Don’t dwell! Don’t think about it so much!
When you’re dealing with past traumas, you’ll likely come across people who say things like this. Sometimes, they even mean it kindly.
Underneath it all, there’s a tremendous discomfort. They may not want to see you in pain. They may not want to be bothered with your hurt or confusion. They need to ignore you. Your anger might unsettle them. They might not like what you uncover when you consider your past too closely. You might change as a result, and you suit them just fine as you are.
So they tell you to move on, as if the past is something you can jettison. For instance, your childhood shaped you, but suddenly as an adult, you’re supposed to leave it behind and move on, as if the years in which your character was formed, mental habits and reflexes developed, mean little and don’t have a grip on you now.
As if the underlying rage, fear, and confusion will go away because you simply move on. (Or pretend to, turning that frown upside down.)
Do you want to understand yourself and how you came to be the way you are? This isn’t a pointless exercise in brooding or dwelling. This isn’t about wallowing in self-pity or seeking revenge. By understanding yourself and confronting what you find painful, you gain insights into yourself and other people. You understand your own self-defeating impulses and can better check them. You know your strengths and vulnerabilities. And your understanding of yourself can always further develop as you mature.
Forgive and move on!
Many people will urge you to forgive. Otherwise, they tell you, you can’t move on.
When they tell you this, they’re usually seeking comfort for themselves. They’re asking you to make your needs secondary to theirs. You have practice in this, don’t you? You might have done this for years and years: played the role of scapegoat, toy, nursemaid, surrogate parent, whatever use another person (or other people) had for you.
Now you must dispense forgiveness, like an angel. People need their happy ending. They need proof of your wholeness and that you’re “above it all.”
Is forgiveness possible? Of course. Naturally, unforced, perhaps a long time in coming… or not at all. It’s not a hoop to jump through in order to live well.
You can’t really feel this way!
Many people will tell you what to think and feel. This is supposed to make you more agreeable to them, and if you’re more agreeable to them it automatically means that you’re a healthy, wise and lovely person. Or if not, at least you won’t bother them as much.
Preferably, any powerful emotions that overtake you will be discreet and dealt with behind closed doors, via self-medication, various numbing activities, or the selection of inappropriate targets for your rage. Those emotional needs that remain unaddressed will propel you in ways you can’t imagine and don’t care to think about, but move on already! If you need to be dysfunctional about it, well, there are many socially-sanctioned ways of being dysfunctional and cruel. Just don’t stand out too much.
Or how about this – you can try to live, try to figure out how to live well, doing worthwhile things and feeling what you feel, thinking what you think, exploring who you are and who you can be and what life means to you, and not pretending that you’re all polished through and through, and that even your pain is tidy, like an elegant black handkerchief that flutters in your hand from time to time before you fold it neatly and tuck it away.