The human body is an amazing thing. Our ability to regenerate and renew and repair ourselves really astounds me, when I stop to think about it. Take, for example, a cut to the arm — deep enough that it bleeds, but shallow enough to avoid hitting any major blood vessels. The platelets in the blood start to form clots; there’s a system in place to stop the bleeding! As a scab develops over the top, the body goes to work growing new skin underneath, with the scab in place to protect the tender spots as they harden. Eventually, the scab falls away, and tougher new skin is in place… a scar.
But what happens if you rip that scab off before it’s ready to go? I don’t mean just picking at it… most of us have probably done that once or twice. I mean, if that entire scab gets ripped off in one go? Or what about cutting right through in the same spot, re-creating the same injury?
Those don’t sound like very pleasant things to me. Nor do they sound very wise.
I got a message on Facebook earlier this week form someone who I had once loved. Someone who would have been the first cis* woman to fuck me, and was certainly the first to show any interest in me. She also wounded me deeply — so much that for a couple years, it was too difficult to reference her by name. She was simply “DE-B” or sometimes just “that bitch.”
She tells me that her therapist wants her to “correct all evils and wrongs” that she’s done to friends, and I have to wonder at what possible wisdom there could be in that. To me, it seems rather stupid to stay stuck in the past, trying to change what was, what happened, what is already done. That advice sounds like telling someone to rip off the scab from a wound they inflicted, to cut into scar tissue, because healing comes from… I dunno, bleeding out?
You can’t “correct” the wrongs you’ve done. You can’t un-break a heart (no matter what Toni Braxton pleads for you to do) and you can’t make your future by living in your past and holding on to your past mistakes. For the same reason that some debts of kindness can never be paid back, but can be passed on and “paid forward,” the hurtful actions of the past cannot always be made painless… but others can be spared the same hurt instead.
I’ve been working on letting go of the ugliness and pain in my past. I take comfort in being able to recognize the good things I can take from even the most horrible people in my life: I remembered how fun it is to play make-believe from my psycho ex, as well as how important a bit of magic is in my life. The boyfriend I had for a few months taught me how to set and maintain boundaries (although it was by his repeatedly violating them) and how to be firm and direct in communication (when he fell apart to the point that I had to repeat until he finally believed me, “if you do not stop attempting to contact me, I will do everything in my power to protect myself — including, if necessary, involving law enforcement. This is your final warning.”) I had lessons in learning when — and how — to let go of a toxic person, even when they’re the closest to a friend I’ve got — from “Equal Opportunity Hater.” He was the one guy at the center of my circles of friends and acquaintances at the time, and I lost touch with a lot of people I wish I could have stayed around. Being told to go shove myself under a subway train if I didn’t come crawling back on my knees to play his game, his way… well, that was a less desirable option.
So, when I look at the time that I knew DE-B, I figure I ended up with a 2-week cross-country vacation with paid airfare and lodging, even if I didn’t eat much. I took in some self-guided US History, took a fair few photos, and came home with a handful of trinkets and shiny things (most of which were lost in being mugged twice over the next few months, both with a pistol in my face.) The original purpose of the trip was completely missed, but I’m claiming my own consolation prize instead — I won’t count it as a failure.
I’m home now, in a safe place with a woman I love and who loves me — MFP and I do what we can to make our lives together work. Things aren’t perfect, but we’re hanging in there… and I’m looking to the future, not living in the past.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Decide that for yourself!