VII. We are shaped by the past more profoundly than we think.
I often find myself saying to people: “These are the actual details of your life. They are yours. Here they are. You must make some relationship to them since they’re yours.”
This is, of course, from the position of an adult reflecting back on those experiences. You were different at the time that you were experiencing them, even if they’re relatively recent. All those interactions with people and the things that you witnessed and the things that happened to you as a child were just the water that you were swimming in. You had very little perspective on them. It was just how things were.
These are the things that shaped you.
I have two kids. They are ten and eight right now, in 2018. I am watching them grow. What I notice is how much they just roll through their lives. Arguments with me seem to pass right on by. Getting into punching scraps with each other is a normal occurrence. Calling each other awful names to bolster their own developing egos is not unusual.
I realize that I went through my childhood like this too - not knowing that the basic relationships in my life could be any other way, but being deeply affected by them. These relationships and interactions shaped my relationship to myself and the choices that I make, but I had no idea that this was so at the time.
A client told me how they had just returned to their hometown for the death process of their dad. One of the most intense things for them was seeing that the library building on the main street was exactly the same as it had been when they were a child. This had been their place of refuge since their home was not safe because of an alcoholic father. There was huge emotion rising in this person as they stood there with the past crashing in waves into the person that they had become in the 20 years since they had left this place. It wasn’t a surprise to them that they were so affected by this, but it was an intense experience to be put very physically back in a place of such significance.
We are shaped by our childhoods. We are shaped by our schooling. We are shaped by beauty and joy and pain and bullying and the car accident when we were five.