There’s a difference between sweeping something under the rug and putting it on the mantle.
We will evade, deceive, or accuse when we want to avoid the truth. We sweep the piles under the rug to avoid the mess of a clean up. We might even equate it to cleaning. We’ll say we’re “moving on, leaving the past where it belongs, living in the now.” We might not want to admit the existence of those lumps. We get used to them and might not even notice them. But others in our lives, at least the ones we invite into our spaces and do everyday life with, either know no different or haven’t yet tripped and fallen.
Consider it to be like dirty laundry. Someone comes to your house, and you have dirty laundry that you end up throwing a rug over on the floor or tossing a blankets over on the couch. That creates limited seating, uncomfortable resting, and eventual tripping. We can healthily fold and put it away, doing a deeper clean every now and then and deciding what needs to be kept and what can be bagged and set aside. But sometimes the healthiest thing to do is leave it out for a while to talk about, be faced with, and invite others to live within the mess for a season. We all have laundry.
People will say it’s no one’s business. In some cases, that might be true, but we need to be attentive to the process of declaring that’s the case. Sometimes we’re simply deflecting, ignoring, deceiving (others and ourselves). We often use the opposite to exaggerate what we’re trying to avoid: “It’s private! I’m dealing with it. Just move on.” But leaving some piles of laundry in our everyday life isn’t the same and placing it on the mantle to make it one of the few things we’re willing to see or talk about. The more we refuse refuse to talk about something, the more it becomes an elephant in the room to some—not necessarily to the person trying to hide it. They somehow make it invisible in their own mind, but that doesn’t mean it is truly nonexistent.
We don’t have to talk about everything with everyone, but let’s be willing to have a civil conversation that’s respectful. Let’s keep an environment where we don’t avoid all risks—because the simple steps it takes to be emotionally and relationally healthy is never risk free—but also doesn’t set people up to trip or get bruised from trying to sit on all the lumps. Let’s acknowledge what is in our homes and hearts.
Moving forward isn’t pretending the past didn’t happen. It’s existing in the present and moving into the future with the acknowledgment we are always dealing with the past because it’s part of our today. We bring it with us. Let’s at least carry it forward with health.