EXTRACTION FROM THE MIRE OF THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

The endless recitation of woes on blogs I used to enjoy is giving me a headache. It’s not a lack of personal sympathy. It’s more like emotional exhaustion. So many people seem to be stuck in the mire of misery that began in childhood.

Don’t they want to move on? The quagmire of despair has become comfortable. They have moved in and made misery their home. Some of these bloggers continue exploring the depths of their suffering for hundreds — thousands? — of posts. Many are closing in on Social Security yet are still suffering from childhood trauma. So much for time casting a rosy haze over the past.

There ought to be a legal cutoff date at which point you are required to close the book on whatever awful experiences life has dealt you. At some point, there ought to be a law forcing you to come to grips with your rotten childhood and terrible former relationships. Or at least be required to find another subject about which to write.

we are not our mistakes

I know lots of people who were abused as children. I was. My brother was. Many of the people to whom I sold or gifted my book had never been able to talk about it before.  I helped more people to be able to talk about it. It was a big deal for me.

Because we don’t talk about it. We act like we are the guilty parties. It seems that more folks than not grew up in dysfunctional families … and each dysfunction was different than any other. And anyway, who hasn’t had a terrible relationship or three?

I plead guilty on all charges, your honor.

It was my first husband (before you ask, he was the one who died) who gave me a Gibbs slap and got me to get it together. This was before my second marriage, the one in which I managed to step in front of the same bullet I’d previously dodged.


Note to Self: We never get too old to act like morons.


Jeffrey didn’t have a storybook childhood either (who did?), so he had his own issues to resolve. One day, when I was going on about my father he said: “You know, you’ve told me these stories before. Several times. Maybe it’s time to move on.” It was good advice and I wish he’d taken it.

You have to want to move on. It took time and work, but I’m glad I did it. There have been plenty of new traumas and I doubt I’d have survived if I hadn’t cleared the decks. Nowadays, I’m overloaded. I cannot bear to read another angst-laden tale of abuse and emotional trauma. I’m aware is its, was awful.

Been there. Survived. I support all efforts to free oneself from the lingering effects of the past are hard. We are so stubborn about the bad stuff we’ve gone through. Why is pain so much clingier than good times? There’s enough misery to go around without adding more.

For all of us, maybe it’s time to stop defining ourselves as the worst times in our lives.

  • We are not what others did to us.
  • We aren’t our mistakes.
  • As much as we have suffered, we’ve also found fun, joy, friends, love. It’s just so much easier to remember the pain.

We empower misery and dismiss happier times.

Misery is like a piano falling on your head; happiness just creeps up on you. The result? Long after the people who hurt us have disappeared from our lives, they are still beating us up.

Let’s celebrate the good times. Who couldn’t use a few good laughs? Especially now. I was SURE today was Thursday. It’s Wednesday. By Sunday, it might be next month. Who can tell?



Categories: Anecdote, humor, Marilyn Armstrong, Personal, trees

Tags: , , , ,

28 replies

  1. Didn’t you post this before? Didn’t I respond saying that what people post on their blogs is their business? Didn’t I also say that I often find your blog too bleak to read? I just don’t read it if I see where it’s going. As for overcoming our personal stuff, I think for a lot of people that remains a huge question. It can take a lot of life experience, thought, rumination and feedback from others (in my case I had a good therapist) to figure stuff out, stuff that feels like a hangnail we catch on our jean’s pocket a thousand times a day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t post this exact thing, but maybe something like that. I’m just in favor of lightening up a bit. Of course, I can always choose to not read, but that isn’t the point. I sometimes feel like they are closing in. The walls get smaller when we start removing people and I do not like doing it. I’m beginning to feel like I shouldn’t keep doing this. I want a world where we are allowed and encouraged to laugh.

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  2. Very wise words indeed, Marilyn. And love the note to self! So true. 🙂

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  3. You know, it has never once occurred to me to write about my childhood with my alcoholic father. There are stories in my family that are so bad no one ever even refers to what happened when. I’d prefer to keep it that way; guess that’s why I’ve never written about it.

    On the other hand, many bloggers find writing to be cathartic; if they wish to vent on their own sites, I don’t have a problem with that. That’s their option as a blog owner. There are many sites I won’t visit simply because I find them too depressing. That’s my option as a reader.

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  4. I am, no doubt, one of the people you targeted with this post. Mea culpa, but I find it a bit high handed to assume all people have healed the same as you or have the strength to firmly put the past in the past and just walk away. I’ve been in therapy to do so since I was about 26 years of age (over thirty years now) and it doesn’t stick. All the time anyway. Ever hear of ‘triggers’? I have those and sadly they work too well. I don’t wallow ‘back there’ but I sure do remember. I’d love to forget. I’d love to shut up about it, because yeah, I’m positive people are sick to the teeth of my ‘so sad childhood’ and subsequent pain and blah de blah blah. I write to purge myself of the latest creeping crud of emotion and I’ll continue to do so. I should probably begin to mark those posts ‘private -eyes only’ because of the subject matter. It’s no one’s business though, none but mine. And one can always stop reading as soon as they realize “oh gawd, it’s yet another whiny sad little me post’ they’ve clapped eyes on. I’d suggest that as a great cure for your emotional drain from reading too many angst riddled posts. I agree with Ruth. I have moved on from my past and I’ve dealt with it in as good a fashion as I can. Sorry if my own personal cure is disagreeable to you.

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    • I don’t think we all heal the same way. I was ten years older than you when I finally found a way out and oddly, it was Garry who accidently showed it to me. But I do think that misery gets to be habitual. We get comfortable in whatever place we have landed and I think we don’t even know how gloomy we have become. We don’t see it. I didn’t see it. I thought everyone felt that way. And I also know there are challenges that some of us can’t face … or at least not until we have some kind of ephiphany that therein lies a problem.

      I didn’t mention anyone. There was a reason for that. There are many people who form unhappiness rings with others. They support each others’ negativity.

      None of us are ever going to be smiley people. But we also don’t need to be dour all the time. You were not the object of this piece which I actually wrote it years ago and finally got around to rewriting. I’ve also stopped reading most of the anti-Trump rants for the same reason. They do not make me feel better. They don’t make me hate the bastard less. They just depress me and if they are really well-written, I instantly feel doomed. So I’m very selective about reading anything connected to the news. I haven’t changed my attitude, just the way I approach it. Which is what this is about.

      When Garry lost his job, he acted like his life was over. All the good stuff he had done vanished. He declared himself a loser. It was all doom and gloom. And drinking in misery. He was the one who made me realize we are NOT the worst things we’ve ever done. We are that, but we are more. We don’t need to become robotic smilers, but it’s okay to recognize that we’ve done some good things and deserve to recognize ourselves for it rather than just the bad stuff that happened TO us.

      On the other hand, if you recognize yourself, maybe you need to find more of the good stuff you’ve done and give yourself some solid pats on the back. We’ve all done something valuable. We deserve a little positive recognition, from ourselves first and foremost.

      I should mention that I wrote the original verstion of this in 2013, long before I met you.

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  5. Every day is today! Ain’t i profound? Happy whatever day 😉🌈

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  6. I agree with you Marilyn. Somehow, misery and hurt takes a hold over some people’s hearts and minds and refuses to let go. Or they don’t want to let go of it. But then they miss out on all the joy and fun life has brought them.
    BTW, it IS Thursday today! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember a shrink pointed out to me that depression is also a habit. We get very comfy with depression. It’s the way we have always been, so we stay where we are familiar. It’s like quitting cigarettes. It’s not JUST the nicotine. It’s also the physical habits that go with smoking and that, for me, was the harder part.

      When he said that, I had lost a marriage I knew I was going to lose and the life that came with it — which I didn’t expect to lose, but should have. I was really depressed. Blackhole depression. Yet I was involved in a born-again relationship (Garry), I had a job I was good at. It was the shrink who pointed out that depression is a habit, especially the kind I had which goes on for YEARS without a “up” to break the trend. I think that was the beginning of realizing that I didn’t have to live like this forever. I could change. It just took about 15 more years to actually GET there.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We can’t let that happen to us. There’s just too much good stuff out there to get mired in the past.
    Leslie

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  8. Oh, boy–I was gonna ask what a Gibbs slap was cause I thought of Gibbs, your dog. Never mind. Gibbs on NCIS. You can see where my priorities are….

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  9. Everyone deals with trauma differently and some do not realize or have the guts to name it until older. Abuse causes scars that will always be there. Just because you have been able to move on does not mean others have your timing. Same with grief. We all grieve differently. Same with health. The happiness toxicity that some proclaim are just as hurtful. Just my two cents.

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    • I didn’t say we all have to smile together, but there has to be a time when you realize you are locked into the same place. I was in my sixties when I realized I was still hating people who were long dead. Whatever I was doing, I wasn’t doing it to them. I was the only one suffering. I will never be Miss Pollyanna, but I also don’t have to be a permanent rain cloud. It’s not black or white.

      Like

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