Thought Catalog
May 10, 2017

Letting Go Of The Past That Haunts Us

Report This Article
What is the issue?
Timothy Paul Smith

I tend to gravitate towards nostalgia. I reminisce. I look back. I attempt to freeze snapshots of time to remember what happened, to recall the details. I even wrote a book about this.

Sometimes, it’s not about remembering the moments, the narratives of my chapters — sometimes, it’s just a mere throwback to being younger and innocent.

I’ve pondered why I’m such a nostalgic person. I figure that being emotional, sensitive and valuing tradition and memory play a prominent role. And who knows, maybe it also stems from my fear of dying; of life moving on until there’s no more memories left to recall.

And yet, just how there is an art to nostalgia, there is an art to letting go as well. There is a thin line between a bittersweet remembrance and essentially being stuck in the past. There is a difference between a longing for a simpler time and grabbing onto days gone by with a really tight grip.

Letting go may not be an easy process (I should know), but when we force ourselves to keep what does not serve us anymore, we start to feel stagnant and trapped. It falls on our shoulders like a heavy weight. Closure, which we often have to give to ourselves, is far out of reach.

And it’s understandable to hold on, too. It’s comfortable to stay attached to our pain. It’s familiar and reliable.

In a weird way, it’s our safety blanket. We become accustomed to shooting out fires. We are situated in our routine. We are used to dealing with our raw feelings, with our hurt.

The problem with clinging so hard to the past is that we forget to appreciate where we are now and where we may go.

And where we are now and where we may go is beautiful. More likely than not, it’s even more special than what was lost. It’s even more precious than what wasn’t right or what naturally disintegrated.

Of course we can preserve the memories and the important lessons the past sent forth. Of course we can. Simultaneously, though, we can be resilient. We can move forward.

In the spirit of letting go, and in the spirt of spring, I know what I wish to set free for good.

I want to let go of particular anxieties that followed me after adolescence. I want to hug my teenage self and tell her that it’s okay to release them. I want to tell her that I love her and that she did her best. I want to tell her that she went through a lot, but that she can lay all of that unnecessary armor down.

I want to let go of the residue. To extinguish the small embers; those last bits of remnants that hover over me.

And finally, I want to let go of my need to write about it all. I’d like to eliminate the fuel I give to each word; the extra life instilled within every sentence I form.

Letting go of the past can be challenging. Daunting. But I swear, once we do it, we will feel lighter.

We will feel lighter. TC mark

Read This