Ebenezer Scrooge and A Christmas Carol was the subject of our Sunday morning sermon at church. Or rather, confronting the ghosts of your past to put behind your brokenness and narrate a new future. Writing family history and memoir can bring up some unpleasant memories and even surprises. My relationship with my mother was often contentious, and it wasn’t until I wrote the stories of her childhood that I understood that what I considered her “crazy” thinking was due to the ghosts of her past experiences as well as cultural differences. I wish I had known her stories a lot earlier.
In my own case, my parents’ divorce had a huge impact on me. The word “trust” became meaningless. Eventually, I came to the conclusion I could choose to continue to be angry and trusting of no one or I could give people the benefit of the doubt and just understand they are fallible human beings. Fortunately, by the time my children were born, I had overcome my past for the most part and did not pass a suspicious nature on to them, but I’m happy to see I did pass on a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty.
Writing your past or your family’s past can push the old ghosts out of the closet, giving you a chance to confront pain and misunderstandings and move beyond those bad experiences that shaped you are. Realize that you do not have to be who you are today. You do not have to have the same old arguments and keep the same old resentments. You have the power to start a new story.
If you are feeling pinched by something bad in your past, take a look at those old stories and perhaps you will find new understanding and a new way forward. I wish for us all that the spirit of this season gives us new ways of thinking, and new attitudes of love and forgiving, of ourselves as well as others.
I love this post. I’ve had to confront a lot of ghosts from the past after the destruction of my marriage. My ability to trust has been greatly tested since the man I trusted with my heart brutally crushed it by having an affair. But I have had to go back through the past and figure out why I was drawn to this man who, now that I understand him, is a narcissistic psychopath; what was I lacking that I found in him? Why was I willing to put up with his abuse? His moods? His irresponsibility and so, so much more? I
I’m making progress, but it’s been a painful journey and one that isn’t over with yet.
Hi Melissa, thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, it’s hard to trust again when you have been harshly betrayed. You want to build a wall around your heart. I’m glad you are able to stand back and study what happened, and I hope you find yourself a stronger person now, ready to demand the respect you deserve. Especially when we are young, we can let our emotions rule, and the excitement of love or our feelings of need causes us to ignore signs of what’s wrong. Bad experiences, as unpleasant as they are, teach us important life lessons we can grow from. Best of wishes on your journey of self discovery.
For those who want to write memoir, it is best to have some distance between now and the then you want to write about. Distance gives us a calmer and clearer look at our past (hopefully!) so we can have a better understanding of it and perhaps find meaning, appreciation, or inspiration.