Yesterday, I slept in, had breakfast, engaged in a very emotional and transformative conversation with my partner, went for a hike, enjoyed a glass of red wine, and went to bed around 10pm. All the sudden at about 10:30, my eyes popped wide open. I realized that this day had been the date on which, seven years ago, I had been married to my first husband. Nearly the whole day had gone by and I hadn’t once thought of that monumentous day now so firmly rooted in my past.
My mind went into a bit of a tizzy. Why didn’t I remember? A day that was so significant for so long can’t possibly just be insignificant anymore, can it? Wasn’t I supposed to be caught in the nostalgia of the past as I thought of the choices that had led me to where I was today? I noticed that part of me wanted to feel guilty for not remembering, where another part of me felt proud (proud? seriously?) that I had done enough spiritual and emotional work that I wasn’t cast into the pit of nostalgia at the sight of two little numbers. My mind so desperately wanted to develop a clear sense of what the “right” and the “wrong” feelings were to feel in this situation. And so, being stubborn, I decided that neither were either.
In the past, I have certainly approached certain dates with a kind of guarded armor. As the date approaches, I drop my chin but keep my eyes ahead, curl my shoulder in to take the blow, and keep my hands up to protect my heart. And I have been subject to the kind of torment that certain dates can bring up in others. Dates hold meaning for us when we associate emotional events with them. Christmas is happily nostalgic, not because I am religious but because it means a time together with my family. My sister’s birthday is nostalgic because I remember holding my father’s hand and marching my four-year-old legs resolutely into the hospital with him, unsure but already fiercely protective of this new addition to the family and to whom I was “the big sister.”
Those are all happy memories, and so the dates associated with them are welcome. Yesterday, June 29th was a very happy moment for me seven years ago. In retrospect, it was one of the most significant steps to my continued spiritual awakening, as I unknowingly entered into what would become one of the most soul-wounding contracts of my life. So the memory of a joyous day was eventually tainted, colored in, coffee-dropped on and colors merging, happy photos pulled of the wall. It became difficult.
We all have dates on the calendar that are difficult. Memories of loved ones passing on. Days when we hurt someone. Days when we were hurt. And just as my thoughts about my day yesterday tried to sort which was right and which was wrong, I don’t think there is a right response to emotionally-charged calendar dates. However, I do think it is possible to start to heal from the difficult emotions that keep us stuck, every year on a certain date, as if we are back in time at the point of our original pain.
This takes work. It takes admitting that you are sad/hurt/angry/grieving/insert-dark-emotion-here. It takes moving those emotions through the body and allowing them to express so that they don’t become stuck in the cells of our bodies. It takes reconstructing the story you tell yourself about yourself in that time, and creating a new one that doesn’t point to you as the victim but rather to the situation as an agent or catalyst of change. Because these experiences change us, and that change is often the most important part of the experience.
And it takes time. Last year on June 29th, I spent the day silently tormenting myself over remembrance of the same date in 2007. I told no one (how do you speak to a new partner about it? [uh, honestly. I mean you speak about it honestly. But I was afraid to.]), and allowed myself to sink further and further in to the emotional muck of the past. And when I did that, I wasn’t really living. I wasn’t really in the present to receive the gifts therein, and instead I was letting my life be sucked back into the past.
Freedom from this is possible if we do the work. And we can always do the work. Enjoy each day that is presented to you, because each day is a wild and sacred day that, no matter how much our past emotions would like us to believe, will never come again.