Gross. I just found a rotten nectarine in my kid’s backpack. It did not smell good.
I didn’t put it there. I did not want to clean it up.
The anticipation was awful.
As soon as I could smell it and knew there was a “problem,” I started to dread it. Was the mess going to be huge? How bad did it really smell? Was I going to be able to get all the rotten nectarine residue out of the backpack?
I’m not dramatic, but I made it into a way bigger deal than it needed to be.
You’ve got something rotten in your past and you just want to forget about it.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t work. As much as you try to forget about it, certain aspects of your life are likely shaped around it.
In his book The Untethered Soul, author Micky Singer discusses the analogy of getting a thorn in your side. And instead of doing the painful, but relatively quick work of removing the thorn, other measures are taken to avoid dealing with it. So a shield is created to keep the thorn from being touched, but then the shield is too heavy to hold, so another support is needed to hold up the shield and so on and so forth.
And pretty soon, the activities of daily life are altered so drastically, all because you’re trying to avoid the pain of taking out the thorn…that pain shows up in a whole bunch of other places. Your back hurts from carrying around a bunch of extra weight. You feel judged because you look ridiculous with all your protective gear. On and on.
If you want to move on from your dark shit, you have to face it and clean it up.
In order to fully move on from past experiences that were hurtful, harmful, or where you were less than who you know yourself to truly be, you have to look them in the eye. That is where change comes from – not from adopting a positive attitude or only focusing on the good things.
Many of the women I’ve been speaking with recently have things in their pasts. Things that were so long ago, it hardly feels worth bothering to go back and look at again. They want to look towards the future, and not dwell on those negative feelings from way back when.
And, then. Then we look at all the current day issues that are frustrating the hell out of them. The things they want to change, but don’t understand why they are even present in their lives. Turns out, the things they are doing currently are the shields and whatever other contraptions they’ve built to protect their thorn.
Relief is in the removal.
So, finally, I took a deep breath and reached in. I grabbed the oozing, way-too-soft, rotting, stinky fruit, so that I could dispose of it, clean the backpack, and get on with my life.
Clearly, rotten nectarines aren’t the same as shame or trauma, but the parallels of trying to compartmentalize something that impacts our lives are the same. If I hadn’t addressed it, pretty soon, rotten nectarine smell would have pervaded most parts of my life. And what, I start using air freshener, or stop using the room where the backpack is located, or some other crazy measure? Rotting nectarine can create a prison, if I let it.
What’s the thing you’ve been holding on to most of your life that will set you free once you face it? Are you ready to look at it?