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Old Yesterday, 07:49 AM
 
Location: Loudon, TN
6,135 posts, read 5,058,507 times
Reputation: 21071

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My sister (may she rest) once asked me how I was able to cope with the bad things that happened in our childhood without harboring the anger and resentment towards our mom that she did. At that time she had just lost her husband to a terminal illness and she was in a very bad place. I thought about it and said that I still remember all the bad things that happened, and the drama and neglect that we suffered. I told her those events are part of the things that shaped our personalities but I don't carry the memories around in my purse with me, and pull them out to stew over day in and day out. I mentally put them in a shoebox, and I store them in the back of the closet, and when I have the time and a good reason, I take them out and really look hard at them from all angles, like analyzing a photo from a crime scene. I try to see all the little things in the background and what the evidence can tell us that's not obvious on first glance. I try to ascertain what motives and circumstances led to this result, and what is of value that I can take from this. And then I put them back in the box, close the closet, and get on with my life. I guess it's what people call compartmentalization.

Once people are retired they suddenly have more time to pull out the shoebox I suppose. Back when working, we had to get on with our work lives, and taking care of the house and yard, and children, and all the other activities we commit ourselves to, and compartmentalizing was the way to get it all done. But often in retirement we have the time, and with the ticking of the clock, we want to put it all in order and make sense of this thing we called our life before it's over. For me it has led to forgiveness, and a perspective that I didn't have when younger. But I don't drag the shoebox out and wallow in it on a regular basis. I've made my peace with what's in there.
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Old Yesterday, 07:59 AM
 
10,600 posts, read 9,572,548 times
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Retirement affords both physical and emotional freedom! There is no way I'd allow this well deserved and priceless freedom to be overshadowed by dredging up anything negative that may have occurred during my life.
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Old Yesterday, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
24,538 posts, read 18,276,350 times
Reputation: 28845
Quote:
Originally Posted by brightdoglover View Post
May I gently suggest that you aren't very psychologically astute at your young age.

Things certainly don't come up "randomly." Without the need to soldier on and maintain work and family requirements, the coping mechanisms loosen or fall apart. Also, there are apparently enough years from events that some strengths are built up and the person is able to see the whole process more clearly.

I think the word "dwell" is insulting, frankly. Like people just have time to sit around and ruminate. It's a lot more intricate and entwined.
I used to stew on things mentally until I'd get myself extremely angry, depressed, frustrated, etc. All it did was cause myself a lot of unnecessary stress, and ultimately, that kind of behavior never solves anything.

If something goes really wrong, I try to pick up the pieces, learn what went wrong, and try to avoid a repeat of those circumstances or behavior in the future. A person can sit here and dwell on the "woulda, shoulda, coulda," but it ultimately isn't that productive. Figure out the real problem, learn from it, and move on.
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Old Yesterday, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
24,538 posts, read 18,276,350 times
Reputation: 28845
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheShadow View Post
My sister (may she rest) once asked me how I was able to cope with the bad things that happened in our childhood without harboring the anger and resentment towards our mom that she did. At that time she had just lost her husband to a terminal illness and she was in a very bad place. I thought about it and said that I still remember all the bad things that happened, and the drama and neglect that we suffered. I told her those events are part of the things that shaped our personalities but I don't carry the memories around in my purse with me, and pull them out to stew over day in and day out. I mentally put them in a shoebox, and I store them in the back of the closet, and when I have the time and a good reason, I take them out and really look hard at them from all angles, like analyzing a photo from a crime scene. I try to see all the little things in the background and what the evidence can tell us that's not obvious on first glance. I try to ascertain what motives and circumstances led to this result, and what is of value that I can take from this. And then I put them back in the box, close the closet, and get on with my life. I guess it's what people call compartmentalization.

Once people are retired they suddenly have more time to pull out the shoebox I suppose. Back when working, we had to get on with our work lives, and taking care of the house and yard, and children, and all the other activities we commit ourselves to, and compartmentalizing was the way to get it all done. But often in retirement we have the time, and with the ticking of the clock, we want to put it all in order and make sense of this thing we called our life before it's over. For me it has led to forgiveness, and a perspective that I didn't have when younger. But I don't drag the shoebox out and wallow in it on a regular basis. I've made my peace with what's in there.
Agreed. Occasionally I'll run into someone or something that brings up a bad memory or feeling, but I try to get on with my day afterward.

I've done some bad things in my life, and I'd consider myself a bad guy in high school. It wasn't the usual school drama - I had a nasty mean streak. I got a guy expelled from school for a semester when I was the root cause. I introduced several people to the party lifestyle who later became severe addicts. I basically picked fights and stirred the pot just to get reactions. A lot of people from back then still don't like me and I don't blame them. I've cheated on most of my partners. I've also done a lot of very cool and interesting things, and have been generous with people to my own detriment a lot of times.

With that said, I can't change the past. All I can do is try to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them. Dwelling on it isn't helpful.
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Old Yesterday, 09:39 AM
 
2,258 posts, read 968,951 times
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It's not uncommon to see one 70 year old sibling tell another that mommy or daddy liked you best. It's not uncommon for people to blame their current problems on things that happened 20 to 60 years ago. It's also not uncommon for people to say the past is dead, forget it, tomorrow's not here yet, don't worry about it, and today is here, make the best of it. It's your retirement, do with it what you will. Your happiness, contentment, satisfaction, enthusiasm, pleasure is ultimately up to you. You can be forgiving or be resentful, be brave or be scared, be cheerful or be dour. It's all up to you.
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Old Yesterday, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
22,883 posts, read 14,982,055 times
Reputation: 32872
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv4horses View Post
Itís interesting that now that Iím retired I am examining my past in perspective. Itís almost like the work years were an interlude and now I can re-examine the time (youth) before my career launched.

But Iím also actively evaluating my working years, realizing I had no idea of the societal, political, and economic forces behind the scenes. Many fascinating books are written.

So even without trauma itís a time to review, to try to figure it all out.
This is me too! And sometimes posts on C-D or questions asking for advice give me opportunities to review my past actions. And Iíve been forced to face some hard truths about my painful early life.

I like your term, review. In retirement one can review oneís life. One has the chance to forgive others and oneself, without simply excusing bad behavior.

Retirement is a great gift. It really is.
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Old Yesterday, 10:26 AM
 
198 posts, read 74,947 times
Reputation: 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimAZ View Post

I donít see how people can reach their mid-60s without coming to terms with their mortality. Is the power of self delusion that strong?
Hubby and I were just talking about this this morning. Regarding older parents and them not wanting to downsize to a more easily to take care of home and cleaning out their clutter. Denial and delusion and I suspect we will be the ones clearing it out down the road. I think people are so attached to their "things" that really don't mean that much. We are retired and decluttered for the most part and am in the process of downsizing, wanting to keep things simple
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Old Yesterday, 10:48 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
7,100 posts, read 3,921,802 times
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Sometimes some very bad things happen and maybe some people should never be parents. I was part of a writers' group, the Late Orphan Project, that resulted in two books a couple years ago. Every writer participant had lost their parents after they reached adulthood and had gained a mature perspective on their life and their parents' passing. Some of the stories were very troubling and some revealed painful issues between siblings on how they were raised. Some scars were still very prominent in peoples' memories while others in the family didn't register the same episodes. Most of the stories were positive or had a positive outcome. I think that writing about one's unhappy past is one way to approach resolution. Putting words on paper (or an electronic page) requires organized thought and reflection. Writing is an active process -- words and thoughts migrate from one's brain through the hands and on to paper or a screen where they can stay -- either privately or shared after a while -- but there might be some resolution or even closure through the process.
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Old Yesterday, 10:59 AM
 
Location: equator
3,925 posts, read 1,714,362 times
Reputation: 9811
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
Sometimes some very bad things happen and maybe some people should never be parents. I was part of a writers' group, the Late Orphan Project, that resulted in two books a couple years ago. Every writer participant had lost their parents after they reached adulthood and had gained a mature perspective on their life and their parents' passing. Some of the stories were very troubling and some revealed painful issues between siblings on how they were raised. Some scars were still very prominent in peoples' memories while others in the family didn't register the same episodes. Most of the stories were positive or had a positive outcome. I think that writing about one's unhappy past is one way to approach resolution. Putting words on paper (or an electronic page) requires organized thought and reflection. Writing is an active process -- words and thoughts migrate from one's brain through the hands and on to paper or a screen where they can stay -- either privately or shared after a while -- but there might be some resolution or even closure through the process.
I've wondered about this. I like to write, but debated whether "reliving" stuff on paper is helpful, or not. Or are you just wallowing more in the problems?

I'd like to get some resolution or closure (hate that word) on some things, but wasn't sure if writing would help or hinder. I'd sure like to get it OUT of my monkey-mind.

Thanks for sharing your take on this.
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Old Yesterday, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Central NY
4,901 posts, read 3,402,354 times
Reputation: 12730
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sand&Salt View Post
I've wondered about this. I like to write, but debated whether "reliving" stuff on paper is helpful, or not. Or are you just wallowing more in the problems?

I'd like to get some resolution or closure (hate that word) on some things, but wasn't sure if writing would help or hinder. I'd sure like to get it OUT of my monkey-mind.

Thanks for sharing your take on this.



I don't think writing it down would be wrong. It could very well be very helpful. For all the counseling and 12-step groups I've participated in, writing your story has always been encouraged.

I wish you good luck. It's your decision.
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