Keeping the past from entering the present...
I always am amazed at human interest stories which show people from someone's past trying to find that "long-lost" person with whom they've lost contact. Granted there are some very touching and nice endings to some of these stories. It lifts the human spirit to see family and friends reunited especially if they had been separated by circumstances beyond their control.
But, and this is a serious but, I firmly believe that there are some people who simply do not want to be reunited with those from their pasts. This is especially true if you have deliberately chosen to put certain people out of your life for a specific reason. My belief is that if something in your life wasn't working, (and that includes any kind of relationships),you had every right to discard what was making you miserable and make positive changes.
The institution of social networking has made it easier to find old friends, distant relatives, old school mates, and people with you have worked. In some ways this is a good thing. I was able to locate my first journalism mentor and we have happily kept in touch. However, the social network has also caused some unpleasant problems for people.
A few weeks ago my friend Cassandra* was stopped in her tracks by a Facebook message. Someone from her past wanted to get in touch with her. This person didn't contact her directly; Cassandra uses her married name on Facebook. Queries were sent to relatives and friends asking for information on Cassandra. No one responded to the request and all called Cassandra to tell her about it.
Cassandra was angered by this Facebook request. She hadn't seen or spoken to this person since she was 21 and that was over 10 years ago. She had absolutely no intention of ever having anything to do with that person again.
Though she wouldn't talk about it, it was tacitly understood that this person was someone from a particularly bad time in Cassie's life. The person had been heavily into drugs and had cost Cassie a great deal of pain. Having begun a new life after college, Cassandra had determined to put the past behind her. She'd been successful until now.
As a graphic artist, Cassie's Facebook page is a professional one. Along with her new married name she is careful with her security settings. The public view is one that only shows business-related posts. The only way anyone could try to find her would be through family members or past mutual friends.
Cassandra is not the same woman she was 10 years ago. Married, running a successful business, and living in another state, she refuses to have her past intrude into her present life. She told everyone to ignore any and all requests or to simply block them. She wants nothing to do with the pain from her past. It's the right choice for her.
While some people feel that we should face the past and possibly forgive those who have caused us trauma and pain there are others like me who feel differently. You can, and should, choose who you want in your life. You do not have to forgive anyone who has been cruel; you're not a bad person if you don't forgive no matter what celebrities may say. Facebook doesn't automatically give anyone the right to expect to be welcomed by you into your personal life. It doesn't work that way. Cassandra told me that her past is past and opening the door leading backwards is not an option for her.
As a social network, as a solid connection between family and good friends, and as a chance to meet others, Facebook and other networks serve a purpose. I use it and love it. But, it should stop there. All things considered, it is your life and you are in charge of it. You owe it to yourself to live the way you want to live.
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is a fantastic Lifestyle journalist who writes for many media outlets, including The Huffington Post and OWN. She is also the author of the top-selling book, And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First