Ghosts of the past

The past is the past.

One of the challenges many people have to face in their lives is to move on past negative experiences they have had in their life.  I will use me now instead of they, I hope that in this post people may recognise or identify with the things I put onto this page.

I have had some negative experiences in the past some really distant and some not so distant, these have left various impacts on me. Some have seared their way into my mind and have showed this by invoking a set pattern of response when I encounter these things. Some words can do it for me, whatever is one of them I could explain to you how I feel or what I think when the word is said, but why, enough to say that it does, so how does one get past the word whatever? Backtracking a little I think a small explanation of whatever is necessary to illustrate the reaction. The urban dictionary defines whatever as being used in an argument to admit that you are wrong without admitting it so the argument is over. Merriam Webster says anything or everything, no matter what, or can be used to express surprise or disbelief, it can also mean no matter what.  This is not an exhaustive definition of the word, it does go to show that there are a variety of meanings and some of those have positive connotations, some didactic and some decidedly negative in tone.

Whatever for me is associated with a throwaway remark that denotes either a derisive attitude or a dismissive go away, why you may ask? Well the past, in the past that is my experience and it brings an almost conditioned classical Pavlovian response, that of defence, not hackles raised and growling but a shrinking of my soul and a fight or flight response, rapidly followed by a, what did I do, internal referencing, soul-searching, navel gazing, waste of time. Why a waste of time? Well simple really, because most of the time I actually don’t have a reference to put the word into, no locus.  So the reaction that I have is just the ghosts of the past beating their drums inside my head.  Well it’s not like that for me I hear. Well that’s good for you but here it is for me.

This reaction produces nothing worth having the question is how to get past that response so here are a few ideas,

  1. When you say whatever, can you be a bit more precise, I need some clarification.
  2. Did I say something wrong?
  3. Is something the matter?
  4. I need a bit more direction.

You get the general picture, it can be a loaded word but my response is already loaded, I am packing buck shot, finger on the trigger ready to shoot, (ok hyperbole but I am a poet).  The thing is the word most likely comes up in a conversation with someone significant in your life, it certainly does for me.  I could ask the person not to use the word but it is me who has the issue.  There are words that are more than words, derisive, nasty put-downs.  Whatever is unlikely to be one of those and my partner certainly does not use those words towards me, so why am I charged.   As I said it is past ghosts.

Some ghosts have to be exorcised from our lives, the memory is too painful, embarrassing, traumatic even.  I have a good memory, far to good in fact and I have carried a lot of hurts with me over many years.  I am aware of these and reflective enough to know when I am being triggered albeit sometimes not in time to prevent an instant response but enough to know when I need to reflect and move some things along.

My mother’s advice about saying nothing if you have nothing good to say is sage and has been given universally, some people mistake that as a weakness, ah there I have you now, nothing to say I must be right, the temptation is to rise to that but it is again not worth the effort, people like that are generally insecure and have a deep need to be right, I know, I used to be one.  I will leave this here for now bar the disclaimer that I am not perfect and still get caught in this behaviour, but less and less these days, try to think before you engage in a disagreement, try to decide is this worth having conflict over, I learnt as a child that I couldn’t be beaten into submission physically, and any verbal beatings to induce agreement are shallow, hollow victories that are just pale and worthless.

Love well and laugh loud, if you can’t sit on your tongue to stop yourself from talking then just breather through your nose

Paul

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