Advice: My Family Keeps Dragging Up My Past


Dear Mel:
My family won’t let my past stay in the past. I was young and stupid and did things I now regret. That was over 10 years ago! I’ve been clean and sober almost 10 years but some family members think I’m still that same girl and they treat me like crap and bring it up like it happened yesterday or like I’m still a user. What do I do? My mom is one of these people. You’d think she’d be happy for me but she’s not.
~Cleaned Up My Act ~

Dear Cleaned Up My Act:
It sounds like it’s time to have a sit down with each family member and talk this out. I might suggest doing it individually so that you don’t end up feeling ganged up on. Explain to them that while you did have a sordid past, it’s in the past and you have grown-up and moved on and they need to move on from that too.

Stay calm and only state the facts. Ask them to forgive you for your past and to please let you now live in the present. Pray fervently before you approach them to ask to meet together and more so before the meeting. If they are also believers, ask to open in prayer before you start talking.

I am praying your family can see who you are now and not who you were.

In Him,


 * Legal disclaimer: Dear Mel is not professional advice but for entertainment purposes only. Melinda Todd, nor her readers, is not legally liable for actions taken by participating parties. Professional help should always be sought. Dear Mel is opinion only. The advice is not legal, medical, or otherwise and is not  to replace advice from a doctor, attorney, or other legal authority.

*Dear Mel is an old column. No longer accepting submissions for dear Mel. You are welcome to email me with any question though!



  1. Well put, Mel. It’s sickening that some families make you choose between them and real healing. Sometimes you need to “divorce” your family (i.e., avoid them for a period of time) to allow yourself to heal.
    Joe Sewell recently posted..The Capped Idol of Copeland-Hagin, Part 7: More on the Image of God

    • Absolutely. I have had to do that and even had to do so recently. Some folks don’t want us to be happy so they stir the drama pot in order to bring us to their level. Sometimes we have to learn to let go and love from afar while God works on their hearts. Tough stuff!

  2. Lost and Found Lady

    I’m a complete stranger. Yup. Yet, I can totally enjoy your ten year sobriety. Thank You Lord for touching Cleaned-Up’s heart and life! This put a big smile on my face here in Los Angeles.


    You hear about the statistics. I need to hear about you. Addiction can be overcome. You prove that God is able to release folks from this. I’m grateful!

    You’re sharing your victory here. If I shared that I’m a survivor of domestic violence, do I get recognition? From some who understand, absolutely. THere’s a lot of people who shake their heads that I made this life partner choice and didn’t perceive who I was marrying.

    Here’s a metaphor that might illustrate things. I use it. If you have a mountain that starts at sea level and rises 15,000 feet, that looks impressive. If that same mountain rises from the ocean floor, the tip of the mountain may be above the waves. From sea level, it may appear to someone else like a tiny island. It’s only the people who look deeper who can see the whole mountain.

    Again, I love the fact that your life is so blessed! Awesome, awesome sharing!

  3. Your writer has gotten some great advice – and is most likely getting some great prayer support too!

    My family has never accepted that I am not the person I was when I was living at home, and who I used to be. I’m a totally different person now. But they can’t see it. My wise husband gave me a really good illustration as to why. I’ll share it with you.

    Everyone has an image of a person, from some single point in their life. It is like a snapshot, but like a photo, it is not living and it does not change. If you picture your friend as they were in grade school you won’t be able to relate to them as parents. If your parents and family have an image of you from your past that they always bring up when they ‘picture’ you they won’t be able to see you as you are now because they are more comfortable and familiar with the old one.

    Some people are threatened when we heal and change, when we are in recovery we can be a threat. They like things to stay the same, they like to be in familiar ground and feel like the old you they know is easier to deal with than letting to of the past and getting to know you again.

    I would suggest, and this is what I did, have a dinner or a party that celebrates a milestone for you, bring your new friends and share about your new life 10 years clean. If they don’t come that is their choice, and you should feel okay setting some prayerfully considered boundaries. You need it for your health and continued healing and growth, and they need to know you can not only set them but enforce them.

    If you wish to chat further you can message me via Mel. I encourage and celebrate you, and i’m praying for you.
    Shanyn recently posted..Soli Deo Gloria

    • Shanyn, those are wise words from your hubby. Isn’t that true? I still picture my brother at about 10 years old and he’s 30! Course I don’t treat him like he’s 10 unless he needs it 😉 That’s an interesting illustration though. Good advice too 🙂

  4. That was one great tip. If you got over that sordid past, so should they. However, the problem is that we adults tend to hold on to our preconceptions over others. Their impression of you is the person you are years ago, and it can really be annoying and disappointing to know that even after you’ve proven time and again that you have changed.

    I guess they should heed the word of the soothsayer in Kung Fu Panda 2: “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be…”.

    Those movies for kids are really great in imparting valuable life lessons, right?
    Eugene recently posted..guitar learning software

    • Great quote! Love it when the kid shows say something so profound that we ALL need to hear! Thanks for the wise advice Eugene!

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