Recently I had the pleasure of lunch with two friends. One was someone I'd known since college, the other a former student I've known a few years. The difference between the two was more than age and gender, it was attitude. Between them I've been pondering things a lot.
You see the college friend had a difficult childhood and since then he's seen himself as a survivor. As a matter of fact, he spent time during lunch trying to convince me that he'd had a horrible time in college: no one was as poor, friendless, fish-out-of-watery as he was. My take? Others had as difficult a time, perhaps in different ways, but difficult just the same. But that attitude spills out into his adult life, and often his blog posts reflect it (though he is trying to get better!).
My student friend has had a difficult time in a different way. Her attitude is "that's the past, and I'm over it." She's taken what lessons she can from what's happened and is moving on to more interesting things. She hopes.
I know (because he basically told me) that college friend thinks I had an easy time of it - au contraire. My childhood was not easy (one could argue that my adulthood has not been easy, either), and there are many people (and events) that caused long-lasting pain. But I've worked hard to overcome this and at this remove, I've managed to forget most of them.
My student friend agrees that this is the best revenge: the past has no power over me because I've forgotten them. When I told my college friend about this revelation, he seemed skeptical. I hope, truly hope, that he manages to get to this point in his life - he's got a girlfriend, his hobbies are making him happy, and his life seems to be heading in the right direction.
Me? I'm continuing to declutter my mental life and drop those things that I haven't managed to forget.