A very peculiar thing occurred yesterday. I was discussing a topic with three colleagues at work. What we were discussing is really not applicable to this story but we disagreed on the topic. I could not see their point and they could not see mine.
What is applicable to the story is that the conversation and the tone from my colleagues awakened some very bad memories from things that have occurred in my life. Why exactly this occurred I am unsure. The conversation was not mean spirited or terse in nature. No voices were raised or thoughts expressed in anger though there was frustration on both sides. I get along with these individuals and would consider two of them friends. But, it was apparent there were some parallels that occurred that awakened something in me.
I believe that, to some extent, some of the things expressed were clearly taken the wrong way by myself and likely done so because it reminded me of very bad experiences I have had in my life where similar things occurred but obviously in a more extreme manner. Being a creature of emotion, my immediate reaction was to feel defensive, full of sorrow, and angry. Yes, I agree, quite the gambit of emotions. I guess what was occurring elicited those emotions I felt during those times in the past. I immediately removed myself from the situation. I knew the situation was dangerous because I didn’t want to make a mistake and say something I would regret to these individuals or deflect onto them how I was feeling about these past memories. It would be unfair. Clearly, I was not being attacked and these individuals would have no idea of my past experiences and what was occurring with me or how their words and the situation we all found ourselves in was affecting me. How could they? By doing any of these things, I would be clearly bowing to these memories and not rising above them. They would be controlling me.
Removing myself allowed me to pull back and think through to what I was actually feeling. Why did I feel this way? It surprised me. I worked a lot the last couple years on growth and to reconcile and come to grips with a number of trials and tribulations I have had in my life. I was never under the impression that the poor experiences I had or the emotions associated with them would disappear, even with my growth, but I was surprised with how strong the emotions were and how I felt inside at that moment as a result from situations that occurred many years ago. The emotions felt raw and fresh – like I was experiencing them for the first time.
Quietly, and alone, I allowed myself to experience the emotions I felt but for the right reasons. A very wise man told me one time that it is important to experience our emotions. Squashing them or attempting to push them aside only delays facing them, causing them to build up. Our emotions come out in time. We can face them in a calm and controlled manner or we can face them later in a rage as they explode out of us, likely in a similar situation as I was facing where that reaction would not be warranted.
There were a few things that occurred yesterday that I gained perspective on:
1. Our past will always be a part of who we are. We can’t run away from it. We can’t deny it. We can’t forget it.
2. We can grow from it though. When faced with similar emotions, we can make better decisions than previously made, or if a new situation, we can make good decisions using good perspective.
3. While our past is part of who we are, we aren’t bound to it, unless we choose to be. I choose not to be.