I have a “love/hate” relationship with the smart phone app called Timehop. If you are unfamiliar with this app, it is an app that connects with other social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Through this connection it’s able to pull everything you posted on this particular day of the year over the past several years. It’s almost like a little “poke” every day reminding you of that trip you took or that picture you posted of that dinner you ate at that restaurant back in 2012. Whatever it may be, Timehop finds it and reminds you of days long past – and it does so every morning at around 9am (or, at least it does on my phone at that time).
I love this app when cute pictures of my kids pop up. Sometimes I even share that throwback photo on Facebook and reminisce over how adorable my kids once were. However, there are times when these past posts stir up uncomfortable and sad feelings. I am a woman, therefore I attach emotion to pretty much every event, which then filters over to any social media post about said event or any picture that reminds me of said event. So, not all posts give me the warm and fuzzies like older pics of my kids.
Back in 2013 my husband and I were separated from July through around October. The few years leading up to that were filled with turmoil, counseling, and a ton of hurt. Every “poke” Timehop sends me from that time frame makes me cringe and those awful feelings begin to stir inside of me. Especially during the four months we were separated and heading toward divorce. How long does it take to get beyond those feelings of betrayal, hurt, and anxiety?
More importantly, how can I appreciate these glimpses of my past without immediately drawing on the negative?
I’ve had to work through this a great deal over the past two years, so here are the tools that have helped me move forward in a healthier way:
- Try to choose different emotions to tie to those events. I remember distinctly the pictures that hurt the worst when they popped up on my Timehop app. They were pictures of our “family” vacation the year we separated where my husband took the first half of the week with the kids at the beach and I took the second half of the week. It was absolutely awful in so many ways to have our family disjointed like that. It was awkward and very hard on the kids. The pictures of us on that trip were hollow at best. When those pictures popped up this past summer and the summer before I wanted to weep remembering how painful it was. However, when those types of pictures and memories arise, I have begun feeling grateful that we survived it and handled the entire situation with grace and love. I begin choosing to feel pride in the good choices my kids made to be loving and patient during that time as well as feeling blessed that God was so obviously with us in the midst of our struggles.
- Appreciate how far you’ve come since then and remind yourself what you’ve learned along the way. Society today seems to be afraid of the pain that comes with working through tough times. We want the growth, but we don’t want to hurt as we grow. The truth is that some of the most amazing and meaningful growth in our lives comes through life’s struggles and heartaches. So, when faced with these sad memories of tough times past we should recall all of the good things that have blossomed out of the pain. How have we grown? What relationship is stronger now because of it? What joy can we point to that clearly shows how much we, or someone we love, has grown out of the pain? My answers to these questions are long and meaningful, but I can say that there are many joys I can clearly identify that came directly from those painful experiences in my marriage.
- Remember that the past is the past. Allowing myself to feel sad, anxious, or angry when seeing these posts gives the past a power over me that it shouldn’t have. The past is gone, never to return again. It truly has no power over our present . . . unless we give it power. We need to re-engage the here and now and begin making new memories that are associated with positive and happy emotions.
- Don’t use social media to air relationship issues. Fortunately I didn’t post much when Steve and I were separated, but one valuable lesson I’ve learned through all of this is to be intentional about what I DO choose to post. I try my best to make it a positive post and with very little complaining – especially about my family members. I am so glad I chose to not disclose personal information on Facebook about my marriage issues. And, I’m very glad that I chose not to bash Steve on social media or post snarky quotes or comments that could be assumed to be about him. Had I done any of that, Timehop would most certainly be a slap in the face every day. Friends, remember that social media is public. Use it wisely.
I actually do enjoy Timehop, most of the time, but I genuinely appreciate the challenge it has presented me as I continue to grow through my marriage struggles over the years. The pain of the past never really goes away completely, but it does diminish over time. How we handle the past in our present is important, and my hope is that you, too, are finding vital ways to leave the past in the past and growing toward a healthier and happier future.