The past came knocking at the door this week. My girlfriend and I share a history that goes back more than four years. Over that time, we both behaved in ways that were indicative of who we believed we were, not who we really are. And occasionally, the past makes an appearance, a full array of baggage in tow, to help us move beyond some of the trust issues we have.

I don’t often feel hospitable when it shows up. Instead, I’d rather slam the door and turn up the stereo, ignoring the incessant knocking. Pretending it’s not there. Resisting its presence.

Evidently, my default is still believing that conversation about it will lead to hurt feelings and some kind of separation. I’m working on understanding that it comes up to be cleared out and that every time we’ve opened the door, our relationship has ended up stronger.

In this last go round, we revisited certain choices each of us had made that hurt the other. “Everyone talks about forgiveness,” she said. “Forgiveness is easy. It’s letting go that’s hard, and no one talks about that.”

Her words hovered like a cloud covering me for the rest of the day. How do you forgive, yet not forget, but still let go? No matter which direction I took my thoughts, I couldn’t find an answer. It wasn’t until I stopped looking that I realized the question itself was ridiculous.

The reason “letting go” seems so hard is because we tell ourselves that if we “forget” that we’ll eventually find ourselves in the same situation, experiencing the same emotions – pain, betrayal, deceit – that we did the first time. The drive not to feel that way again is what makes it seem difficult to let go. But the whole line of thinking is faulty.

It’s impossible to experience a situation similar to the one that required your forgiveness in the same way you did in the original circumstance. It’s impossible that you are the same person. And if you are not the same, you cannot possibly experience anything in the same way.

You certainly can believe you can. You can stay connected to the perceptions and beliefs that enabled the original experience to occur. You can listen to ego chanting in your ear that this is a repeat, that you were stupid enough to find yourself in the same place again. But the laws of physics defy this theory – nothing remains in stasis. It’s impossible. It’s merely attachment to perception and belief that makes it feel like it’s the same.

The trick is finding a way to remember the truth, to trust that you’ve changed, that you’re not the same person you were then. The entire “forgive but don’t forget” mantra is nothing but ego drivel designed to keep you locked in a past that made you miserable. To keep you swirling in the fear of being hurt again so you can’t see that it’s not even possible.

So, I’m working on remembering the truth. I am not the same person I was when these events occurred between us and neither is she. Both of us are committed to releasing the lies we’ve told ourselves that created the patterns and habits that caused so much pain. Now if we could be as committed to acknowledging where we have.

Author's Bio: 

Staci is a spiritual explorer who's logged over 10,000 hours examining ego and thought. She's the author of seven books, including ego: A Primer, and the novel Where Fat Girls Haven't Gone. Learn more at