“But if I live in the past, there’s no future,” are song lyrics that definitely stick in my mind. From the song, “Leaving October,” by the country music group Sons of the Desert, these lyrics remind me of the fact that I spend way too much time stuck in my own head, and that it is not a good way to live.
My psychologist regularly tells me that no one needs to give me crap for things I do wrong, because I spend more than enough time time kicking my own ass on things that I just can’t let go.
Be it calls that I ran on the ambulance, former relationships, or any number of other “failures” I’ve had in my life, I have had a hard time moving forward because I can not seem to let go of the past. To this day, I still find myself thinking of times I messed up, or rehashing events in my life that are years, even decades, past.
The question I pose is this: What is it about mental illness that makes it so difficult to let go? What is in the past, is the past. No amount of second guessing myself, or “kicking my own ass” will change the events that took place.
What can we do with the past? We can learn from it. We can work at not making the same mistakes again. We can work through the memories, accept them, and leave them in the past. This sounds easier said than done. And it definitely is. It is work. It is numerous appointments with mental health professionals. It is large amounts of time on the road.
Acceptance is also something else. It is learning, it is growing, and it is continually improving. It is realizing that your past does not dictate your future. It can definitely steer it, but ultimately you are in control of your own life. So learn, accept, and live.
I know this is easy to say, and hard to do. I still struggle. I still falter. I still catch myself looking into the past. However, everyday that goes by, I am getting better at catching myself, and closing that door again. I know my mental illness is not cured. It never will be. That is not in my control. That being said. I can control my reactions. I can control my perspective. And I can learn from the past, and use it to guide me to my future.