Grieving Time

Hourglass 2
Sometimes starting a new life can bring up grief and regret for the old life. While I am happy to have new experiences without the pain and anxiety of the past, it makes me wish there had been more of it.

Time is such a tricky aspect of the human experience. We can’t control it. We can’t make more of it. We can’t get back what we think we have wasted. As the song says, it is like an hourglass glued to the table. And while we can figure out how to control so many aspects of our lives (which is not always a good thing), we can’t control time. It will keep on going, with or without us.

And 42 years is a long time. It is more than 22 million minutes. It is more than half the lifespan for Americans. And for me, it is the longest amount of time I have ever known.

In my 42 years, I have received 3 different degrees from two colleges. I have lived in 10 houses and 3 countries. I have visited most European countries. I have been married twice and earned income ranging from nothing to 6 figures. I have managed teams of forty people and accomplished some massive projects that may have seemed impossible to some. I have owned enough rental property to call myself a millionaire (on paper) and I have been bankrupt (not my proudest moment). And most importantly, I have managed to raise two small hearts to the ripe old age of 7.

Most would say I have filled my days well. I have succeeded. I have failed even more. And recently, I have even loved. Children will do that to the most cynical adults.

But there’s a problem. I have not really lived these 42 years. They seemed to belong to someone else. I seemed to belong to someone else. My life has never been my life. I was never free. I always seemed to be looking over my shoulder. I was not able to fully let go of the enmeshment with the useless adults who were a part of my childhood.

While I am proud of my recovery work, I do regret that my first meeting with my current therapist happened at age 34. I regret that my first recovered memory did not become clear to my conscious brain until I was 37. I regret the forgetting. I regret the waiting. I regret the years of running from my past.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that forgetting saved my life. But forgetting also consumed a large portion of my early adult years. So while I do my best to stay positive about all I have accomplished, I sometimes have to face the fact that I didn’t do it sooner. I tried the “easy way” first. I tried to run from it. I tried to live with the past filling my unconscious with irrational belief systems, somehow expecting it to leave me alone. I would love to have that time back. I would have loved to live those early years with freedom, but I know that wishing for that is almost as futile as wishing for an apology from my abusers.

I know I can start over. I know that there is no better time than the present to do that. Of course, my memory recovery has a schedule of its own, which makes my inner control-freak very unhappy. And while my inner freedom does not entirely rely on memory recovery, it does rely on it. All my parts have to be free for me to be free. This I have learned.

And so I work to be free, truly free. And I try not to regret the life I have not known because nothing can come of that. But there is time lost. And there is grief about that time.

And yet I know I can be free for the next 42 years.

I can start now.

And this time can be mine.

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9 thoughts on “Grieving Time

  1. I really relate to grieving time lost, Elisabeth. We know it’s a waste of our time and energy, it only wastes MORE of our precious time/years, yet grief is like that–hard to let go of. On a positive note for you, be glad you didn’t wait 60 years like me before moving forward! But it’s exciting to know that if we have a week left to live, we’ll know that we spoke our truth, people heard and it made a difference in at least one person’s life. Thanks friend, for a great post.💛

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  2. Oh wow! Can I ever relate to this!!!! I’m 40 and feel the same way about wishing I had met my current therapist sooner than 3 years ago and about having my first recovered memory about 1 1/2 years ago. The healing process is slow but I have decided that must be the pace we need to move at in order to still function.

    I had one glimpse of a memory that confirmed i’m not crazy nor did i imagine it and I’ve witnessed a few ‘parts’ take over briefly so obviously something horrific occurred for me to split. I so wish I could have faced this sooner so i could be living my life more fully but I also believe I really wasn’t ready and it’s very likely would not be here today if I had started sooner as I may have tried to take my life. And i do believe that I needed to know God first in order to begin processing this abuse to have that comfort and safety to help me through. So I know it all happened the way it was supposed to but i do still sometimes wonder. In any case I am so glad to have found your blog today!

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    • I am so glad you found my blog too. It does sound like we have similar paths. I agree that there is definitely a higher form ensuring the timing is right for us and that the pace is right for us. I am looking forward to talking with you more.

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  3. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your brave post. I agree I would have done something drastic had I remembered sooner, just now in a deep process shifting hard stuff and realizing my memories so far are the tip of the iceberg. Unlike me you succeeded in achieving remarkable things… I understand though how you feel like you haven’t really lived. Whatever has been going on in our lives, that feeling is there. I have to say, your strength is awe-inspiring.
    We all I guess, have our own way and time of healing…yes many wasted years and that is hard.
    I’m thankful you tell it like it is. I can’t afford a therapist but I have connected to a spirit guide who has started appearing recently when I do relaxation exercises (and is free!). I am able to communicate with him and find guidance and support and also get this from your forum and from blogs. I think it’s so healthy to grieve for our pasts, and it can only come at a certain stage…I hope to be able to write about it when I get there too. It helps, thanks.

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    • The hard thing about memory repression is that we don’t know what we don’t know yet. I hate that. My inner control freak struggles so much with that (as I mentioned in the post). Sometimes I wonder how much I don’t know yet. And sometimes I try not to. I too get some guidance from spirit. It can be so helpful.

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  4. I can sympathize with you on this. I have said the same of my recovery work. My therapist told me that I sought help when I was ready to do the work and not before. I’m still more than a little pissed off that I spent my first 33 years in the fog, like you, not really living. Onward, now, and hopefully upward as well. Love your blog!

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