I had a great childhood but my transition to adolescence was terrible to say the least. I isolated myself and had none of the normal adolescent behaviors, had very few friends and spent most of my time studying. This situation worsened when I went to college because I didn’t get in the course I wanted. I did what I had to do and succeeded in graduating with honors but never had a normal social life. Only at the age of 27 did I manage to straighten out my personal/love/sex life. Now I have a new girlfriend but the tales of her past relationships have rekindled the regret and emptiness from my past. I’ve been having serious trouble accepting that I wasted all those years of my life and sometimes I give in to despair…I don’t know what to do and have talked long hours to a friend in whom I trust and she told me that the past is in the past and that what should do is move on. Logically this makes sense and I am a man of science but I can’t move on, I keep having these weird feelings of regret, guilt towards myself and then detachement towards my girlfriend given her past…my head is full with all these images that make no sense whatsoever. I am the one to blame, I was the one who made the mistake of being alone and isolated from 17 to 27, I am the one who needs to change. I don’t need to talk, I need a solution… Thank you for your time. (age 32, from Portugal)Trouble Dealing with My Own Past
Trouble Dealing with My Own Past
Sometimes talking is the way to find the solution. I appreciate that you have talked at length to a friend about the issues and she has given you good advice, but as you can see, that is not always enough. I would recommend that you take it one step further and talk with a therapist. It sounds like you might be experiencing some depressive feelings which could account for the guilt, regret and detachment. Seeking help from a professional can help you not only “move on” from the past, but find benefit in the experiences. Working through the past in a way that you can learn and grow from is different than just rehashing it and feeling bad about lost opportunities. You may benefit from the book Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro.
I also encourage you to find ways to engage in the “here and now.” Sure, lots of people enjoyed their teens and twenties, but I have met just as many people who were late bloomers and found much more enjoyment in later stages of life. Much can be learned from the Buddhist philosophy that the past is over and the future has yet to arrive, so the only thing that is real is the present moment.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts