Giving Up the Ghost

Considering the fact that Halloween is right around the corner, I figured I’d dedicate this post to those things that haunt us. Haunting means different things to different people: it can mean everything from ethereal to spooky, but the one sure bet with any haunting is that it lingers in our minds. We cannot shake it off.

 

Who haunts your thoughts?

 

Now, the phrase “giving up the ghost” mostly refers to physical death, but today, I want to explore other types of death. It is my contention that there are things far worse than physical expiration—I realize that this is controversial and perhaps sounds like an odd thing to say—but it’s what I believe. For instance, I have no desire to live to be 112—all my friends would be dead, so where’s the fun in that? But there are other types of deaths we all have experienced and moved on from: the death of our childhood, the death of our innocence, the death of a loved one, the death of an illness or injury, the death of a bad relationship. These experiences are deaths, too. Personally, I have no desire to return to being 14 years old—what about you? So, while there is a certain loss that accompanies any death, there is also a promise of a better future.

 

The problem is that many of us struggle with replaying certain memories, good or bad, repeatedly in our heads. These are the things that haunt us. It’s good to remember–if we didn’t, we’d probably have Alzheimer’s—but there’s a difference between remembering something and obsessively holding onto it. For instance, do you know anyone who believes that their best days were back in high school and they just can’t get over it? Sort of sad; life has a whole lot more to offer than what they experienced at 17. Find joy in the now! But, what’s worse are the negative experiences that we sink our teeth into and play out repeatedly. These hauntings are the worst sort of nightmares.

 

Using examples from my life (and I have many from which to choose), I think of two people who could not, would not, and absolutely refused to move on from the end of a relationship. They dedicated nearly every waking moment to reliving their anger, unhappiness, or feelings of betrayal about this episode in their lives—and this went on for DECADES. They would not give up this ghost, voluntarily chaining themselves to it, a la the Ghost of Christmas Past. Trust me when I say it was terrifying to witness.

 

What ghost do you cling to?

 

I struggle with aspects of this myself. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage it better, but there remain times when I revert to my old ways, tap into old feelings of disappointment or anger about stuff that has no current value to my life. I think with huge regret and wistfulness about what might have been. I think about suitable pay back for harm caused. But the difference today is that I don’t want to be haunted or chained down or allow such toxins to run poison through my bloodstream. So, I stop. I refocus on something I am looking forward to, someone who makes me happy now. I have worked hard at liberating myself from these spooky spectres.

 

What about you? Where do you stand on such matters? What do you do to release these burdens? A re-booter appreciates that the death of such things is a favor. Let them fly away…

Doves at sunset

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One Response to “Giving Up the Ghost”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Good one!

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