And this is what I believe about the past:
It (is one of the very few things in the world that) belongs, solely, wholly, and ultimately, to yourself.
How you remember it, whom you remember from it, what you let or make yourself forget. How you choose to tell it, what you extract to feel from it, the things you will never again repeat- these are all yours.
So, go ahead. Hold on to too much of him, forget about everything that year. Exaggerate how it felt, let go of all the hurt. Hold a grudge. Idealize someone. Distort their reactions. Preserve an exact quote.
Some things are yours, and only yours, to keep as you wish. You can’t change what happened before, but you can dictate its role in the present. That’s the beauty of owning your past. Not ignoring, not denying it.
Acknowledging and embracing it, in a way you want to. Because it’s yours.
But the things are yours, you can share. So the more ownership you feel of the past, in a way you’re comfortable with, you can choose to give it back to others after it’s been through some reflection and repackaging. This is the cycle of learning. The nature of give and take. The upward spiral of empathy and compassion. What encourages growth and nurtures curiosity. What cements friendships and instills respect.
You don’t have to “keep your past in the past.” You don’t have to “forget it and move on.” You can do whatever you want with it. I, personally, have always been intrigued by transformations- by finding unlikely beauty and usefulness in the most broken and seemingly hopeless things. I like to recycle. I like to think that all things have a purpose, and the best person to figure out what that is, is the owner of the object.
So I stroll down Memory Lane quite often. Dwell much on those from my past. But I don’t consider myself stuck, or even nostalgic. I consider myself that much more eager to have an even brighter future, drawing from all the resources (memories/ experiences) that I have. That I own. That are mine, and only mine. And sometimes, it feels as if the past is the only thing I can adamantly call my own. And even then, I want to share it.