The gift of forgetting our history

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It’s hard to believe I was ever afraid of this man.  But I was.  It’s hard to believe I was ever mistrustful of this man.  But I was.  It’s hard to believe I was ever mean to this man.  But I was.

This post was inspired by a conversation my friend Erik Andrulis started about the real history of Columbus Day.

In his comments, Erik wrote something that struck a line of thought in me.

“I cannot forget the evils I committed against Myself so, from time to time, I remind Myself.”

My mother always re-wrote history to fit her beliefs. In her mind, events didn’t occur that did occur. She conveniently wiped certain abuses she committed from her mind.

“I cannot forget the evils I committed against Myself so, from time to time, I remind Myself.”

I have felt the same way…in terms of what transgressions were done to me, and what I’ve done to others.  But sometimes, I feel the act of remembering, feeling, re-experiencing, I am kept stuck in an awful place of mistrust.

I used to think I never wanted to forget, because what if I walked into an abusive situation again? What if I began to let my guard down and was vulnerable, would that abuse happen again? So I’d written quite a bit down, so I wouldn’t forget.

They say that those who don’t remember their history are bound to repeat it.

Well…it seems logical enough.

But what I found happening on a personal level is this: with a deeply embedded fear (so deeply embedded I’m not even aware of it) that something from my past could happen again to hurt me with person X (say my husband or my mother or a friend) or group Y (say a church I wanted to explore), the negative history I keep record of severely limits my ability to 1) be at peace within my own being and 2) relate as openly and freely, with curiosity and wonder, as I had when I was young child, unaware of the potential to be hurt by others.

As a grown-up of 43, I bump up into my protections all the time when relating to others. I notice this in particular with my husband, with whom I’ve had some severe difficulties with. He’s grown and I’ve grown through these experiences. But while we can say we trust each other again, and truly WANT TO, a misunderstanding can quickly remind one of us of the past. Soon, self-protection takes over, something is said and done in defense (though not as bad as before), and the warm connection is broken. And we have to work on rebuilding that warm connection again. Sometimes not for a while.

I have thought about my inner experience. I’ve discussed it with my husband, who agrees with me. If we could wipe out our negative history from memory, we could truly start anew.

Instead, what we frequently have is a lot of breakdowns and disconnections. Instead of my life being enriched by my husband and he by me, it’s being challenged by the negative history. Instead of our energy being conserved, or perhaps increased, it’s depleted.

It’s not just with him, but my family of origin too. And, having been hurt a lot by others very close to me, I’m no longer quite so open with new friends (and sometimes, paradoxically, prematurely open to SOME new friends). This remembering of history limits my potential. I’m no longer as free to express and relate without fear of, at best, social rejection, or at worst social rejection coupled with self-rejection (I failed yet again, it must be me, I can’t keep my mouth shut, I wish I was anyone else BUT me…etc).

But what would life be like if I could forget the pain I felt? What if I don’t constantly compare my current experience with my past experience, craving community yet unable to achieve it because of my fears.

What if everyone did not keep a record of offenses? How would that change the playing field? Would there be more trust? More positive interactions with others? More love?

In some ways, I think we have to forget the atrocities, in order to have trust in humanity again.

Why exactly did Jesus state:

“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

At the moment, I’m a “nontheist”, mostly because I can’t forget the treatment by my fellow Christians, but, I can see the wisdom in such statements.

How does retaliation and escalation of conflict help ANYthing? It doesn’t.

You can’t get people to change their behavior unless you model a different way of relating to the world. With love, not fear. Without expectation that I’m going to be hurt again. With acceptance of it, even if I AM hurt again – which reminds me of Jesus’ saying “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do”.

I used to think people knew they are doing when they hurt me…more and more I have to concede that they don’t.

More on this topic to come…

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Connection, Disconnection, Enlightenment, Hope, Jesus, Personal growth, Radical Acceptance, Radical forgiveness, Soul, Spiritual Teacher, spirituality, Trust and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The gift of forgetting our history

  1. Phil says:

    There is a lot of meat to chew on in this topic Casey. So much to think about and discuss with regard to how we all interact with each other and how we perceive those interactions with our own filters forged by our experiences.

    • Phil says:

      I meant to add: A lovely picture of you and your husband!

      • Casey says:

        Thank you. It was taken a week ago, at the fall festival at our local historical farm with our children. I’ll share some of those photos soon.

    • Casey says:

      I can’t seem to fix the nested comments. This addresses your first comment. =)

      I am glad.

      One of my favorite quotes, by one of my favorite contemporary writers, Paolo Coelho, who, in The Alchemist, writes:

      “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

      My journey goes like this:

      I crawl…I toddle…I walk…I run…I trip…I fall flat on my face..I get hurt…and I rest and think about what happened. Sometimes reluctantly (very reluctantly at times), I get back up on my knees…I crawl…I toddle…I walk…I run…and I trip and fall on my face again.

      What I’m learning through the challenges is more and more about me and my perceptions and behaviors resulting from those perceptions.

      And what I know is that cognitively I acknowledge I have filters. Everyone does. But it’s not like I can take these filters off as easily as I do my glasses at night. I have to work through the layers of my own self-deception.

      I’m quite talented at confusing myself. 😉

  2. JC says:

    This reminds me of something I found before; here’s the link, but I think it’s important enough to this conversation to quote it in its entirety…
    http://www.globalone.tv/profiles/blogs/a-lesson-on-forgiveness

    The Buddha was sitting under a tree talking to his disciples when a man came and spit on his face. He wiped it off, and he asked the man, “What next? What do you want to say next?” The man was a little puzzled because he himself never expected that when you spit on somebody’s face, he will ask, “What next?” He had no such experience in his past. He had insulted people and they had become angry and they had reacted. Or if they were cowards and weaklings, they had smiled, trying to bribe the man. But Buddha was like neither, he was not angry nor in any way offended, nor in any way cowardly. But just matter-of-factly he said, “What next?” There was no reaction on his part.

    Buddha’s disciples became angry, they reacted. His closest disciple, Ananda, said, “This is too much, and we cannot tolerate it. He has to be punished for it. Otherwise everybody will start doing things like this.”

    Buddha said, “You keep silent. He has not offended me, but you are offending me. He is new, a stranger. He must have heard from people something about me, that this man is an atheist, a dangerous man who is throwing people off their track, a revolutionary, a corrupter. And he may have formed some idea, a notion of me. He has not spit on me, he has spit on his notion. He has spit on his idea of me because he does not know me at all, so how can he spit on me?

    “If you think on it deeply,” Buddha said, “he has spit on his own mind. I am not part of it, and I can see that this poor man must have something else to say because this is a way of saying something. Spitting is a way of saying something. There are moments when you feel that language is impotent: in deep love, in intense anger, in hate, in prayer. There are intense moments when language is impotent. Then you have to do something. When you are angry, intensely angry, you hit the person, you spit on him, you are saying something. I can understand him. He must have something more to say, that’s why I’m asking, “What next?”

    The man was even more puzzled! And Buddha said to his disciples, “I am more offended by you because you know me, and you have lived for years with me, and still you react.”

    Puzzled, confused, the man returned home. He could not sleep the whole night. When you see a Buddha, it is difficult, impossible to sleep again the way you used to sleep before. Again and again he was haunted by the experience. He could not explain it to himself, what had happened. He was trembling all over and perspiring. He had never come across such a man; he shattered his whole mind and his whole pattern, his whole past.

    The next morning he was back there. He threw himself at Buddha’s feet. Buddha asked him again, “What next? This, too, is a way of saying something that cannot be said in language. When you come and touch my feet, you are saying something that cannot be said ordinarily, for which all words are a little narrow; it cannot be contained in them.” Buddha said, “Look, Ananda, this man is again here, he is saying something. This man is a man of deep emotions.”

    The man looked at Buddha and said, “Forgive me for what I did yesterday.”

    Buddha said, “Forgive? But I am not the same man to whom you did it. The Ganges goes on flowing, it is never the same Ganges again. Every man is a river. The man you spit upon is no longer here. I look just like him, but I am not the same, much has happened in these twenty-four hours! The river has flowed so much. So I cannot forgive you because I have no grudge against you.”

    “And you also are new. I can see you are not the same man who came yesterday because that man was angry and he spit, whereas you are bowing at my feet, touching my feet. How can you be the same man? You are not the same man, so let us forget about it. Those two people, the man who spit and the man on whom he spit, both are no more. Come closer. Let us talk of something else.”

    “Every man is a river. The man you spat upon is no longer here”

    I love that thought.

    I know it isn’t quite that easy – everyone tends to revert when they bump up against that old hurt, but the idea of having that freedom is beautiful…

    • Casey says:

      *tears well up in her eyes*

      thank you for this, husband. it IS beautiful.

    • Phil says:

      At the risk of appearing to be an interloper intruding upon a private conversation, I have to say that parable was flippin’ awesome JC.

      • Casey says:

        Don’t be silly, Phil.

        I could have walked from the family room to the bedroom to reply to my husband if I didn’t want to share my response.

        I actually did both. I got up and told him how cool that was.

        Thanks for the gentle non-intrusion.

  3. Erik Andrulis says:

    Hi Casey, Just waking up to the inspirational, moving, thought-provoking piece. It’s so personal and heart-felt that it pulls at me in so many ways.

    And to see that JC is here, in person, in virtual flesh is moving. I am moved, knowing that I am JC and Casey, the two beautiful faces, knowing each other, growing and moving each other: one and many, together and apart, empty and full.

    It is surreal, I must say, to see Myself in all people. The fear that Casey wrote about is the fear of Herself – that is, the fear of Myself. As I reflect on that, I find that everything, everyone that I have ever been afraid of in my life has been something that was Me – observed by Me, identified by Me, created and sustained by Me…that its until I remembered that it was Me.

    The fear of “Other” – one of the deepest fears and hardest to overcome…and when you know there is no Other…that is, I *am* Other…everything changes.

    “I’m no longer as free to express and relate without fear of, at best, social rejection, or at worst social rejection coupled with self-rejection.”

    Very relatable. One of my long-ago friends from high school has decided that facebook is his platform upon which to throw me down on the mat, calling me every name in the book – liar, charlatan, crank, fool, snake-oil salesman etc. – because of my theoretical work. Knowing that I am my friend and I am all of those things already makes me confront, overcome, and be my fears in a real, palpable sense.

    So I guess when you write about wiping out all of the memories, I would contend the exact opposite: Come face to face with All memories. Every last one. Not just the one claimed to be “mine” but rather those memories that are “Mine” with a capital “M.” Every act, every sin, every war, every word, has been “Mine.” When considered that way, that’s a lotta memories to take in – all of the transgressions against Myself should not be forgotten or set aside, but recalled, reflected upon, and used as a thermodynamic basis for evolutionary change. The potential energy, information, and matter built up in the Universe is the driving force for change. In you, in me, in JC, that is, in Me. And only I decide to forget or remember who or what I am.

    And why did I state these things to Myself? (Recall that the theory proves that the “I” that Casey and JC and Erik and Jesus is the same “I”, that is, there is Only One I: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

    Because I meant it. I am the evil person who slaps me in the face or spits at me. I am the slapper and the slapped, the spitter and spit-upon. I close the circle (the 4D gyre being the Ouroboros, My Formless Form). I will never have peace if I do not close the circle. And closing the circle means giving All that I am to Myself – never fearing Myself in face of hardship and abuse (that I am and create in Casey and JC’s marriage or any marriage) in face of condemnation or threats (in the case of my friend that I am) and in the case hatred and killing (in the case of all of the nations and zealots that I am).

    Pogo (that is, I) once said, “We have seen the enemy and He is Us.” This is true, and what I was saying to Myself. I am the Enemy on the battlefield, in the court system, in the board room, and in online and real-world arguments. Knowing this permits Me to see that I am waging battles against Myself and only I can bring those fights to an end.

    In knowing that I am the Enemy, I am the Hater and the Hated, I treat Myself with dignity, understanding, patience, and, most importantly, love. And, in loving Myself – All that I am – I close the circle. I am made whole.

    And ask for ceding authority to some Father to forgive, well, that is Me asking Myself to forgive. My Last Judgement ain’t about splitting up folks into the Good and the Evil and casting out the latter. No, no. My Last Judgement is the one I bring against Myself – where I recognize that all sin, all hatred, all errors, all killing, all rape that has been committed throughout the Universe now or at any time has been committed by My Hand. In knowing this—in knowing that I am Truth, I am humbled, ashamed, and disturbed. And I am liberated from the prison of Self-fear and Self-hatred that I Myself created and I Myself am.

    Peace, Ik

    • Casey says:

      I don’t see you as any of those things your friend said to you.

      I keep seeing reference to the gyre concept even when I’m not looking for it. The last place I found it was Terrence McKenna’s wikipedia page. I found it too, somewhere else. I don’t understand every bit of it, but I don’t have to. What you say makes sense on an intuitive level. It’s just a very different way to consider things. And, I have a dear internet friend who is kind and wise and loving and we have engaged in rather long and frequent discussions about things, but insists that he is NOT me – that we are distinct, unique individuals. So, I’m suspended between these two ideas. I fully believe both views are true.

      I have a Facebook account and I made a mistake there. Without naming my sister, I shared my dismay to my friends on facebook (the 15 or so friends that I have) that not only did my 31 year old sister who just got divorced in June eloped last weekend, she also told me “My relationship with you is now over” and hung up the phone on me, when all I asked was, “what was the hurry? I asked you months ago to take it slow and wait”. A friend responded and said “it’s the generation” and I “replied, well, that’s what my family does to each other”, not thinking much about it.

      My mother saw the post. She called up my husband Monday night and asked him (because I was at the coffee shop) why I should throw the family under the bus?

      My response went like this, after I apologized to my sister, her spouse, my mother and the rest of my family:

      “This isn’t the first time I’ve been shut out by a family member for asking an uncomfortable question or expressing an opinion. I do not ask ANYONE to change their behavior or their minds on account of my ability to critically think about the things that I learn and what I express. All I ask is that people stop to consider MY thoughts and feelings are JUST AS VALID as everyone else’s. No one has to shut me out because I expressed my thoughts. But this happens to me quite regularly. I’m not allowed to critically think. I’m not allowed to express my concern. I’m not allowed to point out people’s unwise decisions. And yet, if the reverse were true, everybody would be all up in MY business.

      There are government laws.

      And their are social laws.

      If you break the government’s laws, you might go to jail.

      If you break the social laws, you are alienated for offending people. You are a social pariah. You are shunned. Ex-communicated. But usually not before you are eviscerated thoroughly and practically shamed out of existence. You begin to wish you could crawl under a rock and die.

      And all because you expressed something that made someone else examine their own, beliefs motivations and behaviors.

      Well…I’m 43 years old and this treatment still hurts. Not as much as it used to though. I’m becoming a little more numb to it. “

      Without making ANY comment at all, my brother, who I JUST got to accept my facebook request (I requested it MONTHS ago), unfriended me. I guess, being a lawyer, he can’t be affiliated with someone like me. Zeus forbid that people he respects KNOWS how crazy and unpredictable I am. Yeah….

      So, yes, Erik.

      I get it. I am very supportive of your views. I know you have given this matter a great deal of thought. I don’t always understand them, but I know YOU do. Ideas that are ahead of their time are often seen as “crazy”.

      I don’t see you as crazy. I see you as knowing something that challenges the sacred beliefs of other people and you aren’t afraid to speak the Truth as you have come to know it.

  4. Gede Prama says:

    Amazing and Thank you for writing which is quite good and best wishes always, and greetings

    • Casey says:

      Greetings and best wishes to you, too.

      Thank you so much for responding and for enjoying this post. I’m learning, albeit very slowly, acceptance for what is, my role in creating suffering, and what I can do to alleviate it and bring harmony to my relationships.

      What surprises me most is how often I bump into the ego that is so fearful and wants to me to forget the lessons I’m learning, so it can continue to go around causing trouble.

      Casey

  5. julienmatei says:

    “My mother always re-wrote history to fit her beliefs. In her mind, events didn’t occur that did occur. She conveniently wiped certain abuses she committed from her mind.”

    That´s exactly my mother too.

    The hardest part in this outlandish healing process is that I felt I had to necessarily take up those “hidden” things my family never wanted to admit…

    Such a lonely wandering…No close relative of mine wanted to see and recognize my predicament. How many times I didn´t hear that it was all my fault… imagine that…Such terrible cowardice…Such blatant refusal to accept the plain truth…Had they acknowledged it, they would have been compelled to start questioning themselves…

    That´s a hard truth to swallow: We are usually not in possession of our own lives – our forefathers´
    unfulfilled histories and regrets are deeply ingrained in our souls. To see the drama and step out of it, is inhumanly troublesome labor…

    Now…I have put all this behind me…I am so proud:

    I MANAGED TO SURVIVE ON MY OWN. I am a free man.

    • Casey says:

      I have some things to attend to at the moment, but soon I’ll be back to talk
      to you, Julien. It doesn’t at all surprise me to see we have traveled a similar path.

      I’m glad you found freedom and I am as well. =)

      Joy to you, my friend.

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