I guess the genesis of this blog has been a series of events that has caused me to reflect frequently over the last few months. I’m currently living in a time of my life, where all the heroes I grew up listening to or watching on the screen both big and small, writers who shaped my thinking have slowly been dying off which has been a reminder of my own increasing age. Something I forget all to often, only to be reminded by my body in a series of aches and pains.
Looking back is the cool thing to do, retro is sheik, boybands reforming is the new thing. It seems that the past is the new future. I’m a big beleiever that the past can be a great place to visit and learn, however its rarely a good place to live. Look back, don’t stare I was told once, and it’s something i’ve tried to do, to look at my past but not to spend too much time there.
These recent events ive alluded to have been varied and yet spookily quite connected to me, although for them to be relevent, you could argue, who else would they be connected to???
As a father, i’m forever trying to introduce (indoctrinate) my daughter to some of the finer things in life (Star Wars is one of her favourite films) however I was recently watching a Christmas present, Press Gang on DVD, something I was watching on TV over 25 years ago, it instantly snapped me back to my younger days as I was reminded by how all the themes were hard hitting and got me to think about things differently. I often find myself drawn to TV shows and films from my timeline, and the draw to it is quite strong. It has become a joke between myself and my wonderful wife who allows me to wonder down these passages of my past.
Another time, whilst visiting my best friend of forty years, we were talking about childhood things as we often do, it the time we often sink into deep nostalgia and wade around in the mire that is our lives, Then, the following day whilst reminicing with my daughter as I showed her my hometown, I came face to face with a former sex worker who I knew when I was homeless. Once pretty, this woman was now ravaged by the years alongside drugs and alcohol, and here was I so far removed from this old story. Recently when I talked to a friend about this I was infomred that she had recently died. It hit me more than I thought, these frayed and fragile ties to our pasts can easily become so brittle and dissapear like wisps of smoke.
The past is a strange place, its somewhere we have all been to, and yet it is experienced in such an idividual way.
Clients come to my room, often with the pasts wrapped around them like a cloak, or a shrough. For some people, the past is a warzone, with casualties and brutality spattered across it, and these clients sit down which the historical PTSD from living through it, sometimes, uncovering their past is like walking in a minefield, that hasnt been cleared by sappers and there is fear of stepping on one of these well buried mines and the explosion that follows cascades into the hear and now as past forgotten experiences or bottled emotions burst forth.
Its been important for me to look at my past, to explore its nooks and crannies, particular how its shaped and developed my attachment style, its helped me look at the strengths that i’ve gained and developed , its also been an opportunity to put to bed some of the more difficult and painful experiences, attached to regret, and gult and shame.
In our pasts lies all the answers to who we are and how we have become. There are those of us who can become so stuck in our lives that sometimes the need to go back and explore those shadowy paths in order to understand and heal in order to move forward.
A year ago, during a bout of nostalgia, looked up my neice on facebook and found her. Not having seen her for over 30 years, this little girl is now a grown woman with children of her own, I had hoped to find out about my older brother who I have not seen for almost 25 years. Then, recently, My neice messged me a picture asking if the face looked familiar. As I stared at the face of my brother, clearly older, not how I remembered, it caused me an overwhelming surge of memories, both good and bad, another connection that had become frayed and forgotten and led me to realise that throughout our lives we are often reminded of moments and sections from the crowded attic of memory.
Clients sometimes present with ‘childhood issues’ relating to experiences they’ve endured or losses theyve been worn down with. Of fragmented relationship or belief systems that have become such a part of them that they no longer know where they begin and the impact of these beliefs end. The opportunity to take time to sensitively sift through these memories and experiences can let a client move forward, become unstuck, put to bed some of these damaging experiences, reshape their experience and free themselves from the trappings of these conditions.
Equally these trips into nostalgia can provide a diversion from the troubling here and now, an escape from the harsh realities of today and the difficulties that brings in preferance for the hacyon days of yesterday.
Look back don’t stare, In AA literature they talk about not regretting the past, ‘nor will we shut the door on it’. This past we have is our map, our satnavs history of the journey to now. Only by exploring this past cast we begin to think about where we need to go next.
My brother messaged me. And suddenly a connection is formed, A daughter finds her father, a brother talks to a brother. A past and present are brought together which will continue to shape futures.
I like this term, Nostalgianaut, coined by my best friend of forty years, this idea that we can be archaelogists of our own lives in order to better understand who we are and who we now wish to be.
A Thirsk Counsellor.