The Ghosts of My Past

My emotions come at me in waves. Often I’m strong enough to withstand them – to hold the ship steady – but every now and then they catch me with my shields down. I’m swept away. 

That happened the other day when the movers came in to pack everything up. Seeing my whole life packed into boxes. That was difficult. 

But the hardest moment came after they had gone. When I was left all alone in an empty apartment, the place we’d called home for the past four years. 

And I could see it all at once. I could see the first time we brought my eldest son home from the hospital. I could picture my youngest taking his first steps across the living room floor. All the heart to hearts with my wife, sat exhausted on the sofa after a long day. 

The ghosts of my past were everywhere to be seen.

Yet, my present had already packed up and left. Waiting for me in Singapore while I see out the remaining 3 months of my contract here in Hong Kong.

It was then that the sheer enormity of the decision we’d made hit me. It was then that the real ghosts of my past started screaming. Telling me I’ve made a huge mistake, that I don’t what I’m doing, that I’m weak for not having put up with everything.

Here we go again, I thought. The voices in my head that never let up. The voices that have haunted me for so long.

Part of me worried that maybe, underneath it all – behind the politics, the toxic work culture, the endless days of quarantine – the real reason for leaving is a futile attempt to try and outrun these ghosts. Hoping I would somehow be able to leave them behind when I leave myself.

For the longest time I thought the voices telling me to leave were those ghosts. So, I figured the path to salvation was staying put. I figured I had to stay the course.

But I know that’s not true. I know it was my ghosts that kept me frozen in fear for so long.

The funny thing is, now that the decision is made, it seems, in some strange sense, the louder they scream the surer I am. Yet, they still scream, they still kick. 

Thankfully I know my ghosts well. l know, more often than not, they appear in a desperate attempt to mask some deeper pain beneath the surface. I also know that trying to outrun them is a mistake.

So, I believe, a better question isn’t how to stop your ghosts from appearing, but how to see through them when they do. To do that, you have to hold them in your heart. 

To see through the ghosts of your past you have to accept them as they are.

After torturing myself for a while that day I sat down in middle of that empty apartment and took some time to let my ghosts be. Slowly but surely the voices started to quell. 

Slowly but surely the real pain my ghosts were masking began to surface: Grief. 

Of course, the only way to process grief is to let your shields downs. The only way to process grief is to let your emotions sweep you away. So, that’s what I did.

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29 thoughts on “The Ghosts of My Past

  • I’ve been there. Different circumstances, but similar feeling. Grief’s waves tumble in when you least expect them. And as you’ve learned, it’s best just to sit with them rather than fight them. Sending you a soul hug, AP2.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you firefly, truly. It’s the last thing we want to do, but most important that we do. You can only resist those difficult emotions for so long before they catch up with you. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Having moved 17 times during my life AP2, the Ghosts of My Past showed up each time and lingered with their grief more than anticipated. It’s one of those aggravating ‘rights of passage’ of some careers that come with the territory. But, I finally found the answer to dispel them . . . Retirement!😊

    Stay the course brother. Ghosts of the Past with their griefs never take up permanent residence when we focus on the Joys of the Future . . .

    Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Bravo, AP2–what an incredibly strong piece of writing! As I was reading your post, I thought how incredibly courageous you are! Do we have any idea how many people are clinging to a dead past because they’re too afraid to leap into the unknown?! The numbers must be staggering, and I was once one of them.
    What also stood out in my mind, especially as it relates to what you shared about the voice in the head (attempting to tell you that you were making a mistake) is that you’re way ahead of the crowd! Why? Because you realize that you’re NOT the voice in the head. You’re witnessing it as it attempts to tell its ghostly story–which means that the voice is not you!
    A toast, dear friend, to your new exciting stage of life! 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Art, as always. It’s easy to forget we’re not the voices in our head but you’re right. It’s when you take a moment to recognise that, those voices often lose the control they have over you. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, AP2. I agree with what you shared; and as we become more accustomed to just taking a moment to stop and recenter, we realize more of That which we truly are. Your new career/situation is going to be amazing! Positive vibes heading out to you and your family! 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  • Best wishes with your big move! Letting go of the past is so hard and good for you for taking the time to acknowledge and face your ghosts. May your new chapters ahead be filled with new happy memories and opportunities!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I take solace in the fact that if it weren’t so sad it wouldn’t have been so happy. Lots of wonderful memories both behind and ahead. Thank you Ab. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Grief. That one seems to bring me to tears. As you suggested, it’s best to feel it and let it out.

    As a kid, my family moved a lot. Not because my mom got a new job but because she was always seeking better, or she could no longer afford where we were living. I hated packing up and leaving what had become familiar. Then I graduated from high school, joined the military and moved even more. What always made me feel better was seeing each move as a new adventure. I know it sounds childish, but it always got me through. Sending prayers your way. As we both know, life gets better. Can’t wait to hear about your new adventures in Singapore. 🙏🏽💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shaun. It doesn’t sound childish to me at all. It is a new adventure! That’s exactly the way to look at it. Of course, we still need to take the time to grief over what we are losing/giving up. It’s a process. Wishing you the very best Shaun. Thank you for your understanding 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Kudos on letting yourself grieve. I hope your new beginning in Singapore is everything you hoped for. Wishing you happiness and health to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

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