During the time of my divorce, I had continual Ghosts haunting my days. Reminders of my relationship, waking me in the dark, echoing where I’d walked, reflections in all my relationships. Before I talk about these Ghosts, I first want to talk about freedom. After I split from my ex, I went into counselling straight away. A favourite phrase of my counselor, was from Frankel ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to chose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom’. This phrase helped me to realise that I had freedom in choosing how to respond to events. To things that happened in my life.
Ghosts come in different guises. Easy examples of this, are walking around the home you shared. Where a ‘simple’ remedy can be to put away things from both of you. Or to put up pictures or motivational words which are purely based on what you want. I bought myself fresh flowers, so their smell filled my apartment. Twinkly fairy lights covered new pictures (which my ex never would have agreed too!). These helped me to see that I could build new dreams, that were separate to my marriage.
The harder Ghosts are joint friends, and family. I personally felt empowered when I made the decision to remove certain people completely from my life. This isn’t possible with everyone though, and it’s a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. For certain acquaintances it was simple, but for joint friends, it was harder. Some of these people I made moves to cut them out of my life when I was in a bad mood, and I wanted to enjoy feeling ‘righteous’ from the control this gave. Being honest now though, I regret knowing I’ll never talk to them again. And I can’t take that back. So be aware there doesn’t have to be a deadline for doing this, there’s no stop clock. Take the time you need and make the decision when you’re calm (and even then, think about sleeping on it for a few weeks). Where you’re not sure- Don’t make a decision if you don’t have to, just don’t initiate conversations with them.
What about friends and family who cut you out of their life? The people who picked a side actively. With these people, just let them go. If you try to re-ignite these relationships it could just cause you unnecessary pain. This is a decision that’s been made outside your control. But what you do control is your reaction.
So, where does Frankl fit in? Well, he was a famous psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. During this time he realised there was one thing that the guards could not take from him. That was his feelings, his reaction. This is true of your Ghosts. Ghosts are stimulus’s to you. These are memories, which can be very painful initially. But these Ghosts only have the amount of power over you, that you let them. If you take a step back from these, you can see the Ghost for what it is. Its a faded memory of the past. Having this reality check of what this is, will give you the freedom and empowerment over your reaction (and how much these can and do affect you).
I’d love to know your experience of Ghosts that haunt you and how you deal with them too!