The New Year was originally dedicated to an ancient Roman god of gateways by the name of Janus (think of the word “January”… see the connection?). Janus had two faces, as a gate faces in and out, one looking backwards to the past and one looking forwards to the future. Hence he was also the god of new beginnings!
Greek and Roman mythology are one of my favorite study topics, but as you all know my TRUE passion is discussing mood disorders with my mental health tribe. So, naturally, when I think of Janus and how his two-faced self applies to our journey to recovery, I think about the importance of not just looking towards the future of 2018 but of reflecting on the previous year as well and the weights we are holding onto that could keep us living in 2017 longer than we need to.
Intrusive thoughts and memories of the past, including abuse; trauma; neglect; heartbreak; rejection; and failure.
Guilt over mistakes made, broken promises, and disappointing ourselves or other people.
Regretting decisions that led to upheaval, missed opportunities, and time wasted.
Blame towards ourselves and others, and the anger that comes with it.
These burdens are heavy; so heavy that they can become all we see. We lose sight of the light and the hope of today and tomorrow because we are so weighed down with the hurt and pain of yesterday. Getting control back over our future means looking towards our past first to deal with its demons, not ignoring the past and hoping it goes away eventually. That may work for a while, but it can be exhausting and ultimately lead to a blow-up. Spending some time to reflect on the past, the feelings and thoughts it brings up and the effects it has had on you is the first step, but it can’t be done alone or it will leave you feeling empty and depressed about the future.
You MUST combine your reflections with a soulful search for the meaning behind your life story. What priceless lessons have you learned from past experiences? How have they made YOU a better person? Mistreatment is never condonable, and suffering is never pleasant. But did you become a person who contributes to the world BECAUSE and DESPITE of it? Or has been holding you back from the true person you want to be? For those of us who are being held back by pasts of trauma or abuse, has that been robbing you of any joy for tomorrow? Are you missing something that you want back?
We can’t change the past. We can only accept that it happened, and we arrived through it to THIS moment. We have power over THIS moment. What will we do with it? We can hide from our pasts or we can use them to mold and shape a better future for ourselves and for other people in this world who need and want a better future with us. Just as we can’t shy away from the things of our past, we can’t shy away from the future. Approach today, and each day, with determination. With hope and faith that life throws us both good and bad things, but we persevere to hold the hands of our brothers and sisters and move forward into tomorrow knowing that WE ARE NOT ALONE.