How to Let Go of the Past


One of my favorite lyrics is in a song called “Rise Up” on the album Goddess Chant by Shawna Carol:

The past is over; it can touch me not.
Let’s celebrate now all we’ve got.

The song reminds me to look at what is here and now in my life, not what I left behind me.  Even if every day doesn’t make me feel like I’m in the middle of a Broadway musical, I’d still pick right now over five, ten, or even twenty years ago.  Along with the pain I experienced came the many lessons that shaped me.  Who would I be without them?  What if I hadn’t learned or grown wiser from them?

Having been through two divorces and several not-quite-relationships, it would be easy to gaze backward on all of the debris and wreckage and think “failure.”  After all, I didn’t follow the formula—didn’t fall in love with the right one in my 20s, didn’t settle down in suburbia with Mr. Perfect, didn’t have the standard 2.5 children and the fulfilling, rewarding career, while decorating like Martha Stewart and cooking like Julia Child.  Nope.

My journey down the road of romance was full of false starts, insurmountable obstacles, irreconcilable differences, reinventions, and major transformations.  That’s what you get when you have Pluto in Libra in the first house of your natal chart.  I was truly destined for a lot of breaking down and rebuilding, partly because of the guys I attracted and simply because it’s part of my path this time around.

It has taken plenty of soul excavating to move past bitterness, sorrow, and regret, but I can now say “thank you” for all the relationships that never worked.  They were like stair steps that forced me to climb a little higher and work harder to define what I actually wanted and needed in my life.

If I could open up a portal in time and give my younger self some advice, especially when I was struggling to resolve the past, I would say this:

  • Things always change.  Nothing—whether you view it as good or bad—ever lasts that long. When your perception shifts, so do your circumstances.
  • Healing can’t be rushed, so don’t get back into the fight if you’re still wearing bandages from the last round.  Only you know for sure when the healing process is complete.
  • Don’t overdose on self-help books and workshops.  They all say the same thing.  Find one method that works for you, and give it ample time and attention.
  • Be wary of those who try to “fix” you, but be open to those who love you, warts and all.
  • Say “yes” to new experiences.  Go rock climbing, go sailing, go make some pottery.  Go to whatever gets you out of the house and into the juiciness of life again.
  • Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would treat a bird with a broken wing.  You’ll fly again with proper care and attention, so nourish both body and soul.
  • Don’t be so hard on the exes, even if they were crazy, selfish, and terribly misguided at the time.  They are also human, and so are you.  Remember, you picked them, and they picked you for a reason.  It’s better to ask, “What have I learned, and what will I do differently from here on out?”

On a final note, there is a point in the whole process of moving on when you realize all you are missing by staying stuck in the muck of the past.  It hurts worse to stay immobile than to move, so you take a step, then one more, and then another.  It gets easier—the walking, the visioning, the trusting, the cracking open…and then you find you are not just walking but positively running at the speed of life.

Blessed Be

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6 thoughts on “How to Let Go of the Past”

  1. I have similar trouble with my past where Christianity is concerned. I’ve tried to let the past go, but I’ve never been able to. Maybe after reading this I can punch on through that roadblock and drive on through.

    1. I think many people struggle with their faith, especially if it left them feeling guilty or unworthy. Having been raised in a rather strict Baptist household, I was forced to attend church and listen to a lot of negative ideas. In a strange sort of way, it led me to the path I now follow. The hypocrisy and judgmental views of the church eventually caused me to look for something better, and for me, that happened to be Wicca. I also realize that my parents were doing the best they could with their level of education and their own beliefs and values, so I no longer blame them for dragging me to church. It still gave me a foundation and a reason to ask questions and dig deeper.

      1. Likewise, though I’m horrible about expressing it. I personally find the path of the Norse gods to be improving my actions and outlook on life, but my parents are always disappointed with my choice of faith, and they express it often, asking me “what I find so great about it” in a tone that’s pretty condemning.

        It’s hard to keep my levity in the face of that sort of answer. I ask if it’s enough that we simply both agree that Jesus was a great man with greater lessons about morality and values. I don’t need my teachers to be divine to be a good teacher; I just need them to know what they teach, and to practice it themselves. Everything else is secondary.

        My parents are good people doing the best they can with what they have, but I was left wanting more, and I’m trying to be polite about the fact that I simply don’t want what they’re selling. I have something just as good.

  2. So much insight! I fwd to my daughter who is recovering from divorce. See ya later!

      Pat Andres author of :   MAGGIE: A SAVANNAH DOG                  Roseanna the Savannah Squirrel                  LOVE FROM the ASHES                  It’s Hard to Be Crystal: Life in the Tranny Lane  http://pattyflea2003@yahoo.comVisit my website: http://patriciaandres.com

  3. Thank you Jen – just what I needed at just the right time.
    But it’s going to my work email where I was laid off a week ago (another ending that I am dealing with), and I don’t know how to change it.

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