I've always found the past a difficult concept to come to terms with. The idea that what is done, cannot be undone. That, no matter how hard you strive to, you can never retrieve what you once had. I've been mulling over this recently as I reflect over how, despite struggling with my eating and self-destructive behaviours, how much I was incidentally also a free spirit at the age of around 16. The simple concept of going outside and getting on a bus didn't faze me, it was a normal process, as was going out with my big group of friends, having no responsibilities and the knowledge that despite my illness (although I wasn't aware of this at the time), there really wasn't too much to worry about. Of course, being 16 was for me not too long ago (although almost 6 years) and so I can look back on the bliss of finishing my GCSE's, falling in love for the first time, festivals and holidays with friends with a smile and also sadness that I imagine that I'll never be able to feel that way ever again. I feel that I've wasted a huge majority of my life since that stage due to my illnesses, in and out of therapy, hiding myself away, never allowing myself to have a life. It just hasn't seemed fair and ultimately I'm to blame entirely for that.
What I find much more difficult about the concept of the past is striving to remember the fragments of a life which I cannot recall. I know many people who can look back on their life and recall thousands of memories - all without motioning to a single photograph. To remember my childhood, and my early teenage years in particular, I needed photographs, and the majority of the time I thought myself to imagine certain memories because they didn't seem real without photographic evidence. I wasn't sure whether I remembered certain events, or whether I only remembered them because I had the evidence to prove I was in a particular place at a particular time. And I've hated myself for not being able to remember these things as it feels like I should be looking back on a life which needs to be remembered, not one that I've deliberately blocked out from my memory.
Although, I believe, that I have deliberately blocked my early childhood, and this has made coming to terms with a mental health problem difficult. As you may imagine, I am often asked why I feel the way that I do, and can never come up with a coherent answer. I was bullied as a child, excessively, through to the age of 15, and was abandoned by my biological father, but never knew enough of those two areas of my life to want to blame them for my later diagnoses. It didn't seem fair to place blame. Pre 16 years old - I remember life through a montage of photographs and not much else. I don't remember primary school life, and much of secondary school life was fuelled by unhappiness. But I never really had the answers as to why, and whilst I am aware that mental health problems do not always bear reasoning, sometimes they just happen, I've never had closure on certain areas of my life that I've needed. Why was I such an awful child that number one - my biological father never even wanted to bear me and number two - the people who should have been my friends, my classmates, didn't either.
In the last week my life has taken a drastic turn in the reappearance of my biological father into my life. I don't particularly want to go through the whole story on this blog regarding my situation, but before this week I hadn't spoken to him in fourteen years, but had never really had a relationship with him. I had nothing to go on really other than words from my mother, being too afraid as I approached teenage life of his whereabouts, ironically the time I became curious of him and his life was clearly just the wrong time to ask. Plus, I had a step-father, one that I have grown up to call 'Dad' since I was seven years old, so to my family, the concept of desiring my biological fathers whereabouts was lost on them, understandably, I guess.
I decided to try and track him down only a month ago, and after a stroke of luck, he discovered that I was searching for him, retrieved my surname and found me on Facebook.
To have him openly apologise for his actions, admit to his lack of maturity and responsibility and to admit his desire to begin a relationship, even if over the internet, has been, as you can imagine, a somewhat confusing and debilitating time for me. He has his own life now, and to accept that and to still want to find and speak to his own daughter and admit to his wrongdoing was, in my opinion, courageous. We all have pasts that we're ashamed of, after all.
It's been almost a week since we've made contact and we plan to meet in the near future, after my first year examinations, so I can retrieve the answers I've always wanted. Some would ask why I want to do this, and quite often I'm asking myself the exact same question, but it always comes back to the same answer - the answer being that I, myself, want answers. It's only fair to desire them after having a skewed interpretation of what your childhood is/was and the implications it may have had on my childhood, teenage and adult mental health. We may not ever come up with a reason as to why I am the way I am - how can I, really? We are constructed from a variety of different pieces of our lives, and my pieces don't really fit together just yet. I'm not saying that this piece is the defining one, but it's a progression into acceptance of my past, in order to move on with my future. Or at least, to attempt to.
I must learn, that my past does not wholly define my character, the same as my biological father's doesn't define his. I can change my future if I make a concious decision to, and I haven't quite yet, I'll admit. It's difficult to let go and I'm not sure if I ever will. But at least I know what I need to do, and that's a start.