Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Your Past Define You?

How much are we products of our pasts? Are we forever bound by the things that have happened to us? Is there no hope when we're thrown into situations not of our choosing which shape us?

The "oh yes, I do TOO have free will, Mr Hull" part of me wants to stand up with an emphatic "I choose who I am."  Maybe not well, but I choose. But, I don't know if that's entirely true and honest. The past at least affects us, if it doesn't control us.  It has an influence on who we become, on what bothers us, on what keeps us up at night.  But, too, it has an influence on the good things that develop in us. Our strengths and talents and passions. It doesn't have to be all bad.

little girl What we experience does shape us. When I was a little girl, my parents divorced, a common story nowadays.  But I was young, and rarely do grown-ups ever tell the real story to little ones, and I'm not saying they should.  But, in my 8-year-old-view, my dad left because I wasn't enough to stay for. I was sure that if I had just been better-behaved, or smarter, or more outgoing, or more exciting, or less in the way, well then-- then I would have been enough.  But I wasn't any of those things, and so he left.

Sure, as I got older and understood more of the actual story, I knew it wasn't about me.  It was about them, and their problems. It wasn't about me not being enough... but I think the damage had been done. That fear of "not being enough" stays with me always. Every time a friendship has run its course, I believe it's because I wasn't enough.  Maybe that doesn't have anything to do with the real reason, and usually it doesn't.  But that doesn't stop the voice in my head from telling me, "If only you'd been enough."

So I can't tell you that our past doesn't shape us.  It does.  But, I don't think it has to define us, either. We still get to choose how we respond to the effects our pasts have on us. We are more than the things done to us, we are more than the trials we've gone through in our lives. We do... we get to stand up and say "I am bigger than what I've lived through." We get to be strong enough to punch the past in the face and say "No."

And sometimes you get strong enough that when a relationship does reach its end, you can look at it and understand that it wasn't about you not being enough.  It wasn't even about you at all.


  1. Hard thing to remember. Good thing to know.

  2. yes sometimes we do take on things that have nothing to do with us and unfortunately they can shape us to some extent

    1. ah, but don't miss that we can overcome them, too. That's important...

  3. true words here


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