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When We Don't Deal with Our Past Wounds

Residing in our neighborhood is this little, spastic, albino squirrel. For the last two years, we have seen Willis often. He has bright red eyes and dirty white fur (or hair, I’ve never pet a squirrel). We’ve named him Willis, assuming he is a male squirrel, and the name just seems to really fit him.

Anyways, Willis, like any smart squirrel, is only really seen in the warmer weather months. He jumps around yard to yard, climbing trees, eating acorns, and just being his creepy, demon looking self.

It’s really easy to spot Willis in the summer. It’s light out longer each day, his whiteness contrasts with the brown trees and green grass. We know when he is there. Just lingering around. Doing his thing.

We don’t see him in the winter, though. Maybe he is hibernating. Maybe he blends in with the piles of snow we have. Honestly, I don’t know anything about the life of a squirrel, but I do know we don’t see him for awhile. As much as it might offend him, we temporarily forget about our beloved Willis.

Until we see him again, back in action.

This happened yesterday. We haven’t seen him in months but yesterday as we were driving my husband hits the breaks in disbelief and I hear him gasping to say “it’s Willis”.

I never thought a squirrel could bring so much joy to one’s life.

I especially never thought that this experience with Willis would open my eyes to something so much deeper. But I like metaphors so it makes sense this happened. Willis brought to mind a very important theme in my life.

I have these wounds, these hurts from my past. Some of them I have walked through and healed from. Others I have tried to ignore and push to the side. I use distractions to cope with the guilt, hurt, sadness or regret they may bring up.

Unfortunately for me, I know when I’m doing it and I know why I’m doing it.

It hurts. It sucks. I hate thinking about it. So I just keep doing what I do- distracting, pushing it away, pretending it’s not what it is. Or at the very least, acting like it doesn’t still hurt.

The thing is though, these things don’t actually work long term. They don’t actually make me ok. It might work temporarily, but it doesn’t last.

I may go months without it coming into my mind, not a thought about it. Then one day I’m driving in my car and there it is. For whatever reason, it pops into my head before I can stop it and I sit there with those same old feelings.

Kind of like Willis. Sometimes I don’t see him. When the weather changes like the circumstances in my life, he goes unnoticed. The pain goes unnoticed.

But just because I don’t see him, doesn’t mean he is gone. Willis continues to come back.

The thing is, I know it doesn’t have to stay this way. I know if I actually allow myself to feel the pain of my past, and use the tools I have to cope, I can get passed it. I’m not saying I will forget these events, but it doesn’t have to be something that continues to cause me pain and consume my mind.

How about you? Do you find things from your past creep into your mind every once in awhile? Or maybe even often? Maybe there are familial situations from your childhood, or a breakup, or an unhealthy friendship, or the death of a loved one, or a divorce or your childhood innocence or anything that is still causing you pain. If so, it’s never to late to address it. It’s never too late to process through it and find healing. Find someone to talk to, a trusted friend or professional. Clearly I’m a little biased about therapy.. but come on people, I believe everyone could benefit from going to therapy!

In order for us to actually heal from the past, we need to understand that we are worth walking through the pain for. It IS painful. But it’s worth it. You are worth doing this for.

All this to say, to myself and to you if you need to hear it, don’t let your past wounds dictate your today. Don’t let them steal your joy, or take away from each moment you have now. You can try to put them in hibernation, to forget they are there, but when you least expect it, they will pop up. It’s not too late to deal with.

Yes, all this came from seeing Willis, the albino neighborhood squirrel. He’ll do that to ya.

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