This night is filled with ghosts.
As perceptive individuals, perhaps we’re simply more in tune to their vibrations. We can feel their presence, even beneath the more pressing concerns of our day—our work, our relationships, financial worries, busy schedules. Under all of it, we feel them.
They sit with us in the shade of the park as we watch our children play. They ride shotgun with us as we’re driving to work, singing along to the radio so low that only we can hear. They take their places at our tables and lie down beside us in our beds.
So many ghosts.
Of the people we were. And the people we’ve lost. Of places we’ve been, the ones we called home and the ones that (who) just felt like it. Of lessons learned the hard way. And of love that never leaves our side, even when those we love leave us.
I sit here on a night filled with ghosts and wonder how we are able to bear it. I sit beside the younger me who entered a marriage with such promise and hope. Years later, I would leave it dry-eyed and much colder. And I lie in bed at night listening to the memory of a former lover’s steady breathing, though he’s been gone more months now than he was ever with me. Still, I sit in the dark feeling the love that has never left. Mine, of course, for him.
And it’s rare for me to sit silently with my ghosts.
So often, when they visit, we feel obliged to commune with them. We have all of the conversations that never actually took place. We tell our younger selves what they don’t yet know, trying to explain what they aren’t yet ready to see, trying to justify the choices we’ve made along the way. And we tell our former lovers how much we love them still, how empty the space beside us in life feels because they aren’t in it. We tell them how we long for them to say they’ve changed their minds, that they were wrong. Or to say sorry and mean it, for once.
We commune with them when they come to stay and still we’re left haunted by all that has gone before.
And sometimes we’re equally haunted by the future that never was and never will be. We play those out too when they visit—knowing all the while how fruitless the endeavor is each time.
What’s difficult to remember at times like these and on nights like this is that we are who we are in this moment because of all of our past selves and past loves—the places we’ve called home and the people who have touched our lives, however briefly. We’ve been created from all of the lives that have collided with our own, and we’ve survived every difficult thing we thought we never could. We’ve lived, and we’ve loved, and the fact that we keep on living and loving is beautiful and precious.
It can be difficult not to summon these ghosts from time to time, simply to revel in what was and what might have been—for a moment. And while doing this can interfere with our healing, it is sometimes necessary to open up our heart spaces to commune with those ghosts—for a moment. To feel whatever it is that we need to feel or to express whatever hidden truth that needs to be unearthed, before finally putting them to rest again.
I have moments of unearthing the love I still feel long enough just to say it—to say it in the darkness where he cannot hear it. Here I can acknowledge how I feel, because it’s important to express love even if the person I love doesn’t want to hear it. So I don’t say it to him. They would be wasted words. Instead, I send it out into the universe, hoping it finds somewhere safe to land. Or simply disappears into the stars above with all of the other whispered confessions in the night.
I open up my heart space for long enough to acknowledge my own feelings, and then I can rest with one less ghost at my side—for a moment.
Our ghosts, while deeply painful, are necessary. They are reminders of the lives we’ve lived. Or sometimes they are simply beacons to remind us that our hearts are filled with so much more strength than we often acknowledge. They are the breadcrumbs to help us find our way home. Because we have not lost any of those selves along the way. We’re still them, and they’re still us. And those we’ve loved and lost aren’t lost at all; we carry them with us.
They become a part of our story, and that story continues.
We don’t have to feel haunted by them. We can learn, instead, to feel blessed with the visits. We can use their presence in our lives as opportunities to learn more about who we are and what we want. We can commune with our ghosts in a way that gives us peace, even closure, instead of simply tormenting us with what’s gone.
On some days, of course, this will require digging into our reserves of gratitude to find our peace. And on some days, feeling anything like gratitude would be counter-productive for our healing. So we do whatever serves our soul, knowing that the ghosts visit us so that we can learn.
If we meet them in the places they visit us with open hearts instead of wounded ones, we can look for the lessons they bring.
We allow ourselves to experience the visits of Past, Present and Future in the same way as Ebenezer Scrooge once did with the desire in our hearts to grow from the encounter. We look for the reasons we’re haunted and find ways of laying each ghost to rest with grateful hearts.
So we may become that person we were always meant to be and to inhabit our lives with love instead of fear and regret, we meet our ghosts.
We greet them. We commune with them. Because they are our deepest, most authentic selves. And they have stories to tell us and lessons to teach us, if only we allow ourselves to listen.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Fabien Barral/ Unsplash
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren