Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Past isn't Present

(This message, ironically, brought to by 90s images)

We have an weird relationship with the past. The past can be this place where everything seems perfect. Childhood was sweet and weightless, we think. Nothing but bubbles, overalls, and BFF necklaces.
Even the past far beyond our own is constantly romanticized. 
How many times have you thought you were born in the wrong decade or century?
My hair would be perfect for the 80s!
Times were so much simpler 50 years ago!
If only our world was a bit more like Jane Austen’s!
90’s grunge is so me, it's ridiculous!
We get this idea of a great, beautiful and (somehow) amazingly simplified past. This image comes from our movies, our music, and (sometimes) older generations themselves wishing they could go back. There’s this desire to go back and soak it all back in. 
Nothings better than being in your early 20s. Than your teens. Than being a kid.

On the other hand there’s another past.

A past that we’re quick to use as a waste basket to throw mistakes in. 
As the popular quote goes: “Don’t judge me by my past, I don’t live there anymore.” 
This kind of past is to be pushed and never looked back on.

It’s like there are two types of past. 
The one we’re okay will reveling in and wish we could call present again. 
The other we accept as “bad” and must reject and separate ourselves from. 
The thing is they’re BOTH past. They’re done and over with. 
Neither of them can un-happen or happen again.

I’m not saying it’s not good to have memories. Have memories! All of them! 
Have good memories, have bad memories. 

Remember these moments just as well as these.

But why make the past up to be this creature that stalks us everywhere we go? 
Why try and make memories time machines or wishing wells?

An even weirder relationship developed between me and the past after I started developing depression. I couldn’t tell who I was anymore. I had always been told I was such a happy person. In fact, that was one of the reasons I denied that I might have depression for so long. That reputation of being hippie and happy. I couldn’t have depression and anxiety! That would, like, ruin the chill vibe I was used to giving off. Finally, when I did admit to being depressed, I still held on to that version of me. I believed that was the only real me. This depressed, anxious me was a phase to get over. I viewed my mental illness more like amnesia. I forgot how to be me, and I just needed to learn again!
I didn’t really recognize that this was how I felt until I happened upon this random text post on Tumblr. I’m not sure who the words originally belonged to, but it said:
“Do me a favor okay?
Stop trying to go back to who you were before. Before you were raped, before you got sick, before an eating disorder took over your life. stop trying to be who you were five, ten, twenty years ago. Before the mental illness took over, before he died, back before your parents split, or you lost your best friend.
You are NOT the same person as before. You never will be again. Give up the idolization of “before” and be who you are now. Be the you AFTER.”

My brain seemed convinced I still was that person I was and that the me now was a past to overcome. I was living life reversed. I tried answering therapy questions as if I was Miranda Circa 2009. It made counseling confusing. “Do you consider yourself a happy person on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being strongly agree.” I liked to pretend like my current feelings were this hill I was bound to find the other side of at any moment. No need to mention them. I would be myself again.
But I am myself. I was Miranda then, and I am Miranda now. I might have more problems. I might have a harder time finding motivation to get up in the morning or take showers or feed myself. I used to think this made me an inadequate human being.
But I’m still a very human me. High-school-freshman-Miranda might have been better off, but she wasn’t better. I was one soul then, and I am one soul now. My value hasn’t decreased.
I have to make one correction to the above actually. I said I “used” to think I was an inadequate human being and a bunch of other past participles. Truth is there are days and moments I still think those things. I constantly have to remind myself of the truth.
So, while I don’t have to “learn how to be myself again”, I do have to learn how to deal with these new trials. I have to learn how I, Miranda, want to work with my depression and anxiety. And through time that might change. I might find better methods or better medication. I might, maybe, even wake up one day and not have depression. I will, however, always be this soul and body. A completely human and present Miranda.
I often have no idea what I’m doing but this Miranda is gonna live the life she’s got.