Ghosts of the Past

“Reality denied comes back to haunt.”  Philip K Dick

I had a person I was extremely close to tell me “I don’t have any trauma.”  She was literally the archetype of a dark triad narcissist, displayed every single symptom of CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and later had multiple affairs simultaneously while denying she was cheating.  Her traumas repeatedly manifested itself in her “self-sabotage” (her own words in a moment of self-clarity), addictive actions, and attention seeking behaviors.  But she denied any traumas despite her history.  Even when she was caught, she denied the reality of the situation. 

Dr. Gabor Mate called his book about addiction “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” because of how the past haunts the present.  Our experiences shape us but do not dictate our future.  The children of abusive alcoholic parents may perpetuate that cycle, or they may break it.  Denying the emotional damage means that it cannot be healed, whereas being able to acknowledge the pain allows for understanding and acceptance of the past to exorcise the demons that could possess for another generation.

The Catholic Church has endorsed the forgiveness of sins since its earliest days, through confession.  Recognizing that one has done wrong and admitting it is the critical first step towards reconciliation, with the self and others.  Denying what happened never leads to forgiveness, neither from above nor from within.