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The Past is the Past - But It's Still Here (long)

Crazy_in_Ohio's picture

We all come with the baggage of our past. As much as we'd like think we're completely over the things that have shaped us, there are bits and pieces that come back at times to bite us. Some situations are far worse and longer reaching than others.

While I'd like to beleive that I am capable of defending myself against the past at this point in my life, it sometimes creeps back in and clutches me in its hold and I really have to struggle to get out of it. Some of the situations I've had to face in my life would be the stuff that a movie on Lifetime would be made out of.

When I first started dating my SO, I searched on the new "stepfamily" culture. I found these boards. While I don't have situations nearly as severe as some, I get a lot of out of it. However, I'm a product of divorce parents from the early 80's (like 1980) and back then there wasn't anyone to really talk to or to feel kinship with. People avoided us and my friends weren't allowed to talk to me anymore. First divorce on the street - but not the last!

My dad and my stepmom couldn't have handled things more poorly. She moved in a week after my dad threw my mom out and my dad told us that she was our new "Mom". It was horrifying. When Mommie Dearest came out in 1981, I'm pretty sure my step-mom was Joan Crawford and I was the blackhaired version of Christina. My Stepmom LOVED that movie. I was seven-ish. I couldn't fathom why I needed to even SEE that movie; let alone live it. Only we weren't rich, we weren't famous and I was the maid.

Anyway - back to my original point - regardless of being institutionlized and years of therapy, I have baggage from growing up there - I do my best to get rid of it, to keep it in check. I've learned how to cope, and I've found the healthy tools I need to live a GOOD life. And it is good and I'm thankful for it.

One thing I don't like to do is clean. For birthdays growing up, I got polishing systems and once, (a really big splurge) I got an electric hardwood floor buffer! Any nine year old would love it! The BEST present ever. While I don't live in a pig sty, and I'm not a hoarder and I don't live in filth - I live in a pleasant state of clutter. For some this is unacceptable, for me this is my last "fuck you" to my Mommie Dearest. And I'm perfectly ok with it. There are far worse things I could do and I'm only human. Maybe someday I'll work on this, but it's just not my goal for today.

So this morning, my SO says "I don't understand how people have their car so cluttered and the outside of their house looks so nice" - It's not my car - it's the neighbors car and every time she gets out of it, something falls on the ground and she doesn't pick it up - and I said "I totally understand it." and he said "You don't live with your stepmom anymore, why would you want to understand it? I don't want to live in filth" and I said "You're not married to your exwife anymore, but you still behave like you are sometimes. It's how our past is always with us" and he said "That's BS, I'm completely over that and it has no bearing on my life. But you, you're always in the past" And then he left for work.

Then he sends me a text that says "Just because you have issues doesn't mean you should project them on to me" I have not responded. The one text says mountains to me. He's ashamed because he knows it's true but he doesn't have the tools to do anything about it.

I'm not a psychiatrist or a therapist (thought I did minor in it in college - I thought once I could help people) but I know damn well that noone is immune to their past and it shapes us whether we like it or not. He will talk to me about his childhood and how great it was in one sentence, but if his sister is brought up, the venom in his fangs starts dripping about the "The Perfect One". The one who was allowed to play sports and be a cheerleader, while he and his brother couldn't even play something if they found their own rides. If his exwife calls, he starts shaking before he even answers it. If that's not baggage and issues, I don't know what is. But I love him, baggage and all. I just wish he could wake up and see it's not the most horrible place to be.

Most of the problems we have on this board are from baggage and the inability to process it and find a healthy way to deal with it. This is not an accusation against any one person; it's merely an observation.

If we could wake every day with a blank slate, would you do it? I wouldn't. I know that I'm not perfect, but I love my imperfections. I love that I've lived a rich and varied life. I feel blessed that I've been able to rise above what I started out from. I feel blessed that I've been able to take the sour lemons that life handed my parents who in turn handed to me and I've made a lemon pie - complete with whipped cream.

It's time for another cup of coffee.


B22S22's picture

Our past - no matter what it is - shapes us all in one way or another. It's how we deal with it that determines the kind of person we are and will continue to be.

Although some things that happen in our lives are out of our control, we DO control how we react, cope, and grow with the circumstance. Or not.

I would NOT want to have a clean slate every day because I'm afraid I'd make the same MISTAKES every day because I wouldn't have the knowledge and wisdom that has come from both good times and bad times during my lifetime.

Crazy_in_Ohio's picture

Nope and he knows it. Smile But we don't actually live together full time. We keep it that way because until his children are grown and his obligation to his exwife is over, I don't want to truly combine households. Smile Sorry I should have made that more clear.

But that's also an issue from his past. His exwife is a hoarder. Truly. I've seen the pictures. He did what he could, but he was over run.

So now, much like me, he's taken a stance - even though I'm not a hoarder. Hell I don't even have enough furniture to fill my house and it's small. But that's his past biting him in the ass. I can accept mine and talk about it, and try to figure out how to manage it acceptably.

Willow2010's picture

I had to lol a bit about the car clutter. I have a spotless house. My car is a disaster area. It drives my DH nuts. He hates that I am so obsessive about a clean house. (only because I make him help, I think) lol

Then if he gets in my car he is just in amazement at how dirty it is. I always lol at him and tell him it is just the way I roll and its not his car so bite me.

Crazy_in_Ohio's picture

It's not my car that's the cluttered mess - I just changed my post - I get on a roll and forget details. My cars are spotless because it's the one place where I feel very clausterphobic so they have to be clean clean clean. It's the neighbors car that's the mess. Smile

But otherwise, I agree with your points. Smile And when and if he lives here full time, we'll discuss how we keep the house clean. Otherwise, he can sleep at his house and not get laid. Smile hahahahah

The main reason for my disagreement with him is how he chooses to hide his head in the sand about his actions, because he's ashamed and fearful, while telling me to get over mine. It's like that partial acknoweldgement of MY problems, but he's totally ok Smile

tryingmom's picture

When married to my first husband he was an overbearing controlling Ahole. The only thing I could control was a clean house, it gave me something to do, to avoid that man. My house was spotless. When we divorced, I was doing a whirlwind cleaning of MY home and a bell went off in my brain. I don't have to do this anymore. Now, I clean as it is needed. Don't focus on the clutter as much, and LIVE in my home. It was such a transition for me. So much time and energy wasted on cleaning everything, everyday.

DH grew up with a mother that was almost a hoarder. She now hoards little dogs that don't seem to know where the door is to go out to potty. She lives with it, she doesn't make excuses and it is, what it is. When first together he was a clean freak, he was not going to live like he used to. Over time, he gets it, he is less fanatical, but he still likes a clean house.

Baggage is right, we all have it and it does make us who we are, good or bad. It is how we deal with those steamer trunks of our past. DH and I joke about the "old tapes", I am outwardly a confident person, but I have my insecurities. When I am down I play the old tapes of my first marriage where I am fat, ugly and no man will ever want me. Sigh. When DH is down he can be found cleaning like a wild man and becomes withdrawn. Our "old tapes" have formed our coping skills. Not great ones, but they are ours. Sometimes it just takes DH telling me that I look great one day and I am cured. For DH, if I roll up my sleeves and help him clean he relaxes and we finish the task at hand and he is relieved. We carry our baggage together these days and it helps us both. We talk about regrets, we both regret our first marriages, but without those marriages the best of both of us, the kids, wouldn't be here. We are grateful for those kids, good, bag and annoying. They make us how we are.

New second wife-step-mom's picture

Crazy, I totally agree the past isn't always so easy to leave in the past.

My EX was a sneaky, conniving, manipulating player. So I have a really hard time trusting anyone even DH. I deal with it all of the time, just learning to let go and not worry is hard for me.

DH always tells me that I need to leave the past in the past and trust him more (I'm working on it). But he has problems with trust too because of BM.

When we were first married he would sneak home at different times for supposedly different reasons but I knew he was checking up on me because of BM's infidelity. I was ok with it and acted like nothing was going on. "oh, DH you left your briefcase at home again" lol.

DH and BM lived separate lives. They each did their own thing so because of this DH has issues and I deal with them every day.

Yes, it is like the "old tapes" playing in our heads and we are fighting to force them out or realize that is no longer our reality.

I am pretty big on replacing the old tape version playing in my head with a NEW version.

So Crazy, my suggestion would be to you one day clean your house for you! Not because you are made to, not because your SM or anyone else is making you. Just put on some blaring happy music, put on some happy, happy clothes, do a little dance, invite some friends over, have a party, and clean!!! Smile