Holding Shadows: Forgiveness and Acceptance of the Past

meI’m pleased to offer this piece by guest writer, James Day Leavitt. (photo credit: Siobhán Butler)

I imagine my past as a long hallway, with doors along each side of the corridor. Behind some doors are my difficult experiences. Things I don’t want to see anymore.  Regrets, mistakes, animosities, hostilities, hurts and lost loves.
I don’t want to replay these things. They are uncomfortable to see. I am embarrassed and would like to start fresh, new, and unencumbered by the past. That’s why re-birth, and absolution of ones sins is so popular a concept. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy (memory energy) going back and checking the doors to make sure they are secure, locked, or at least mostly closed. I get scared they may come out and poison what I have made or are about to make my life into. Like a phobia, I can never be fully sure that all the doors are closed all the time. And in this frantic double and triple checking, it is impossible to be at ease or at one with my present experiences.

Once I begin to open these doors, one by one, and allow my forsaken, my undesirable, my forbidden pasts, or selves to flow freely, I begin the process of forgiving myself. I may even have to forgive myself for things I didn’t do, since the warped version of my responsibilities lie within my own version of blame. And sometimes that blame is wrongly placed on myself. My blame becomes regret and regret brings me back to the doors, frantically keeping them shut to prevent leakage, the slipping out of the true raw reality of past. I start to open the door to accept that these things were real in my past. That I somehow got through that time. I allow them their own space, in the time of my past. Once I can do this, I am surprised to see that not having to check those doors has freed me up to live my life again. I am shocked that those things, from my past, don’t need to rush into my current existence. They just need to occupy their own space to remind me of what I have endured. They just want to be acknowledged as having happened. On good days, they exist in my personal history, or make-up, but no longer have to infiltrate my thoughts and dreams and occupy  so much of the space I need within myself  to be present  in the moments of my life that click by, within my being, in real time.

One by one,
we live.

Second by second,
a life.

Granted within

Living and breathing
own time.

James Day Leavitt is a writer, musician and occasional painter. He was born and raised in Maine. He spent most of his 20’s in Oakland, California. He returned to Maine in 1999 and currently resides there with his wife, Katie, and two daughters, Audrey and Ida. Visit http://jamesdayleavitt.com/ for more info.


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