Merriam Webster defines nostalgia as a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. We’ve all experienced nostalgia at some point. Personally, back-to-school time and Christmas always evoke nostalgia in me. During these times of year, I feel like I did as a child; excited, eager, full of hope and Christmas magic.
Nostalgia is a double-edged sword for me, though. While I love most nostalgic feelings, I believe nostalgia can be heavily romanticized. Often times I find myself reminiscing about the past and remembering only the good. Very rarely do I remember the negative aspects of whatever event I’m mentally reliving.
Five years ago I was going through a divorce. It was,by far, one of the most horrible times in my life. I was in my twenties, had a three year old child, and was enrolled in graduate school. Though unavoidable, becoming a divorcee and single mom was not part of my plan. Eventually the shock of the trauma began to fade and I was able to look back on the divorce with a clearer, less emotional mindset.
I soon found myself remembering all the good that my marriage had bore. I felt nostalgic for my former life; my husband, my house, my white picket fence. Through journaling and some long, hard work in therapy I realized what I was doing; mourning and romanticizing the past.
I’m now able to look back at the good and appreciate the marriage for what it was. I was Blessed to have been given a son from my marriage, and for a time I was deeply in love with my ex-husband. I no longer neglect to acknowledge the negative, though. The lying, cheating, substance abuse issues, and job instabilities were all very seriously threatening issues to both the safety of my son and myself.
All in all, nostalgia is a wonderful feeling. I just have to be careful lest I get carried away and romanticize away actual facts.