I was recently in a session with a client and he was sharing with me that he is tired of people saying to forget the past, get closure, and move on with life stating, “You never get closure, you learn how to live with your past.”
Do we really ever forget our past or can we, or do we sometimes have a hard time remembering our past for what it truly is? As I also listened to another therapist give a talk he stated, “Unexpressed memories, become repressed memories, which turns into depression” and I thought about how we have an intrinsic need as humans to be heard, to be able to not only discuss our memories, but also to recover them. Our memories can be full of things that happened to us or things we may have done that continue to put shame, doubt and fear into our minds wondering who we really are. Childhood abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional) is an example of trauma that can put this shame, doubt and fear into our minds having a tremendous impact on our self-worth, self-esteem, and self-image causing us to believe we are not good enough. Sometimes our trauma was so bad we split off parts of ourselves and repress the truth because it is too painful to remember, in turn this can create a whole internal world to protect us from the true pain of what we may have been through. This internal world many others may never even know about because these parts of ourselves may never have been given a voice so they may remain unaware consciously even to ourselves. In turn, we subconsciously create the “persona” the person we show to the world that we deem is acceptable and is our social mask. However, these other parts of ourselves (our shadows) that we have repressed or split off want to be known and may pop their heads up when least expected it and cause problems in our lives through flashes of anger, addictions, jealousy, mood swings, impulsive behavior, etc. The key to unlocking ourselves from these pains and vivacious cycles is to not try and forget the past, which is not possible, but to find someone we trust to tell our stories to who will make us feel understood and validated so we can integrate our memories and the split- off parts of ourselves in a new perspective, not forgetting our pasts, but seeing it and ourselves for who we really are in this present moment….worthy and whole.