Old slings and arrows: do they still bother you?

I was ready to work on my novel in progress this morning when I saw a post on Facebook about a beloved employer of many people who (I believe) totally screwed up my life with a bad decision. Instead of working on the novel, I found myself replaying the events of the distant past. I couldn’t say what he did on the Facebook page where he was mentioned, because it would: (a) not be received well, (b) open a can of worms, and (c) make people wonder how I could be this pissed off about the whole thing almost 50 years after it happened.

Memories are often like the sea, constantly shifting.

Some say that old men tend to do this. They (including me, I guess) are taught not to cry for most of their lives. Then, when they get old, they can no longer hold it in.

Do you do this? Do you happen to think about some unfairness out of the past and then, without warning, find yourself dwelling upon it as though it happened last week?

Or, is this just a disease saved for those of us who write novels?

I wish I could turn off such thoughts. They have no value unless I translate them into a novel, and they hurt me just as much in the present and they did when they happened. A psychologist would have a field day with this problem.

Then, too, when one thinks about such things logically, s/he can see that had things done the way one wanted them to in the past, a lot of wonderful things since then wouldn’t have happened. Well, there’s a guilt trip for you. This man’s actions cost me–through a domino effect of circumstances–the lady I was planning to marry. Had I done so, I would never have met my wife. Gosh, the old angst is not only a waste of time but a current-day guilt trip.

Most of the time, we can move on from those old slings and arrows, the people and jobs and lifestyles that “got away.” But from time to time, they rush back into our lives to haunt us. Really, I don’t need those ghosts in my life.

But they’re hard to get rid of. How do you handle such things?


4 thoughts on “Old slings and arrows: do they still bother you?

  1. Very thought-provoking post. I think it’s partly the curse of being an introvert, in that the best response to such a slight occurs hours, days, or years after the event, when it’s too late, so we keep replaying it and mentally acting out what we wish we’d said or done.

    While I get irritated remembering some misdeeds (such as a previous publisher who didn’t respond to a university’s questions about one of my books in time, or an old boss who got verbally abusive when I wouldn’t do something unethical) the old slight that haunts me the most was when someone I cared deeply about questioned my character. Nearly twenty after the fact, that one still hurts when I find myself ruminating about it.

    1. I hadn’t thought about the introvert part of the equation. All that replaying, of course, draws me into the past even deeper without having an impact on the evil-doers. I had a boss who lied about me in a staff meeting. The next day, first thing, I asked if I could speak with him. He said it would be a while. During that time, I packed up all the personal stuff in my office and carried it out to the car. Finally, he called a few minutes before 5 and said he had a few minutes. When I got to his office, I handed him a resignation letter. He asked how soon? I said “within the next few minutes”. He got really pissed off and said the company would never give me a good recommendation. My response was that he’d be finished running it into the ground within a few months (which turned out to be true) so I wasn’t worried about that. This is about the only time I came out fealing good about myself after a bad encounter with a boss. The rest of them still hury.

  2. It is the unfairness, perhaps, that rankles. I quite often hear my inner child whimper ‘it wasn’t my fault’ about some long-ago incident when I had to carry the can for something I hadn’t started, hadn’t wanted and hadn’t even risen to. I try very hard to forgive the people who have put me in that situation – then the incident recedes. Sometimes I find I have to forgive them more than once!

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