Telling someone that they are stuck in the past and living in the past is the same as telling them that they should be over it by now. There is no set timeline for being over something. There is no deadline for when you will be okay. You may never be 100% okay again. You may never be the same person again. Your past is a part of who you are. It is not something you run from. You can change and you can grow, but you cannot erase who you are and what has happened to you. And you should never be made to feel like you have to do so to get better.
Telling someone to get over something traumatic is just another way to invalidate their trauma. By saying this, you are basically telling them that their time is up to mourn. You are telling them that there is no excuse to not be better by now. You are telling them that they need to suck it up and smile for the comfort of the rest of the world. Telling someone to “breathe” or “chill” cannot erase trauma. You will not take a breath and then be full of sunshine. Your mind doesn’t work that way. This is why so many people walk around with smiles plastered on their faces while their minds and hearts are screaming and broken.
We think we can put everything on a schedule. I have “X” amount of days to get better, and then I will be better. I have “X” amount of days to process this traumatic event, and then I will move on. Processing your trauma is not the same as scheduling a doctor’s appointment. You might live for years thinking that you are healed and that you are over it, and then all of a sudden, your entire world comes crashing down around you in just a matter of minutes.
The things we experience in this life will change us. Sometimes, these changes will be for the best, and other times, these changes will deeply damage us. No one ever tells you to hurry up and move on from enjoying your good moments. No one tells you to stop reminiscing about the good times. No, they only tell you to stop living in the past when you bring up something that scares them. They only tell you to stop talking and to move on when they are faced with the uncomfortable reality that life is not always sunshine and happiness.
You are only allowed to remember the good parts of your past; you must erase the rest. That is the mentality being drilled into our brains day in and day out. Sure, you cannot make a home in your past because you are physically living in the present, but I think it is okay to remember the bad times just as often as you are allowed to remember the good. Telling someone to get over it never actually helps them get over it. It only makes them bury their pain even deeper.
The next time you are ready to tell someone to stop living in the past, remember that your own past was not all good times and happy memories. Remember who you were before you forced yourself to stop feeling. Remember your past for all that it was—not just the aspects you have been conditioned to believe are okay to remember.
You are more than just a person with happy memories to reminisce about. You are a complex creature composed of both beauty and pain who deserves to take the time they need to process the things they have been through. No matter how long that timeline is for you, you are always allowed the time you need to process, reflect, mourn, and heal. Always.
You should never be ashamed for remembering what you have been through—good or bad.