Get out of my present!

a labyrinth

The title of this post probably sounds like a child bickering with a sibling. Goodness knows that I heard that very sentence exclaimed by each of my daughters on Christmas or birthdays, generally followed by, “Mommy, she’s not sharing!” Today I want to look at a different connotation:

What do you do when some unpleasant memory, person, or emotion from your past threatens to intrude upon your present life?

I have the incredible fortune to share the lives of some pretty amazing people. My family alone has some of the most wonderful people on the planet. I also have an endless stream of students who somehow trust me enough to let me into their lives, for which I am eternally grateful. I learn so much about myself by listening to their stories. what’s more, these wonderful folks allow me to walk alongside them for a few steps of their journey. Some of them allow me to help clear past debris that could inhibit their future success. That alone is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

I’ve watched old wounds, misconceptions, and never-uttered horrific experiences as they surface in these people. The outward signs are unmistakable: blushing, tear, stammering, changed voice, shaking hands, etc. I’ve experienced the same at so many times as my own wounds surface. When this happens, I’ve always thought we have only two choices:

  1. hide from the wound and allow it to fester or
  2. face it and end the fear we associate with it

This week, I learned  a new skill, and it reminded me of the movie Labyrinth. In that movie, Jennifer Connelly‘s character loses her baby brother, for whom she is a temporary guardian. To find him, she finds herself in a labyrinth filled with different adventures, some of which frighten her. In the end, she faces an evil character (played magnificently by David Bowie) who leads her through a chase that confuses and frustrates her. Finally she comes to a profound realization and utters these simple words:

“You have no power over me.”

In that realization, she finds her brother and the troubles end.

I had a similar experience this week in which a terrible, yet healing, wound tried to re-insert itself into my life. In the moment that it happened, I felt my heart  race, my stomach knot, and my hands shake. I could hardly think clearly as the pain threatened to overwhelm me again. Then I remembered Ms. Connelly’s words and regained my power over the past. This wound has no relevance in my current life and is healing well on its own. I don’t feel a wish to poke the scab or attempt to cleanse it further, as doing either would only prolong the healing process. I re-asserted my strength that I gained in the wake of the situation and found an unanticipated gift in the process: More self-esteem. I am strong enough to say NO to  the distractions of my experiences so that I may focus clearly on manifesting my future.

In a way, I assertively told the past to stay in its place. My present is mine, and I’m not willing to have it sullied by old wounds. My future lies before my like a gorgeous, glittering pile of Christmas presents, each one with the potential of containing something wonderful. These are my presents– MINE. I’ll share them with whomever I choose.



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