It has been brought to my attention that I dwell on the past too much. This is, without a doubt, true. I don’t exactly mean to do it. Or at least I don’t make a conscious effort to do it. Yet all too often I find myself strolling down memory lane thinking about “what could have been.”
I know we all do it to some extent, but I worry I might do it more than other people. I find myself drifting off to conversations I had five years ago and trying to rewrite the script in my head so that if I ever have a similar conversation (read argument) with that same person again in the future, I’ll know exactly what to say this time. Never mind the fact that the chances of this actually happening are probably slim to none.
I have a foot locker full of my past. Old yearbooks, photo albums, diaries, report cards, poetry books (ye gads!) and small trinkets litter it. Most of the things are fairly benign. I mean, how much harm can my high school report cards cause? But the diaries get me in nostalgic trouble all the time. There is some force that compels me to open them once every year or two. For the most part they are filled with the inane ramblings of a geeky 12-19 year-old. Who called me, what teacher annoyed me, the new outfit I got or concert I went to*. Unfortunately, they are also filled with page after page of somebody done me wrong stories followed by even more musing as to what I did to deserve said wrong (generally being fat and geeky). It’s those pages that get me in trouble. All the old wounds start opening and festering a little. Suddenly people I’ve forgotten about or who I’m on fairly good terms with, become mortal enemies again. All I can remember is the hurtful thing they said or did to me during chemistry class. Which in turn, creates that little chip on my shoulder and eventually leads to the grudge I am so good at carrying around with me.
That’s where I find myself right now. I’m trying to start a friendship anew, as an adult this time, not a jaded teenager. The only problem is that I keep bringing up past slights. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it until it was pointed out to me and I went back and reread some of my messages. I know I have to stop, but these little passive aggressive messages keep turning up in whatever I write. My martyr complex kicks in on some subconscious level and I start playing the victim again. After a week in my Successful Teaching for Acceptance of Responsibility class, you’d think I could get it out of my system. After all, I’m rebuilding my curriculum in an attempt to make my students aware of the choices they make and learning how to own their actions and words.
But it seems I can’t stop living in the past. Or maybe I won’t stop living in the past. Or I don’t stop living in the past. No, I chose not to stop living in the past, and that is where the problem lies.** I realize only I can change this foible of mine, and I’m honestly trying. I just think it’s going to take some time and maybe the burning of my diaries.
*The only concerts I went to before college were Tiffany and New Kids on the Block…man, I was cool.
**A four part language exercise from my class. Meant to put responsibility where it truly lies.