Respecting the past


I’m finding that the relationship between the past that I’ve lost and the future I’m just beginning to imagine isn’t an easy one. The two don’t seem to get on. I find that I can get very defensive about the past and have a strong determination that it won’t be misrepresented or distorted in relation to the future, however full of potential it seems to be.

Back in London, visiting familiar and not so familiar places to work in, I’m finding it a challenge, but not an impossible one, to hold onto the sense are all kinds of narratives that I am resistant to, not least the idea that the loss of Mark would somehow be cancelled out should good things flourish in my life now. There is no way I can accept any suggestion that losing Mark and our life together might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, a necessary pain to go through in order to emerge a stronger, more authentic person or whatever other notion springs to mind.

Something extraordinary has happened to me during this past year, not least that I now view myself as pretty remarkable, worthy of respect. Because of that shift I have begun to challenge notions I unknowingly held about myself – for instance I’ve started to think that maybe I do have something to offer, and because of that I can make a difference in the world, not simply be along for the ride.

But I seem to find it necessary to argue against some imagined suggestion that those things somehow make it ‘alright’ that they somehow cancel out the pain and anguish of losing Mark. There are good things that have happened, changes that I’ve seen in myself that energise me and reinforce the belief that I’ve clung on to since the day Mark died that life is worth living. But the idea that it was somehow ‘worth it’ or ‘meant to be’ or any of those other narratives stirs up a fury in me – and a determination that I won’t move forward on those grounds. It’s intriguing, this absolute determination to honour the past and find a way to contain all that I had with Mark and treasure all that I’ve lost while embracing the future and approaching it in a creative, hopeful way. How do we hold the tension between the two?

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