When we leave the past, but it doesn’t leave us.

How about those feelings of the past not leaving us alone?  We try and try to leave the past behind, focus on today, and move forward.  But the instant we close our eyes, or drop our guard, there’s the past creeping in again, occupying our thoughts, taking up our energy.

In my experience, a big part of this in my life was plain old-fashion habit.  Dwelling in and churning the past over and over often comes disguised as the past chasing us.  But does it?  Or is the less healthy part of ourselves still seeking it out of habit and familiarity?  Has our unhealthy self found a side door to remain sick, hurt, remorseful, regretting, resenting?

For me, this has been a big factor.  But one I have been learning more and more to overcome.  How?  New habits.

And how do we develop new habits?  Same way as we did the old ones; do once, then repeat… and repeat…and repeat…. and repeat….etc.  Yes, good old fashion practice.  Good old fashion persistence.

I find I don’t feel in the grip of the past when I take my mind of its persistent insistence to be forefront in my mind and focus on what is important today.  And if I slip, I simply dust myself off, and do it again… and again… and again…. and again.  Today, new habits are forming.  It is easier than it was months ago.  The burden is lifting.  The weights are falling off.  Life is so much better.




About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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9 Responses to When we leave the past, but it doesn’t leave us.

  1. Chaz….

    Thank you so much for your wonderful, kind words of encouragement. There was a lot in there to process, but one thing I got out of it was to reconnect with my program, or at least those who would understand me more, those of us in recovery. And I’ve started the meetings again, especially after being laid off from my job. But my problem isn’t with reconnecting with the program as much as it is WANTING to surrender EVERYTHING. I know we battle two very different addictions, but we both know that they are very much alike at the same time. Or at least some with the same consequences — pain, guilt, shame, loneliness, anger, resentment, depression. I’m at a place where I’m desperately afraid to stop losing weight and/or gaining weight. Do I need to get to a point where I can surrender that final part before working the steps, or can I work the steps while dealing with this? My husband seems I can’t, but I think it’s better than no recovery at all. Sigh….I’m just taking this one day at a time and hopefully I can get to a place where I can let that last part go.

    • Chaz says:

      Hey R/A…. thanks. Didn’t mean to blast ya. Just “speaking the truth in love”, as God as I understand him puts it.

      I recently drifted from my program. Started to see more differences than similarities with people in my community. Then realized that the differences weren’t going to go away so I stopped focusing on them and developed a better ignoring skill. The reward was the similarities came shining through and I felt home again. But in a new and better way.

      My wife definitely cannot understand that one part of me that those who have travelled my same path can. It does not mean she does not care or is incapable of ever understanding it. But fellow sufferers were fast-tracked to a level of understanding by sharing virtually identical experiences. Those who have not travelled the path have a different route of learning what we have.

      Glad to hear you are finding what works for you. Glad to hear you have a supportive husband. Hang in there and as you say, just do a day at a time. The days will add up all on their own.



  2. jobo says:

    It is SUCH a habit to revisit the past, I agree. But sometimes it’s just best to learn from the past, come to terms with it and move on. I think you are a great example of that!

    • Chaz says:

      Jolene… yes, there are things to learn from the past. Agreed 100%. In fact, the very lesson I speak of in realizing that ruminating and resenting are habits is a lesson learned by experiences of the past.

      I suppose there are clearly two types of past-gazing. The healthy learning type, and the unhealthy wallowing type.

      And maybe I need to more clearly differentiate. The past-gazing that I have found so damaging (yet so freeing to be rid of) is the aspect of it that limits us and drains us.

      The lessons that made us stronger, certainly are things that will help us move forward. So I guess the key is what part of our past helps us move forward, versus pulling us back?

      Somehow, many of us developed the habit of fixating on the parts that held us back, hurt us, and limited our ability to move beyond the grip of those circumstances. We remained handcuffed to the past.

      Those cuffs are mostly loosened for me now. And from reading your material, I would say for you too. Looking forward to hearing more in your next phase.



  3. jeremy says:

    I find, when my mind is still, and I get quiet the rat starts rolling the wheel in my head. Even if I’ve worked through shit in the past, it is still there, and if I am not careful, those thoughts consume me. I agree changing the habit works. But as of late, I find myself revisiting certain people, places and things in my memory, I see the vision but the sting doesn’t come as quickly. We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

    Sometimes I wish I could wipe my mental hard drive of certain things. It would make life a lot easier.

    Thanks for the post. I like the new digs.


  4. Chaz says:

    Jeremy… nice to hear from you.

    Agreed it is a tough habit to shake. I experience that myself.

    Maybe the dividing line between recovery and uber-recovery is the willingness to trudge through the seemingly endless retraining process of thinking differently against the tide of our old habits. Like so many times many of us probably have experienced, when we feel like we have tried and tried for what feels like, “forever”. I wonder if the mere act of trudging through the forever isn’t the exact process that will work our muscles to arrive at the next level?

    I suppose that is why we practice, “Just for Today”. It keeps us from thinking this is a forever thing.

    It is exhausting and sometimes discouraging. It may be the best thing for us. Who knows. All we can do is take the new pathway one more time, regardless to how it feels. And if we waiver, we dust ourself off and pick up again.



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