Looking at the Past

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I’ve met a lot of people who were repulsed by self-analysis of any kind and generally disliked looking back or rehashing the past as they would say.

Past is the past, it happened, we can’t change it, why bother…

Well, there is a big reason to look at the past.  In looking back, we get to re-examine if what we think happened is really what happened.  Sometimes merely looking back from the perspective of an adult, we can have a refreshing view on something that our parents did, for example. I remember when I did my first Landmark Forum in 2005, the leader asked those of us whose parents were under 24 when we were born to stand up.  So we did.  Even in merely admitting how young my parents were when I was born, I stopped holding so much resentment towards some of the choices they have made that affected me. Same happened to all the other people in the seminar.

Often, just merely looking back, or talking about what happened, can uncover that some of the things we could swear to be true don’t make any sense at all.  After my father passed 2 months ago now, I remember my mom saying something that I remembered to be true except, my timeline was off.  Literally, in that instant of us talking about something that happened, I got to rewrite my story.

Certain things come with a lesson we may have missed the first time around.  I could never figure out why I was trying to diet so much in my 20s when I looked so beautiful and lean in all my pictures, I realized though, I wasn’t dieting because I didn’t look good when I saw myself in a mirror but as a reaction to a comment someone made to me: “You will be fat like my mom and aunt when you grew up”.  For all I know, he meant it as a joke, but it had me choose dieting and being skinny over life for at least 7 years while I was battling eating disorder and another decade or so of dieting and thinking I would only be accepted if I was skinny enough.

Looking back is not a waste of time, people!  It can prevent us from making the same mistakes again and again.  It can shine the light on things we couldn’t or didn’t understand at the time and offer a much needed relief.  This is actually why therapy works.  While I prefer coaching to therapy as it is focused more on producing results, I definitely see so much value in talking things over and letting myself share the world the way I see it so I can sort out things that I couldn’t sort out when I was younger and question things that I made up.

It’s true that we can’t change the past and that no looking back can ever have what happened be any other way than the way that it is.  What we could change, however, is the stories we told when those things happened because all of us mostly living as a reaction to the story we told about the things that happened to us.  Change your story, change your life.  Looking at the past is an opportunity to directly impact our experience in the present and have a different future.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”              Wayne Dyer 

But it’s not my Father’s day

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I am celebrating my amazing husband today, his commitment to our 9 month old baby Adrian and his willingness to work out every bump in a road so we can have an extraordinary life.

As my husband is calling his dad to wish him a Happy Father’s day and I am browsing facebook to wish it to my friends who have become fathers, I am feeling the bitter sweet.

My father is in Croatia and has lived there for the past almost 30 years.  I saw him briefly at the airport in Belgrade 4  years ago.  I was flying back to Montenegro after my green card interview in US Embassy after much stress.  He came with his grown up younger son and I felt so completely awkward.  We had less than 30 minutes together and during that time his son, my half brother, was insisting that his/our dad takes him to see something in the city since they already made the trip.  When I got on a plane, I just wept.  It was the happiest day of my life as I was granted a green card, something I have wanted for over a decade yet, I was filled with deep sadness for the lack of connection with my dad.  That day at Belgrade’s airport was the first time I saw him after 25 something years.  And even though I am his first child, somehow I felt like I no longer had the right to have him in my life.

Maybe this sounds like a sad story.  What I am sharing here is not nearly as sad as the days of my childhood when I was longing and trying to understand why my dad is not more committed to being my father.  It was tough to figure that out: I was a smart kid, talented, pretty, straight A student, ambitious, but his lack of presence had scarred me for life.  Over time, I learned to pretend I don’t love him or miss him because everyone else thought he was a jerk, so it took years of work to undo the feelings I have buried so deep inside because I didn’t think how I felt was accepted in the world.

In 2005, I did transformational work that helped me heal.  It allowed me to find gratitude for my life that wouldn’t be possible without both of my parents not just my mom who was there for me through thick and thin, loving, committed and above all PRESENT and AVAILABLE.  I was able to stop wanting to change the past, the years of lack and missing and focus on what is in front of me.  I stopped blaming myself and thinking that I did something wrong – probably what all children do when their parents divorce.  I realized, just because my dad wasn’t there for me, doesn’t mean I can’t have a man in my life with whom I can create family and future.  So I worked on it, slowly, diligently, step by step.  My amazing marriage is a product of that journey and my commitment to having love in my life.

So today, I celebrate my beautiful husband.  I send love to my dad as I realize how much he missed.  I celebrate my mother for being both mother and father to me… and I celebrate myself for how much I grew despite my circumstances.

Love to all fathers out there!!! Love your children! Love your daughters!

M