Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do You Feel Held Back by Something in Your Past?

Today, I heard this story from my friend J.

J was feeling stuck, blocked, stagnating - like she couldn't grow or move forward in her life.  She knew she had to connect with her mother somehow -- but her mother had been dead for several years.  While they had become close in the months before her death, J and her mother had had a stormy relationship.  That past relationship had J in its grip.  She decided to write.

Her journal entry took the form of a letter to her mother.  One of their issues had been  J's relationship with her father as an adult -- many years after her parents' marriage ended.  During J's childhood, her father had been violent and dangerous, but later in life he had changed, sought help, and become supportive and loving.

J's mother could never forgive her husband for his actions towards her and the children and she was angry that J had reconciled with him.  The more J developed a relationship with her father, the more she felt that she was betraying her mother.  Rather than accept her mother's justifiable feelings and separate them from her own, she needed her mother to approve of her relationship with her father.  

She wrote and wrote, travelling the roads of anger, fear, sadness, and frustration arriving, finally, at forgiveness.  Not of her mother or father, but of herself.  She needed to forgive herself for her anger at her mother.  This search and rescue operation of writing released her from regret.  It was time to move forward.

How powerful is that?

"You can let go of the past, but the past won't let go of you." - says Tom Cruise's character in the film, Magnolia.  But as I've discussed here before ("Are We Doomed?" August 1), the past will release us when we accept it and understand its message.


  1. Kristine Maitland wrote via LinkedIn:
    I would argue that we are all held back by things in our past - something our mothers said, things that we did not do in our academic or journeywomen's years. And some of us may not want to go forward, but like where we are. 11 hours ago

  2. I agree -- it's only if we do not like where we are, or we discover the road we are on is not related to our hoped-for destination, or people we really want to spend our lives with are not willing to accept where we are, then we might try to discover what is holding us back.