Step by Step - Out of the Past, Into the Future

We have heard it so many times―You just have to get over the past. It’s an easy enough statement to make, but not so simple to do. For years I have stated, and even included in my book the admonition, “The past is for learning from, not living in.” But the truth is, the very fact it took place means the past will always be a part of us. What we choose to do with it, what effects we allow it to have upon us, those comprise a great dilemma. For many of us it’s a matter of choices and decisions. For others it may be a step (or leap) of faith. How do we set the past aside?

It is humanly impossible to change the past, but it is achievable to overcome it, to learn from it and apply those lessons to make the present more bearable, and perhaps even find a portion of joy and empowerment.

The past for me holds a little 7-year-old girl in its grip, subjecting her to years of sexual molestation. It increased its hold, squeezing even tighter when it moved me into over 16 years of emotional abuse

and eventually domestic violence.

For all of us, the past at some point in time was our present. When I was enduring inappropriate treatments, it was impossible to find any positive purpose within them. I was being molested. I was being battered. Where’s the good in that?

Propped up with my minimal faith, the day I made a decision to get past the past, I found something waiting there―my present. I was no longer a product of what had taken place years before, but rather, came to a great realization that who I was could only be found in the present moment. What a joyous day when I understood my valuation is not based upon what had been perpetrated upon me, or even the poor choices I had made throughout my life. What I learned from prior years could be rotated and turned into a teaching tool and method of encouragement and inspiration to others who find their present holds them in what I had finally overcome from my past. The very fact I learned how to co-exist with the presence of my past in my “now” has become the basis of my passionate dedication and determination to extend a hand of assistance and a word of encouragement to victims of today. We may never fully escape our past, but we can file it in its proper place, learn from it, use it to help others and never let it hold us back again.

Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her website:

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