We all have a future that we’re working to make better every day. We all have a present. But that also means that we all have a past.
Some pasts, though, are more terrifying than others and some pasts, are ones we want to keep buried.
But what do you do when you’re absolutely terrified that your past will come back to haunt you? What do you do when you aren’t prepared to deal with circumstances from your past in your present?
Find out what happened when I was confronted with this scary situation, the steps I took to overcome my fear and exactly what you should be doing if you’re afraid that someone, anyone will uncover the past you might have fought so hard to bury.
Full Transcript Below
If you’re anything like me, you spend hundreds of hours every week scrolling Google, Facebook and most of your social media. Or maybe you aren’t anything like me at all and this whole habit of mine means that I have a serious problem/ social media addiction and it’s time for me to get some help.
Either way, at some point, while looking through your feed, whether watching YouTube videos, blogs, or just scrolling through those inspirational quote pages like we all do, you’ve probably seen or heard inspirational quotes that say something like this: “be careful what you do now, as your past may come back to haunt you”, or some variation of that.
When we do think about it, if we’re going to be honest here, there are so many of us with pasts, that if people were to start digging around in them, could completely change our life as we know it, and could possibly even destroy the future that we’re trying to build, the reputation that we’ve worked so hard on and even the business deal we’re about to close.
I’ve done a number of things, and have said a number of things, bad things, horrible things in my past, that make me feel really glad that they’re exactly that- the past. But what do you do when you actually come face to face with something or someone from your past? Someone or something you were never really prepared to have to deal with them face to face in your present? What do you do when we’re afraid that your past will actually come back to haunt you?
Why do so many of us spend so much time, even hours upon hours trying to erase every trace of who we once were? Is it that we are afraid of people judging us based on our past indiscretions, maybe? Or is it that we are afraid that the things that people do find out can actually destroy us and we don’t want to take the risk?
Either way, I know that going through your past, can be a really embarrassing, stressful, annoying kind of thing. Because many of us want to believe, or at least I know, I want to believe that the things that I’ve done bad or good, once I have changed who I am, and have learned and have grown from them, will not be used against me in my present.
But even though I want to believe that this is true, I also have to come face to face with the fact
That the things that we have done in our past, the decisions we’ve made, actually have real life, sometimes scary consequences.
And whether we like to admit it or not, the consequences could come now. They could come 10 years from now, but they are still consequences. And for me, in my case, I had to deal with one of those consequences, or partial consequences a while back.
A few weeks ago, I took a trip back home to Jamaica. I wanted to surprise my parents, because I hadn’t seen them in two going on three years and with all the stress that was going on at work with different people having differences of opinions, you know, differences in culture and an overall semi-nervous breakdown because some really, really petty level things are going on, I decided that I needed to go back. I needed to be home and so I did.
But when I got there, I had to basically deal with the past that I had worked so hard to run away from when I moved to Japan three years ago. I had to come face to face with people, places, and situations that I thought and hoped that I had left behind for good.
When I came face to face with those very same people, I didn’t really know how to react. Because the things that I had done, were basically secrets that had been hovering over me, unknown to me since I had left. And because I hadn’t been brave enough to deal with those situations before I left home, there was a big feeling of discomfort going on in the jellies.
And on my second to last day in Jamaica, I was basically forced to deal with a moment from my past because a new season of my life was coming up and God doesn’t really allow us to step into new things when we still have old baggage going on in our life.
God doesn’t want us to step into our future when we are holding on to the struggles from our past. And so I had to come face to face with some very, very bad things that I had done while I was in a state of brokenness. And even though I say it was a state of brokenness, I still had to take complete responsibility for the things that I had done.
And I still had to admit to myself, that even though a part of me knew that it was wrong, a part of me also didn’t care. And a part of me wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t brave enough to say no to the situation, as it was unfolding at that time.
When when I first thought about coming to Japan, and this is me being very honest, and just kind of putting it all out there. When I first thought about coming to Japan, I didn’t really know what I was expecting to happen. I mean, I thought that I was coming here, to learn about new cultures, and to see the world that I had never seen before, and to come into contact with people and places that I had only dreamed of being able to come into contact with.
But deep down, if I’m being completely honest, I was looking to escape my past. I was looking to get rid of all the baggage, all the chains, and just everything that at the moment was going wrong with my life.
I had been divorced for a while, and I had been trying so hard to start over from scratch.
But I just wasn’t able to because everywhere I went, and everybody I saw reminded me of all the pain that I had been going through. Every time they looked at me with pity, they reminded me of that horrible past that I was trying so desperately to throw away. They thought that I was a poor thing, they would feel sorry for me, and no matter what I did, my story would constantly be hanging over my head.
And no matter how hard I swam, to try to get to the surface of the water, to try to breathe, I was surrounded by so many people who knew what had happened, who knew me at my most vulnerable stages, who knew me when I had to start over again, who knew that I had to run and hide from the police and hide from harassment, who knew that I could not have a normal life again.
Because of what had happened, it just became too much for me and coming to Japan was my way of, you know, escaping, because my broken relationship had basically ruined my life as I saw it, or at least that’s what I thought.
You see, it’s so funny how somebody else’s indiscretions, somebody else’s sin, somebody else’s bad decisions, can leave a heavy coat of shame on you. And for me living in Jamaica was that cloak of heavy shame for me. And there was nowhere I could go. There was no place I could move to in Jamaica, that would enable me to get rid of that shame.
Everything I did felt like I was taking a million steps in the wrong direction.
For me, now was the time to escape because it was basically life or death. Now was the only time for me to run away from my problem because I thought that running away from my problems would solve those problems, and would give me a chance to start over again from scratch, to start fresh to be the person that I always wanted, always dreamed of becoming.
And so I applied for the JET Program and I started saving. Then I boarded a plane and I ran away tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of miles away to Japan to get away from the past. And to get away from all the judgmental eyes, all the poor things and all the looks of despair and disappointment or sympathy that were surrounding me at a time.
And for a bit, I thought that I was doing really, really well at hiding my past. I thought that I had been able to create a whole new persona for myself like I was now Daeyna Jackson.
On the island, I actually pretty well at my job. I started a blog, and I was connecting with people online and was really beginning to make a name for myself. Until one day, a voice inside my head, you know crazy as that sounds, told me to stop.
The voice told me to stop running. It told me to stop pretending. It told me to stop hiding. Because no matter how hard you try to hide from your past, it will be uncovered eventually.
Instead of hiding from your past, you have to learn how to deal with your past. The still small voice told me that I needed to take a step back and look at the things that I had gone through, the things that I had been through, that I had experienced through a fresh pair of eyes.
Because all this time, I was just seeing my past and seeing my problems as something to run away from. I was just seeing all those situations that I had been through as embarrassing Scarlet letters, embarrassing periods of my life that nobody needed to know about, that nobody needed to find out about.
If they did, then that would change how people saw me, that would change how people saw this newly confident girl who was ready to take on the world. And they would see that I had had insecurities, I had made bad decisions. I had been a whole other person before coming here. And if they knew that about me, if they knew that I had cracks, if they knew that I was basically human, then I would lose their support, I would lose their adoration, and I’d most definitely be rejected. I would be criticized for something that had to be in instead of what was right now.
And for you, you know, you might not have gone, you know, as far as to put tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of miles between yourself and your past. But think about it for a second. Think about everything that you have gone through whether it is that you had been abused as a child, or you had made some wrong decisions, you know, you were promiscuous, you use drugs, you drank alcohol, you did and made a lot of mistakes, or decisions that lead you down the wrong path.
But what about that? Are you hiding? Are you really transparent about what you’ve been through? Or are you afraid that if your spouse, if your friends, if you’re a boss, if your coworkers knew who you might have been, then you will lose your job, or you will lose your marriage? Or you will lose the respect of the people around you?
What is it about yourself that you’re hiding? Because you’re afraid that people will reject you for it? What secret or what secrets do you carry around with you every single day, constantly looking over your shoulder? Or a secret that you swear no one else will know about until you die?
I can only imagine how painful that must be for you. That secret must be heavy on you. I should know because I carried my own secrets around for years. And the more I carried them around, the more I tried to hide them, the more I tried to bury them, the heavier they all felt.
It just felt like I was always carrying our own a five-pound, twenty-kilogram suitcase of rice on my back, and I could never put it down because I was afraid that the moment I put that suitcase down, somebody else might see it.
Someone else might peek inside. Someone else might get curious, start digging, and then my entire life would fall apart.
You see, I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know about you. I don’t know what secrets you’re carrying around or have carried around on your own. But I know that me carrying around, you know my past as a secret, me carrying around the bad decisions I had made as a secret, me carrying around the real reason I left Jamaica as a secret was such a burden that it made me cry sometimes.
There were nights when I would sit down and I would feel the weight on my shoulders, and I would cry because I was so exhausted. I was so so tired of carrying it but didn’t have anywhere to put it. I was so tired of you know, harbouring the fearing that someone would find out about who I was, that I just couldn’t dare, I couldn’t risk putting it down.
And because of all of that pressure that I was under, because of all of that fear that I was carrying around all the time, I could do nothing but cry. I could do nothing but suffer in silence. I could do nothing but be afraid and continue to carry that suitcase.
And like I said, I know they’re not the biggest of secrets. And no, they’re not the darkest of secrets. But they still scarred me for so long. And I can only imagine that the secrets you are carrying around, that your past might be scarring you too.
You see, I was afraid that if people knew that I was once addicted to porn for years, that they wouldn’t see me as a Christian or they wouldn’t see me as being Christian enough.
I was afraid that if people knew that I had done some very bad things when I was going through my divorce, that they would look down on me, they wouldn’t feel any empathy for me anymore, they would just judge me and think that I was being just as horrible a person as my ex was. And for a while, I agreed that yeah I was just as bad.
Because I was just so hurt, so dead inside and so desperately to be loved, that I would try to find love in the worst places. And bless God that He saved me. Bless God that I am not who I was, and I am not where I was.
But I want to tell you that your past does not have to define you. You don’t have to be afraid of your past coming back to haunt you.
If you are able to embrace your past if you’re able to say that you know what, at one point, I did make some very bad mistakes. At one point, I wasn’t the nicest person. At one point, I did go down that rabbit hole of sin and despair and, desperation and depression. And I did do some very bad things.
But you know what? I have learned, I have grown, I have become a whole new person.
Had I not gone through those struggles in my past, had I not been that person at some point. I wouldn’t be here right now, to be able to talk to you and to help you. And to show you that you are not your past. I wouldn’t be able to speak to you and to tell you that even at your darkest point, even when things aren’t going well there is hope.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
And you might be feeling like your past is just too dark for people to know about. You might be feeling that you’ve just come too far and you’ve spent too much time covering up and making up for your past to be comfortable letting people know about it.
You might believe that no clients will ever want to work with you. No person will ever want to invest in your business because you failed so many times in your past, and you have given up so many times in your past.
Or you might be thinking that your entire reputation, the one that you have worked so hard for so long to build, will come crashing down in an instant if the world ever knew anything about what you were or who you were in the past.
But I’m here to tell you, with love, that you’re wrong.
Though we do honestly live in a society, of outing people on social media. I know about cancel culture and people who have been cancelled, and basically punished for their past. Though I am aware of this, I truly don’t believe that crucifying someone because of their past mistakes, especially if they have worked really hard to make up for them and they are better for those mistakes, is really worth it.
Yes, I do believe that if you have done something in the past, then the consequences will come, unfortunately. But I don’t think that even if you do go through those consequences, or you experienced them, that that should be used to say that you are a horrible person.
You might have been a horrible person. You might have done questionable things. But that doesn’t make you a bad person now.
And I believe that there are millions and millions of people all over the world, from many different backgrounds who would agree with me.
Because if that were the case then that would mean that we could never come back from our past, or that our past was the only thing that defined us, and if that were true then no one, absolutely no one who is a human being born and raised, would have the right to do anything with their lives.
We’ve all sinned, and we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. Yet somehow, someway, because of some circumstances, here we are. We are alive and we are well, and we are able to go on and to do better now.
Every day that you wake up, you have a new chance to do better in spite of your past. Look at me, I have attempted suicide three separate times. I wanted to die because I was so so tired of living. Yet here I am to tell you the story. And I will tell that suicide story in a later episode.
I bet you never thought that I would be brave enough to say that because not many people who are coaches, who are in the spotlight or who are talking about offering advice to other people would admit that they themselves have thought about ending it all, that they themselves have given up to the point of suicide.
One of the Bible’s greatest men who ever lived Paul. He did wonders of the Kingdom of God,
he converted many people to Christianity, and he fought such a good fight. But in his past, he was one of the biggest oppressors of Christians who ever lived. He hated Christians. And he would do everything in his power to oppress maybe even kill them if he could.
Some of the greatest and the mightiest kings and queens committed unspeakable acts or came from really crappy backgrounds. That did not change the impact that they had on the world. In fact, as I’m sitting here, I can say that, when I look back on my past, and I look back over my life, I can smile.
Even though my life has been rough; some parts were storms. And though I might not be 100% proud of my actions, I am genuinely thankful for the experiences, and for the lessons, and for all the things I’ve been able to do and experience, and all people I’ve been able to help because of my past experiences.
So I am proud of my past, because of all the fantastic lessons that I’ve learned, all the people I’ve met, and for the person that I have become today, and I’m still evolving into tomorrow. Whenever I look back, I am absolutely awestruck at how far I have come.
All the trials I’ve been able to overcome. And everything I’ve been able to do with my life in such a short time. God is good. And life, my life and your life can only continue to go up from here. I mean, I have been through the wringer and so have you and we have survived.
Anything else life throws at us, I am most definitely sure that we can handle. So even if your life or even if you’re afraid that your past might come back to haunt you, don’t be afraid of that. Instead, take a trip down memory lane, really look at everything that you’ve gone through along the timeline of your life, and just be proud that you are not that person anymore.
Be proud of who you have become.
Be proud of the life you’re building.
If you’re in that place right now, you’re in that phase where you’re still stuck in that mess, and you are saying, you know, there’s no hope for you. There’s no tomorrow for you. There’s no possibility of you being better. Stop thinking like that. Because I’m telling you, there is still hope.
Once you have today, once you have tomorrow, because we have today, and because we have tomorrow, there is still hope for you. There is an opportunity for you to turn things around.
You just have to try. You just have to decide that today I’m going to be a better person. Today, I want to do more for myself. Today, I want to use my past as an enormous stepping stone for a better future. Today, I want to use my mistakes. I want to use my circumstances. I want to use every single thing that I have been through as a way to be better and maybe even help other people change their lives too.
Because you know what? You are not alone.
You are not the only person who has messed up.
Maybe it’s time to open up about it to someone. Even to me, I’m always here to listen. You never know what kind of person could be waiting on your story for a breakthrough in their life.
You never know if the things that you have been through could save someone else who is on the brink of jumping off that mountain because they feel so alone.
So stop carrying that sack of rice. Stop carrying your secrets around. It’s time to stop being afraid of your past and start embracing it.
This is Dee and you have been listening to She Is A Mess.