JUST DON’T GO THERE!
I moved into a new place a few months ago, after having lived at my prior address for over a decade. When you have lived somewhere for that long, you sort of go into auto pilot when you are on your way home. For instance, my job takes me all over the county on a daily basis, and though I sometimes have to rely on the assistance of G.P.S. to get where I am going, when it came time to head home, no matter where I was in the county, I could drive there without even thinking. It was as if my mind and body had the place memorized. After I moved, there were several times when, tired at the end of a long day, I decided to head home, only to find myself going the WRONG WAY – I would accidentally turn up the Parkway, driving toward my OLD place, not my NEW one. Even though I was all alone in the vehicle, I was embarrassed and dismayed each time that realization dawned that I could not go back to that place anymore, no matter how much my instincts were telling me to do so. More than that, I KNEW, without doubt, that I did not WANT to go there!
So, with relief, I would turn back toward my NEW place. I was reminded of a family whose house I had sold 12 years ago. The lady was excited to be moving into her brand new, custom built, two story home, but clung emotionally to memories past in the old one. “This is where I brought both of my babies home from the hospital,” she declared to me on more than one occasion. (“It is just a PLACE, for heaven’s sake”, I would think to myself.) Worse yet, whenever she was in the area, she would drive by her OLD house! Even if her 6 year old son was in the vehicle with her, she would drive him by there, breaking into tears, stopping and lingering in front of the house, recanting stories of their life there, and causing him to cry with her. As she was often in that area, this happened for weeks on end, with mother and son driving by the old place, looking at it mournfully, and weeping. Not exactly the most healthy way to move forward. They had a spectacular, gorgeous, custom built home that was twice as large and twice as nice as the old one, located on a beautiful, wooded, lot in a serene, peaceful setting whereas their old, tiny place was in a little subdivision that had been built atop a depleted cotton field with zero trees. But they were so busy lamenting their loss that they could not even begin to enjoy and celebrate their new life, nor appreciate their good fortune at being able to afford it.
Another client I had would get very sad and grieve whenever she drove by her previous residence, because the new owners had chopped down the trees that she and her husband had once painstakingly planted when they had built the place. She had a difficult time accepting the fact that it was no longer THEIR house, or THEIR trees, but that it all belonged to the new owner, and they had no say in what transpired there after they left that place. It mattered not what her thoughts were about how the new landscaping should appear, or what, if anything, should be changed, because SHE NO LONGER BELONGED THERE, in that place of her past. It was no longer her place to be involved in anything that happened on that property. Still, she kept vigilant watch on every rose bush, flower, or herb that the new owners planted, constantly criticizing their choices, when that time and energy could have been better spent planting a new garden at their new home.
Yet another client was perturbed that the purchaser of his former residence filled in what used to be his goldfish pond with dirt. Although the new owner had fashioned a superb rose garden on the location where the pond had been, he could not let go of the feeling that “his” pond was now gone.
I can somewhat identify with each of these clients in a manner. Although I moved multiple times when I was a child, and therefore never formed such deep attachments to a house, after my divorce I found myself continually reminiscing about the things I “used to own.” This was not done out of sentimentality, but typically occurred whenever I would go search the cupboards for an item only to realize that the ex had “inherited” it in the divorce. It was a frustrating feeling, to be reminded of things “I used to have”, be sure. Fortunately, a new friend kindly admonished me, telling me to focus on what I now have, and what I will have in the future, and this helped me immensely to stop looking backward with sadness. I am not saying that I will not still comment, such as I did last night, when I realized that I no longer owned a meat tenderizer, but rather than being wistful about it, I was merely stating a fact before heading out to the store to purchase a new one.
Both conventional wisdom and modern thinking agree that there are times in life when letting go is not only a necessary thing, but a MANDATORY thing if we are to be able to heal. One cannot go to a NEW place, if one is still stuck in the OLD one. So what is the answer to being able to truly let go of places, things and people that belong in the past, but not in the present or future? I believe one of the ways to accomplish this is “JUST DON’T GO THERE!!!” Do NOT, if you are still adapting to your new life, visit the old one. Do NOT, if you are trying to appreciate the new place, person, or thing God has granted you, keep going back to the OLD one! Why would anyone want to keep doing that to themselves, anyway? Turn on your GPS, so you can find your way to that twice as big, twice as nice person, place, or thing that surely awaits you, if you will only allow yourself to appreciate it. As for the old way of life? It’s pretty simple: “JUST DON’T GO THERE!”