The question that haunts many people in recovery is whether the past is truly laid to rest or not. Can we, as human beings with memory and experience, really only look forward? Is the past of any use to us once we have started to feel better about ourselves. Is it where our problem lies: In trauma and emotional scars?
There is a latin phrase from Seneca (not that I am familiar with her work!) which says “In sapientis quoque animo, etiam cum vulnus sanatum est, cicatrix manet.” So said Seneca in De Ira, meaning, “In the wise one’s heart, even when the wound has healed, the scar remains.” (I lifted this from Glamourbrain here).
There is deep meaning in these words. In this age of tattooed quotations one might be familiar with the cicatrix manet bit (the scar remains) but not the bit that comes before.
For some people the scars of the past are an horrendous burden that sour almost every waking moment. Others have found grace enough to see things differently and start to let go of it all. But do we really become ‘new people’?
My own experience is that I am not haunted by the past as I previously was. My memory and feeling about so much that went on has changed from anger, dread and fear, to a degree of understanding.
And yet at times I feel as though I am in some way re-experiencing certain things. The difference is that these things are not pulling me toward death or madness. They are part of my everyday existence and need to be re-lived in a 1000 different ways. It is in re-living my emotional footprint that I come to re-make myself. This time I see through different eyes even if some of the patterns seem the same.
Understanding is part of love, and love is the fundamental nature of our being. If we are in conflict with the past then we have not learned to let it be loved and cared for. This is a fundamental flaw in human nature. It is my experience that help is needed.
Help of a spiritual nature is needed if we are to let part of ourselves fall back into the past where it belongs and then become what we can be. Anxiety is a symptom of this resistance.
The need for re-generation is vital. When a persons inner resource fails them the only way is down. Further and further until blackness come before there eyes and there seems no hope.
Even though the scar remains, understanding will give us freedom to become new. Newness is not dying to the things that haunt us. Newness is knowing that these moments are only possible because the past has been come to terms with.