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The Ghosts of My Past

My emotions come at me in waves. Often I’m strong enough to withstand them – to hold the ship steady – but every now and then they catch me with my shields down. I’m swept away. 

That happened the other day when the movers came in to pack everything up. Seeing my whole life packed into boxes. That was difficult. 

But the hardest moment came after they had gone. When I was left all alone in an empty apartment, the place we’d called home for the past four years. 

And I could see it all at once. I could see the first time we brought my eldest son home from the hospital. I could picture my youngest taking his first steps across the living room floor. All the heart to hearts with my wife, sat exhausted on the sofa after a long day. 

The ghosts of my past were everywhere to be seen.

Yet, my present had already packed up and left. Waiting for me in Singapore while I see out the remaining 3 months of my contract here in Hong Kong.

It was then that the sheer enormity of the decision we’d made hit me. It was then that the real ghosts of my past started screaming. Telling me I’ve made a huge mistake, that I don’t what I’m doing, that I’m weak for not having put up with everything.

Here we go again, I thought. The voices in my head that never let up. The voices that have haunted me for so long.

Part of me worried that maybe, underneath it all – behind the politics, the toxic work culture, the endless days of quarantine – the real reason for leaving is a futile attempt to try and outrun these ghosts. Hoping I would somehow be able to leave them behind when I leave myself.

For the longest time I thought the voices telling me to leave were those ghosts. So, I figured the path to salvation was staying put. I figured I had to stay the course.

But I know that’s not true. I know it was my ghosts that kept me frozen in fear for so long.

The funny thing is, now that the decision is made, it seems, in some strange sense, the louder they scream the surer I am. Yet, they still scream, they still kick.

Thankfully I know my ghosts well. l know, more often than not, they appear in a desperate attempt to mask some deeper pain beneath the surface. I also know that trying to outrun them is a mistake.

So, I think, a better question isn’t how to stop your ghosts from appearing, but how to see through them when they do. To do that, you have to hold them in your heart.

To see through the ghosts of your past you have to accept them as they are.

After torturing myself for a while that day I sat down in middle of that empty apartment and took some time to let my ghosts be. Slowly but surely the voices started to quell.

Slowly but surely the real pain my ghosts were masking began to surface: Grief.

Of course, the only way to process grief is to let your shields downs. The only way to process grief is to let your emotions sweep you away. So, that’s what I did.


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28 thoughts on “The Ghosts of My Past

  1. I received this in my Inbox this morning from Notes from the Universe: “Have you ever noticed, Tamara, that there’s really only one thing you can do to unquestionably change the scenery in your life?

    Physically move through it.
    To the fast lane,

    The Universe”

    Transition times bring great uncertainty, but the only way to know for certain if we made the right choices for ourselves is to step forward into our new stage of life. Blessings to you!

  2. Grief comes when we make a big change. The future is unknown and so we grieve because the past is known. it seems safe. Once you begin the new part of your life it will be easier.

    1. Thank you. Yes grief is a necessary process. It’s about letting go so we can move forward. I’ve no doubt when my feet hit the ground in Singapore I’ll be all guns blazing! 🙏

  3. Can you allow the “ghosts” to be remembrances of things past; some good, some uncomfortable, but all are part of our story. This is a new chapter in your story. I am a reflective person, this is a vital part of who I am. In going forward to the next chapter, Singapore, new memories, new chapters, enriching your lexicon! Robyn

    1. Oh indeed. I take solace in the fact that it wouldn’t be so sad if hadn’t been so happy. There are good memories behind and ahead. Thank you Robyn. 🙏

  4. I think you did the right thing David. The little voices are your ego that wants to protect you but your intuition guided you through what was best for you and your family. First taking the decision to move, then accept your ghosts and let them go in silence. In French they have a beautiful expression that I wish you David, bon courage.

    1. A tough decision for sure. But it feels like a weight has been lifted. I’ve no doubt we won’t regret it. Thank you Cristiana 🙏

  5. Thank you for the courage it must have taken to bare your soul. You touched my heart.Godspeed on your journey—in whatever form it takes. 💕

  6. This is brilliant, AP2! How often I have tried to silence the voices without listening to them, getting to know them and then finding out who they really are and honoring that. Beautiful post that resonates with me so deeply. Good luck on the move and the next 3 months as you finish out your contract, my friend!

    1. So true. You can only put off those difficult emotions for so long before they catch up with you. Thank you Betul 🙏

  7. I know a lady that was in a similar situation a few months ago, she lost her husband and she had to leave her children in her country to move to another country to seek employment, she is still unemployed. It’s hard reality, and she is still trying to cope with her present moment. I pray for her and for everyone else that’s going through tough times.

  8. Change is hard. Even when moving on from a sucky situation. I’ve recently changed workplaces and I’m still struggling with the ‘ghosts’ of my old workplace despite (or maybe because of) how incredibly bad it was for my mental health.
    Good luck with the move. I hope the time before you can catch up with your family is okay for you all.

    1. We get attached to what know – regardless as to whether it’s good or bad. Mental and physical health is a major reason for the change myself. Wishing you all the best too E. Thank you for your kind words 🙏

  9. I can relate to your grief, AP! When you rejoin your family in Singapore and begin your new life together, the ghosts will likely recede and bother you much less often over time.

    To me, home is more the ones we love than a place. Cherish the good memories of the past. Enjoy the new adventure. Wishing you health, happiness and success! <3

    1. Home is most definitely where our loved ones are. I think I find being here much harder because my wife and kids are already in Singapore. I’m more than ready to meet them there! Thank you for your kind words Cheryl. Wishing you all the very best 😊❤️

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