For most of my junior year and part of my senior year of high school, insomnia ravaged my sleeping schedule. The majority of nights, I tossed and turned, praying to be able to fall asleep. That prayer could take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to be answered, depending on how far my anxious mind wandered. It was a painful part of my life, and it’s something I don’t like to think about.
Today, I’ve overcome the demons of my past, but the ghosts of these memories still linger; and they strike when I least expect them to.
After a stressful semester that left little time for relaxation, I came home for Christmas break this week. With no more finals, deadlines, or anything too pressing to worry about, my mind is now free to think about whatever it pleases (even if it doesn’t please me).
I didn’t invite the ghosts of my painful past to return, but for some reason last night, they relentlessly haunted me. Suddenly, I was reminded of all that I tried so hard to turn away from and forget: of the person I used to be. Of those two years in high school, of my summer in Seattle. I shuddered in fear.
You can fall into those same pitfalls and traps again, the ghosts whispered. And then I wondered: What if they’re right?
You Are NOT Your Past
Life is full of highs and lows, and we tend to remember more vividly the events that fall on the extremes of this spectrum. However, I’ll welcome a pleasant memory over a haunting, bad one any day.
Painful memories have a maniacal way of striking us when we least expect it, especially when we are vulnerable. Just like I experienced the other night, we can be haunted by our past — left to question our stability and sense of self.
But what if, when we are visited by these ghosts, we actually fought back? Instead of being afraid and allowing them to take us back to our most painful places, what if we laughed with confidence, knowing that the past has no grip on our future?
You are not your past.
The painful memories may be a part of you, and no, you can’t delete them, but you can make peace with them. You can look them in the eye and say, who I am today is not who I was. And who I was is gone. The past does not define you anymore.
We are being renewed and remade every single day. I can’t guarantee that the ghosts of our past will completely fade away, but I can say with certainty that their power, grip and influence over our minds can be weakened as we grow stronger.
Overcoming something is an honorable feat, but the true victory is won when we are able to make peace with the wreckage that remains after the storm.