by Tiya Cunningham-Sumter
If you are just a little bit old school you may remember singing along or slow dancing to the lyrics of this popular One Way song “Something in the Past”. If you know the words, sing it with me,
“We we’re together
Living as one
Until something happened
One day our love was gone
Always seems to be
Something in the past
Won’t let us last
Please don’t bring it up
We we’re together
Our love was very strong
Until you went and brought
Up something from the past
Which broke up our lovely home
Always seems to be
Something in the past
Won’t let us last”
When I was younger and this song would play, I would always talk back to the radio saying “well had he not done whatever it was he did in the past there would be nothing to bring up now”. I naturally took the side of the one who had been hurt. I understood that it wasn’t easy to forgive and that the person who committed the offense should feel guilty and pay for it forever. I know why I had that belief years ago; it was because those who caused the hurt deserved to hurt as well. I never considered that the guilty could possibly hurt too as a result of their poor decisions. Those past mistakes could have been an affair, a financial mishap that caused the family a great loss, or possibly a mistake or error in judgment with the children. Whatever it may be, there are regrets and wishes of a do over. Unfortunately, since we can’t go back and change what happened, the deepest regrets and sincerest apologies are all there is to give. I remember losing track of my children in a store, which was devastating for me and them. There were tons of tears and shear panic. But I am so grateful that in my house, it is as if that situation never occurred. My husband has never brought it up again and has never used it against me. I am sure he knows that if he ever wanted me quiet during a disagreement, mentioning it would shut me completely down.
It is not always easy to release hurt; relationships suffer greatly when we hold on too tight to past mistakes. Granted the action that caused the pain in the relationship is definitely to blame for the initial struggle. But if the decision has been made to move forward and repair the relationship, can it move forward effectively if someone is stuck in the past. Being stuck in the past usually looks a little like this:
You and your spouse are having a disagreement about something present day and you get so upset that you want to say something that stings. So you make the guilty feel even guiltier by angrily reminding them of the pain they once caused you. This immediately shuts your partner down, because there really is no comeback for that. Whatever it was, your partner probably apologized for it in the past and thought at this point you were both looking ahead. This one statement will confirm their fear that you actually haven’t forgotten and it may come up again, the next time you disagree. Below are a few suggestions for leaving the past behind:
Practice forgiveness: You may not ever forget the pain and disappointment and may often wonder how the person you loved could have hurt you like this. But in order to give your relationship a chance, you have to be willing to practice forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 says
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Letting it go: It is easier said than done for sure. But have an honest conversation with yourself. You know yourself and whether or not you will be able to move forward. If you can’t let go, seek outside guidance. Pray and talk to your spouse. There may be questions you need answered that may help with the closure on that situation.
Don’t use it as ammunition: It becomes an unfair fight the moment you bring up something that can’t be undone. Once we can gain control over our emotions, we will be in a better position to only deal with the issue at hand.
Living in the past and bringing up hurtful situations not only shames your spouse but it reopens those wounds you both have tried to heal. If the decision is made to move forward together, then keep focused on the road ahead.
BMWK family, what tips do you have for leaving the past behind?
Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, Founder of Life Editing and creator of The Black Wives’ Club. Tiya was featured in Ebony Magazine in the October 2008 and November 2010 issues. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two children.