This is a guest article from our dear reader and contributor Darren Fletcher.

Are You Too Addicted To The Past?

“Son let me tell you a story, iIt’s one of the reasons I loved Missing (the Ex) so much.”

My son turned to me with a look of sincerity in his eyes.

“You know where that bike shop is in McHenry Village?”

“Yeah I know McHenry Village, it's where that Mexican restaurant is …” he answered.

“Right. Well one day early in 2010 Missing and I decided to head over to the bike shop because we were interested in getting into cycling for fitness and fun. When we parked and got out of the car, we noticed a young man about your age (20) who was homeless and looked quite sad.

Missing said: ‘Wait here'.

The rest unfolded in a surreal way for me.

She approached the young man and quietly offered to buy him a sandwich next door.

Then she led him by the hand into the shop and told him to order whatever he wanted, and we would pay.

The young man slowly gave his order, and moments later his food arrived. He took his food walked outside and away, thanked us, and I will never forget the very gentle smile he displayed as he slowly walked away.

All of these moments passed by for me like a dream.

I was involved, but more as an observer caught in an emotional moment. She had tactfully given this soul his dignity and a meal, handling the entire matter in a way so as to not draw attention. She never spoke down to him or raised her voice.

She was very considerate of his situation and feelings. She had displayed genuine compassion and empathy.

My heart swelled with love and pride for her.

I walked over to the bench outside as she said goodbye to him and wished him well. Then she slowly approached me her head tilted slightly trying to read my emotion. She sat next to me and said: ‘you ok?'

Words wouldn’t come. I simply sat and gently wept. We had shared a quiet moment before I gathered myself and we walked into the bike shop.

This act of kindness truly endeared her to me and reminded me very much of my mother.

Do you understand a bit more now son how I could have loved her so deeply?” I said trying to explain my feelings.

My eyes once again fogged a bit recalling this story.

My son looked over at me and softly said: “Dad when are you going to stop talking about her, not for my sake but for yours?”

This was a loving reminder of what I knew all too well.

I was still showing an addiction to the past, and if I were to move forward, I would have to beat this addiction and learn to live in the present.

One of my favorite songs played in my head:

“What we are is what we talk about, might sound strange to you, what we choose is what it’s all about, all it takes is you”
—Kip Winger (What We Are)

Ever found yourself living in a moment only to discover an hour just went by?

And the moment isn’t now it was a moment from your past.

Instead of driving by your past and waving you stopped and spent the night. You talk to your friends about your ex until they are sick of hearing about it, rolling their eyes initiating shutdown.

Addiction is a strong word. The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary describes addiction as:

“a slave to a habit or device, inclined or given up to, a habit that has become impossible to break”

Have you been honest in admitting to your addiction to the past?

We must face it head on with knowledge and understanding.

The previous story I related gave me insight into just how much and how often I was visiting the past.

It really had become an addictive behavior.

I was trying to validate feelings and emotions to others as well as convince myself by going back there in my mind over and over.

Why?

Each of us must answer that question honestly by looking deep within at what’s missing in our lives.

We should also be patient and understanding with those who are facing this addiction lovingly reminding them:

“Keep driving. Don’t stop. We aren’t there yet.”

Look at it another way.

The past is dead; we can’t live there. Nothing lives there except memories, pictures, and stories; some of them are quite powerful.

The fact is if we spend too much time there our minds and emotions can slowly die back there too, leaving little for what’s real – the here and now.

Energy goes wasted – energy and emotion that needs to be used as fuel for the present and planning the future.

Now that is a healthier place to dwell.

Stop and smell the roses, enjoy the laughter of the moment. Plan that trip.

Imagine yourself happy with another.

The focus will sharpen over time, and there are many articles on this site that will give you some specific guidance on living in the now.

Take this as a simple reminder that you too could be addicted.

Recognize the signs, keep notes daily of what is on your mind and make sure and write something hopeful that refers to the future every day.

Celebrate the little victories with yourself and others.

For instance: an hour without painful memories or tears.

A day being productive and staying busy at work without obsessing over your Ex.

Time WILL be your friend you may just be pissed at him right now.

Its okay … he will forgive you.

So remember the next time you are driving by that favorite spot on the highway in your mind just wave and tell yourself:

“Keep driving. Don’t stop. We aren’t there yet.”

Darren Fletcher

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