After my divorce I avoided places and people that I closely associated with my past. It felt uncomfortable thinking about going to these places or speaking to people that knew us both. I also felt a little embarrassed every time I explained my divorce story.
I dreaded going back to Cyprus, where we had lived for years and two of my children were born. The first time I went back on my own was not a good experience – I felt very out of place and the memories were overwhelming and negative. I couldn’t bring myself to think anything good about my time in Cyprus.
Of course as time passes we learn to adjust to our new life, and we settle and life goes on. But to truly move on, to really let go of the past, you must do the work. You have to go deep inside and explore, which requires us to question and get to know everything within ourselves.
Time can be a healer or it can just cover up what we don’t want to see. Being a mindfulness practitioner gives me no choice but to explore my mind and the stories I tell myself. So when I feel something unpleasant, mindfulness forces me to explore what’s behind it, which can be a difficult process. But it’s liberating when you get through it.
The next time I went to Cyprus things were different. I noticed that places had changed and yet they were still very familiar. I started to feel happy as memories of my children growing up there came back to me: seeing their school, the beach they played on. I even felt happy to remember being with my ex-husband.
Because the truth is that back then, everything was as it was supposed to be. And now everything is as it is supposed to be. It’s not sad to look back at the past just because there were some unhappy times because there were equally, if not more, happy times.
What’s changed is that I am now able to relate to the past in a different way. I’ve let go of the anger and replaced it with a sense of joy for my new freedom. I guess I’m grateful for the chance to live how I want without having to consider someone else. I am grateful for the new life I am living, the opportunities that now lay ahead and for all the new people I meet.
The past is what it was, which is equally as important as the present because without fully experiencing the past, you can not be fully aware of the possibilities in every moment.
So I re-wrote my past by changing how I relate to it. I respect it for what it taught me, for giving me the chance to have a beautiful family and for the strength it helped me build within myself. Now I wonder, how could I possibly have seen that in a negative way?