Tuesday, December 14, 2004

We are shaped by our past

We are shaped by our past

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, December 14, 2004 11:55 PM

I have often said in this column that we do not just have a past, but we ARE our past. I am the sum total of all my experiences: the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

The consolidated impact of all these happenings make me what I am today. They determine how I think and behave. They have marked and moulded my character and values and greatly influenced the directions in my life.

This is why it is so important to know and understand our past. But this is a lot easier said than done. All of us are wounded to a greater or lesser degree because of past experiences. Hurt, rejection, abandonment, failure and abuse of different kinds: all these and other traumatic experiences have contributed to our wounding.

Some of us have been so badly wounded that we have difficulty functioning in society. The traumas of the past have so damaged us that we don’t know how to love effectively and intimately. Or perhaps we are very talented but are so wounded that we cannot seem to actualize our potentials. Fearful and full of self-doubt, we stand back and allow many who are less skilled to move ahead of us.

Maybe we have been so badly abused physically, emotionally and perhaps even sexually that our wounds get in the way of our finding true happiness. We might be so hurt that anger and rage even keep rising to the surface and causing us all sorts of self-inflicted harm.

In fact, the impact of these negative happenings is such that they continue to hold us in their grip. We cannot seem to break loose from them.

Worse, often we do not even understand them. As a result, we cannot know ourselves and the nature of the wounds that keep us trapped in our past. We are so badly damaged that we cannot even see the true extent of the destruction. We are bleeding, but don’t know where the blood is coming from. And so, the bleeding continues unabated till the day we die unless there is some kind of intervention.

The most difficult wounds to treat are those that occurred in childhood. They happened when we were defenseless and vulnerable. We did not have the ability to understand what was happening to us. Perhaps we did not even see our hurt as woundedness. We were young, immature and unable to sort things out. In many ways, we were totally helpless in the face of situations and circumstances we could not control.

Because of the pain that we were never able to deal with properly, we continue to hurt in adulthood, and the emotional and psychological bleeding takes a heavy toll on our lives. If only we could find the causes, the sources of our hurt, we might better deal with it.

This is the first in a series of columns that will explore some of the dimensions of the past traumas. There is no way that we can cover all the ground needed to heal, but it is hoped that my readers will learn enough to be motivated to look more deeply into the past and find the clues that will lead them to discover more about themselves and their woundedness. Then, the healing can begin.

More tomorrow.


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