I sprained my ankle pretty badly last week. (It’s kind of a tragic story involving falling down the stairs, taxi cabs who wouldn’t stop for me, and walking a mile on an injury.) So I’m sitting at home and I’m feeling bored and restless and cranky. The most exciting part of my day is when I take the elevator one floor to my mailbox. It reminds me of another period of my life when I went through a similar thing.
In 2007 I was living with my parents in North Carolina and the highlights of my week were going to Blockbuster, the library, and the chiropractor. Those rituals were the only times I left the house, other than to do errands for my mom.
Here’s a little excerpt from my journal almost exactly three years ago:
I’m stressed but not stressed and I just feel like crying. I feel like I can’t do anything. And I wake up each day just wanting the day to be over because when it’s over I can relax and lose myself in television.
I was so restless and sad and lonely. And being housebound today is bringing up all those old feelings for me again. Even though this time is different – I have many friends, a great community, people stopping by to see me, my own place – the feelings are coming up so they can be healed.
Tears are pricking my eyes as I write this because I really had a horrible time when I lived at home – not because I fought with my parents, but because it just wasn’t where I belonged. I was a fish out of water – all my friends had moved away and I wasn’t plugged into a community. I’ve wanted to forget those feelings, and say, “Whatever, that’s not how my life is now, so it doesn’t matter.” But it does matter. I may be able to brush all that aside most days of the year, but you bet your bottom dollar an event (like a sprained ankle) will trigger me and it will all come flowing to the surface. It’s practically a guarantee. I think we’re confronted with things like this just so we can look at our past and release it. So we are given the opportunity to make peace with our past selves.
I didn’t have any local friends then and that’s ok. The most exciting part of my day was watching television at night and that’s ok. Everything that happened is ok. What happened is what happened and what happened is alright. I don’t have to regret the past or shut the door on it. I don’t have to justify it either. It just was what it was.
At this point I could launch the trite diatribe about how the past shapes the future and I couldn’t be the person I am today without experiencing the past and it would all be true. (That’s why it’s trite!) But I won’t. Because really, the most important thing is that I feel peace with what happened. It wasn’t good or bad even though my ego will tell you otherwise. It just was.
And so I’m coming to a place where I can accept not just my present, but my past. Where I can recognize it for what it was – a period of rest and recuperation. A time when I could wake up late and watch TV and read books without feeling guilty about other things I “should” be doing. It was exactly what I needed even if it wasn’t what I wanted. Today I have the hindsight to see that.
I dream of a world where we all make peace with where we are and where we’ve been. A world where we can accept the past in the light of day without wishing to shut the door on it. A world where we know in the infinity of life where we are, all is perfect, whole, and complete. That no matter what point in time we’re residing, it’s all ok.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.