Being Told to Leave the Past in the Past



being told to leave the past in the past
Photo by Journi Roe Photography

“I will leave the past alone when it leaves me alone” Commenter on Emerging from Broken

I heard so many things against speaking about the past.  Questions which are actually statements and judgements more than they are actual questions such as “why do you want to talk about your problems in public” or “why do you want to air your dirty laundry in front of the whole world?” These judgements always concluded with some version of “you are only making yourself look like a fool.” Statements like that carried with them the all too familiar indication that the speakers (the judges) were concerned for ME; that they truly cared about what was “best for me”.

When I faced the cold hard truth, I began to comprehend the actuality reality; I realized that their concern was never for me. I didn’t need to make myself look like a fool, they did that for me all of my life. I think of the times they delighted in finding ways to embarrass me or humiliate me in front of others. In fact I think that some of their motives were based on discrediting me in case I ever revealed the truth.  They were not concerned about MY dirty laundry. They were only concerned about what I was exposing about THEM. They didn’t want me to expose THEIR dirty laundry.  And I think this would be a good time to add that if they didn’t KNOW what they were doing was wrong, if they didn’t “know any better” then WHY did they know that they needed to keep me quiet about it?

The biggest reason that people persuaded me not to talk about child abuse and dysfunctional family stuff was either because THEY didn’t want to be exposed or because they knew that if they sided with me or even if they validated me, then they would have to face their own dysfunctional family stuff. They were not trying to help me live a better life in freedom and wholeness with their “just let it go” directives. They were concerned with covering their own butts and staying in denial by not facing the truth and so they could keep getting away with all the stuff that everyone knows deep down is wrong.

The legal definitions of child abuse and neglect were a huge eye opener for me. But an even bigger eye opener was when I realized the lengths that so many people went to, to make sure I kept quiet.  Like I said, if they did not know their behaviour was wrong, they would not have spent so much energy making sure it didn’t come out in the open. 

I wish I had found a website or like this when I was searching for answers all those years. Nobody was talking about holding family accountable for abuse or about exposing abusers… everyone seemed to be talking about forgiveness or letting go of the past. “Live for today” and “acceptance is the answer” but nobody wanted to talk about WHAT we were supposed to accept! Were they really telling me to accept that people messed with my head, discounted and devalued me, took advantage of me, taught me that something was “wrong with me”, abused, mistreated and objectified me, and telling me that I should just “get over it”? In that dysfunctional recovery system, everyone endorsed “keeping the silence” and no one wanted to talk about spending some time actually validating the dysfunction first. I was never able to put the past behind me until I actually validated the damage that was done. There are even therapists out there that will refuse to work with you if you want to talk about the past!

I spent over 25 years of my adult life trying to let go and let God and get over it, accept it, forgive and feel sorry for the sick people in my past and I ended up having increasingly difficult chronic depressions.  I spent only 2 years facing and validate it and all the results that I ever could have hoped for were achieved. So what is so wrong with my way? At least I am living proof that it worked!

I speak and I write EFB because it is my story and MINE to tell. I celebrate the permission I give myself to tell my story after years of being silenced.  It is validating for me and for others to hear the benefits of living in truth. Finding, facing and embracing the truth is what set me free from oppression, depression and the low self esteem that hindered me all of my life before I faced the lies so I could embrace this truth.

I will speak my truth. I will tell my story. Look at my life today! I am free. I am living a full and happy life bursting with wholeness and freedom in the sunlight of the truth and no longer in the shadow of the lie.  The fact that they are not happy for me is actually more proof of the dysfunctional system they live in. Like crabs in a bucket, clambering over each other to get out but only pulling each other back down because really, no one wants another little crab to escape into freedom if the darkness of the bucket is the fate of the rest. Well too bad for them. I finally stood up to them and stood up for me. I finally chose ME over them. I escaped. I don’t live in that darkness anymore and it feels GREAT to have the sun on my face!

Note: speaking up for myself and drawing boundaries does not always mean that I have to confront controlling and manipulative people; in many cases they walked away from the relationship as soon as they sensed that I had caught on to the disrespect and devaluing treatment. They skulked away like guilty dogs, which tells a tale now doesn’t it?  

Please share your thoughts about being told to leave the past in the past.

Another snapshot of truth;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


Legal definitions of Child Neglect and Child Abuse and also see US department of Health

Related Posts: Standing up to Damaging Advice and Unhelpful Trauma Directives

Forgive the Abusers ~ A bit of a Rant

Manipulative and Controlling People and some abuse tactics

85 response to "Being Told to Leave the Past in the Past"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 17th December

    Yes to ALL of this! I wish I could leave the past behind. I’ve TRIED. But I can’t because no one has ever validated what happened or acknowledged my pain.

    What Lora in post #75 said rings true for me, too: “I feel like pieces of my soul have been taken from me all my life and I am left with this empty shell of a person to rebuild”.
    She articulated her own feelings/experiences so well that it was like, WOW…somebody else really understands what it’s like to feel this way!

    I had a therapist who refused to talk about my past and it was so hurtful. Because how can I move on and heal if I can’t share the root of my problems?
    I can’t magically “let go” of YEARS of unresolved pain. It takes time and work and trying to unlearn false belief systems about my worth as a person.
    I find myself having to smile, to hide my sadness and anger in the presence of my stepfather when I visit my mother at her new house, when what I really want to do is to let my real feelings out.

    To tell them that I’ve tried to forgive but I will NEVER forget the emotional/verbal/mental abuse.
    That I feel abandoned and betrayed by my mom, even at 34. That my life has been stolen from me because I was subjected to fear and violence during what should have been the happiest years of my life.
    That I have the right to be angry about my mother choosing her rotten husband over me. That I have the right to be hurt that my family gives mixed messages, being cruel to me for so many years, now all of a sudden they act like they care.

    I’ve never been allowed to talk honestly with my mother about what it’s like to now be in my thirties and childless (not by choice)…partly because she forced me to have a late-term abortion in my early twenties, because SHE was embarrassed that I wasn’t married to my boyfriend at the time. She was afraid of what people would say about HER. Looking back, maybe it was for the better because he turned out to be abusive also…but she didn’t give me a choice in the matter.
    I’ve never been given a say in ANYTHING that concerns my life.

    No, I won’t “leave the past in the past”. Not as long as it continues to affect my life NOW, and it still does.

  2. By: marquis (female) Posted: 3rd February

    “The fact that they are not happy for me is actually more proof of the dysfunctional system they live in…”

    Love this and totally agree! I always tell people what happiness do the birth people have? If happiness is the root of their misery, then that is some serious, serious problems yet nobody in the mental health field seems to find that to be a problem.

  3. By: Steph Posted: 2nd February

    Thank you for this! I always felt so bad about bringing things up. I feel as though I’m just meant to get over all the things that have happened with my family – and that’s what I’ve always been told. That it’s in the past, and that I’m dwelling on things, and that it’s actually bad for me to hold onto it all. Thank you for the validation that facing it is really the answer rather than trying to bury it all away and pretend like it never happened – as I’ve been told to do all these years.

  4. By: Steve Posted: 9th October

    I really love the paragraph you wrote saying

    “The fact that they are not happy for me is actually more proof of the dysfunctional system they live in…”

    I’m so glad to be out of my family crab bucket, and it is so helpful to read that whole paragraph.

    I’ve also experienced that I don’t necessarily have to confront abusers in business now, though it really upsets me when they turn up.

    But I’ve also found that abusers either try in vain to hurl insults and threats at me or simply go silent, like my family, when they DO catch on, that I have figured out that they are manipulators or abusers and that I won’t “play their game”.

  5. By: marquis (female) Posted: 27th January

    Leave it in the past huh? It would be nice if people would stop asking personal questions to something you have no wish to speak about anymore! My soon to be ex therapist has told me months ago ‘by doing that, you are not letting people get close to you and know the real you.’ I told her who wants to hear a “dark past filled with no love?” People cling onto their white picket fence, artificial lives/happiness and those are the stories they wanna hear – believe me, experienced it myself!

    I got told the same bs ‘why do you wanna air your laundry out?’ I have told people ‘what do I have to hide? I am not gonna be the one who will lose everything.’ They got quiet when I said that!! My parents would scold me in a nasty way (and my sister) about “airing our laundry out there” and asked them ‘what do you have to hide? I won’t lose everything, but you two will lose a whole lot!” Ahh, the silence from my parents!

    With these abusers, they don’t want their dirty, shall I say filthy laundry out because they don’t want the public to know the real them. Why not? If they have nothing to hide, then show everybody who you really are! I was told to leave it in the past, but when something gets mentioned about family, that’s kinda hard to leave it in the past.

    My soon to be ex therapist told me ‘your abuse history makes up one part of you not everything.’ Does anybody agree with that? I don’t recall anybody asking to have a negative history sometime in their lives and be “grateful for it.” I’d prefer if people ask me something about me in the present not from the past!

  6. By: Leslie Posted: 21st January

    I am so tired of being told to leave the past in the past. If one more person says be positive, think positive, talk positive or be quiet I will scream!

  7. By: DXS Posted: 7th June

    I keep getting told, “You live in the past.” Nope, I have unresolved issues which Mom refuses to address. That’s not the same. I get told, “get over it, it happened in the past.”

    Ok, here is the real story. You made an incorrect choice that affected me in a way that you couldn’t predict. You don’t want to own up to making that mistake so I HAVE TO SUFFER.

    And you wonder why I don’t want to be around my family,

  8. By: Lora Posted: 2nd May

    Hi Darlene! This one triggers a lot of emotion for me and once again I feel it’s the Universe’s way of validating me on so many levels. I can’t believe how much anger I have been feeling on and off for the past couple of weeks. I think this is the biggest piece that I have been missing for myself. The humiliation, blame, setups etc that my parents put me through and then I took all those twisted beliefs of who I was and lived my life the same way. I kept choosing partners that would play out my family dynamics over and over again. No matter how much help I received, books I read, workshops I attended I couldn’t seem to get to that place where it was about “me” and how it all affected me. Why was it so difficult for people to see that I was in pain and I needed some attention too. To have to cover up my pain all my life just so others could feel comfortable in their little bubbles makes me sick to my core. My whole life has been about being silent and taking all the crap that my parents laid out. They could use how they provided a good home, food and shelter as their way to control me into believing how good I really had it while I suffered inside. This was another wonderful skill I learned, to hide the truth at any cost to protect those who were causing me so much turmoil.

    All I keep hearing in my head over and over is how they did their best for what they knew etc. This just seems to keep me in my place of moving forward because once again it’s like my pain didn’t or doesn’t matter. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find counselors that will really go deep and address the real issues. You are one of the first resources I have found that actually address the real pain. I admire you so much especially because you are a parent. I don’t have children because that’s a choice I made and sometimes I feel like people who are parents are some kind of secret club that protect each other. I reached out to family members and some of the counselors I saw had children of their own and they seem to share the same belief that parents were gods who did their best and children need to respect this no matter how the parents treated them. You are so right and I have learned this now that there are so many people that have been abused who have not dealt with their own issues that they cover it all up so once again how can they possibly see the truth in someone else if they can’t face their own truth.

    I feel like pieces of my soul have been taken from me all my life and I am left with this empty shell of a person to rebuild. I’m doing my best with the resources I have and I am very grateful for that part. I’m just in the need of venting and honoring myself because I realize that no one can do that for me except for me. I feel a disappointment right to the core of being and whether it is blame, anger, resentment I don’t know anymore because I go numb after awhile because it feels so intense. I’m trying to understand why a parent would bring a child into such a nightmare. My parents didn’t want the first child and then they end up having me as well. This caused resentment for my sister against me because she felt my mom loved me more than her. Since I am the baby of the family I feel like was some kind of trash can for everyone to dump on. With everything I am learning right now I feel like I’m just supposed to get past all of this like it’s no big deal, leave the past in the past and carry on. When will people understand how much damage is caused by poor parenting. I don’t care how judgmental I sound right now, I am so pissed off for being born into a world of hurt that I am responsible for healing because my parents don’t have the balls to step up an own their part. We could have gone for counseling but they chose to hold on to their false pride because they didn’t want to face that they were the problem not my sister and I. We were children for gods sake and we had needs that needed tending too and if that’s what made us a problem well F U!!!! I feel like stray animal that was just disguarded once I reached 18. They fulfilled their parental contract for having the burden of taking care of us, we were lucky that they did what they did for us.

    I could go on and on but I’m going to stop here. I feel so angry sometimes that I actually understand why people get so violent and need to act out their pain. What is really going on inside is a cry for help that my pain matters and I want someone…anyone to notice me and validate that I am a human being and I deserve to receive unconditional love just like everyone else. I didn’t choose to be treated this way but I am left to deal with the damage and no one gives a shit. I am not a danger to myself or anyone else, I just feel the need to validate my anger and honor my healing process and I am very grateful to have the resource to do it in. Thank you so much Darlene for offering this safe plat form to do it in.

  9. By: Joetta Colquette Posted: 1st May

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH for telling your story! When I read your story, your thoughts, I identify because so much of your story is MY story. I am 54 years old, just found out two years ago about my Dad, whom I and my sisters always thought growing up, was the model Christian, because that is all that we saw or knew. Instead he was a sex addict, having multiple affairs. We grew up being abused physically, mentally and verbally by our mother, and thought that at least there was one parent who loved God and loved us. Needless to say, that even at 52, when I found out, I felt as if my whole world had crashed, and that everything I had believed to true had been and is a lie. I understand perfectly about others saying to “Let it go~” and to move on. I am doing masters work in counseling, and so thankful that I am, for not only is it preparing me to help others, but to help myself. I am thankful for the Lord being with me every step of the way, and for those that he uses to help me in this healing journey. THANK YOU for being forthright and saying succinctly what we all need to hear to truly heal.
    May the Lord continue His Work in you and in all of us~

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st May

      Hi Joetta
      Welcome to EFB; Thanks for sharing and Thank you for your compliments!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Tracy

  10. By: Tracy Posted: 30th April

    …And I think this would be a good time to add that if they didn’t KNOW what they were doing was wrong, if they didn’t “know any better” then WHY did they know that they needed to keep me quiet about it?…

    WOW, I have come up against this since I took a stand against my parents abuse. Ive heard so many excuses, they didn’t know better, he had this or that happen, wouldn’t you if you were married to her, he doesn’t do it now, ect, ect, ect. NO ONE has ever said “he did it, it was wrong, end of story.” Im so tired of hearing that I need to “get over it” and “move on” and “not live in the past” blah, blah blah. Like you said, that is just their way of not acknowldging the abuse.

    As far as “getting over it” and “moving on”. I have done just that. Just not in the forget and continue to let it happen way that my abusers and their supporters (sisters)wanted. I am free, one thing my parents hoped I’d never be. =)

    Thanks Darlene! Keep up the great work!

  11. By: AB Posted: 6th January

    I’m sure the preacher knew nothing about our personal conflict. But, for some reason he was preaching for the entire family to “Let it go”. I found it highly inappropriate and off-putting for him to preach those words to the entire family. We didn’t come there for over generalised and indirect family counseling. However, there is a lot of dysfunction on my fathers side of the family and its a problem.

  12. By: AB Posted: 6th January

    And my cousin and I didn’t say a word to each other at the funeral either! I would have ignored her if she tried to be friendly. I would have told her off right there over her mothers coffin had she dared disrepect me that day. Telling someone off on FB isn’t nearly as satisfying as it is to tell them off to their face. My late aunt’s husband assured me she knows better than to start anything in that setting. Lucky for her!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th January

      Hi AB
      Sorry that this all happened. I totally understand your frustration.
      I’m glad that you shared it.
      Hugs, Darlene

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