Monday, April 22, 2013

Ghosts

Moving from one stage of life to another is never a clean break.

We expand our families, we change jobs, we change communities. We may move three states away or from one company to another.

But we're always followed. We're followed by our decisions, our reputations, our identities. Whatever our complete body of work in life has been, including our hangups, our spiritual scabs, our grudges, the times we've hurt others or have been hurt, it all follows us. Our ideas about how life was meant to be or may be someday still follow us.

In some cases, but not always, relationships follow us. Our immediate families, sure. That's a given. Past classmates, acquaintances, co-workers, and friends follow us, too. If not physically, we may keep track of each other through other means. The ones we want, anyway. And that always ends up being a smaller list than we think it'll be.

Not everything that follows us is desirable. There are those instances where we're running from something; where we hope that certain elements of our past won't notice we've left or won't find us after the fact. We may want to leave parts of ourselves behind to haunt places we no longer inhabit, cursed to remain as testaments to times that had run their course.

But we are the ones who are haunted. We are the ones doomed to address the ghosts of who and where we've been.

The worst thing we can do is ignore them. It will only make them angry and cause them to loom larger, whispering their reminders, possessing us in ways we can't see until in hindsight. No, they must be acknowledged and confronted, no matter how fearful it may make us to do so.

At least a few exorcisms may see success. With a few clear boundaries, a few stern conversations, we may be able to banish some ghosts back to wherever we found them. With others, it takes some act of catharsis that strips them of their power. With still others, it may be only time and patience that sees them slowly fade away into irrelevance. And with still yet others, we need someone else to help remove them.

But some remain. And for those most clingy, stubborn apparitions, those most belligerent and accusing spirits of times past, we may only wait out their torment.

For those, we endure, taking small steps toward hope where we can.

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