When driving, you should check your rearview mirror once in a while just to be fully aware of your surroundings. After all, no one wants to be caught off-guard by a snarky tailgater while you’re trying to change lanes, or worse, by a titanoboa, which, according to scientists, could totally come back someday if global warming continues on its current course.
So what about looking in the rearview mirror of life? Some say it’s good to look to the past to avoid making the same mistakes over and over. Others say it’s nice to look back so that you can see how far you’ve come.
I call bulls*** on all of it.
For me (and others like me–I know you’re out there), that little *glance* I take into my mirror while driving tends to turn into a long…. cold…. endless…. stare when I’m looking into my past. I was blessed with a super-human memory, which certainly has its merits, but its downside is that I remember everything. I remember that time you rolled your eyes at me in 9th grade when you had to hear for the 30th time about how Danny talked to me for almost 30 minutes after school that one day. I remember that time I told you I had a bunch of siblings I’d never met and you obviously didn’t believe me but pretended you did. I remember that time you made a bet with all of our friends that I would ruin this one really important thing (and then I did). I still think I’m that annoying girl who can’t shut up about boys, who tells strange made-up stories for seemingly no reason, and who is bound to screw up important things.
I used to tell myself that my frequent journeys into the past were helpful. I used to quite convincingly make the case that I was learning from mistakes and becoming a better person. Turns out that was… yep, total bulls***.
At the risk of TMI: I’ve done the 4th step. I’ve taken inventory, and it’s ugly. I do not regret the work I have done to clean up my nuclear disaster of bad decisions, but ironically, it was while I was staring my mistakes in the face that I made the biggest ones of my life. It was like I looked into the rearview mirror and freaked out when I saw a copperhead, so I closed my eyes and ran right into the mouth of a titanoboa.
So what’s going on? Why the obsession with what’s done and gone and why did it fail for so long to help me with the issues at hand today?
I don’t necessarily know the answer, but I have some pretty good theories.
The main one is that I’m still hurt. I’m hurt because I remember every single little thing. Deep down inside, I’m concerned that you remember me only as that annoying girl who couldn’t shut up about boys. Or that annoying girl who would black out from drinking and then say some really scary things (and of course not remember the next day). Or that annoying girl who would tell the most bizarre lies just to seem a little more interesting. Or that annoying girl who was too darn boring to be worth being friends with anyway.
The truth is that you probably don’t remember me much at all. I’m the one who remembers.
But anyway, when you make decisions from a place of being hurt (or angry or resentful or sad or whatever), it’s extremely difficult to be logical or rational. By holding onto my pain, I’ve subconsciously been revengeful. I’ve avenged my own suffering on people who totally had nothing to do with it in the first place and most certainly didn’t deserve it. Instead of being able to tell someone in the moment, “hey, that hurt me,” I shoved it down inside and tried to figure out how to stop the bleeding. I’m not justifying my actions or anything, but I do at least think that’s why I did some of the things I did (as opposed to me just being a terrible person).
All of this is coming up because a big reunion just passed me by. I honestly couldn’t go anyway because it would have been a long trip and I had neither the funding nor the time to go. But would I have gone if I could have? Absolutely not. I know that all of my friends from that time period are still close (without me) and I don’t know how it happened. They all live all over the country, so it’s not the distance. We all had full time jobs and/or got married and/or had kids, so it’s not life’s distractions.
I either did something to upset them, or they just forgot me. And I’m not sure which is worse.
So I obsess about the past and wonder what went wrong. I replay every conversation that I can remember so that maybe I can uncover the moment where everything turned. I keep thinking that if I could just figure it out, I could reassure myself that I’m different now. Maybe part of me thinks I can convince them I’m different now. Is that even what I want?
These types of crazy-making thoughts are why Facebook is just bad for me. I know Facebook-Induced Death Spiral is not yet in the DSM, but it will be one of these days, trust me.
The other reason I’m being haunted by ghosts:
I’m going to be visiting my hometown in a few weeks for the first time in quite a few years. It’s interesting because the people I really want to see are not necessarily the people I would have thought I would want to see. I’m not really thinking about any of it too much because all of the people I got in touch with were genuinely happy to hear from me. There’s quite a bit of comfort in knowing that I left some bridges unburned.
I’m hoping that one day, I’ll find peace in all of it. I’m hoping that if someone hurts my feelings in the future, I’ll be able to just say to their face, “wow, that hurt my feelings, can we talk about this real quick?” I’m hoping that my glances into the review mirror really do become glances.
And I’m seriously hoping that giant-ass snake does not come back in my lifetime.