself.
    Reading your post I am missing not having you around but so glad you are flourishing.
    Lots of love, Karen x

    October 29, 2013
    • Thank you Karen! What lovely words to read, I miss you too and think of you and the other amazing circle women often! xx

      October 30, 2013

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