Shortly after my ex-husband and I split up, I was driving one night, listening to “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas, and the tears began rolling down my cheeks:
“Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know the hardest part is over?
… All of my regret will wash away somehow
But I cannot forget the way I feel right now
In these small hours.”
Never before, as an adult, really, have I let myself feel that pain, any pain. I chose numbness over pain. I blocked pain out, running from one thing to the next, one relationship to the next.
That night, I decided to stop the insanity, stop making the same mistakes over and over, expecting a different outcome, a rosy new life without putting in the work of feeling. I would explore the pain, figure out why I kept making the same mistakes and do things differently.
This morning, almost two years later, I was struck by “Someday,” another Rob Thomas song, in which he sings about “starting all over again.”
Starting all over again is a lie, an illusion. If I’m honest with myself, I can’t ever start over, fresh slate, new beginning.
It is impossible, when things get too hard, to “start over.” I can change jobs, change schools, end relationships, terminate friendships. I can walk away. But whatever I am walking away from will always be a part of who I am. And until I deal with the baggage in my past, I won’t change. The future won’t be any better than the past.
I’ve made some better choices in the past two years. I’ve learned about myself and I’ve done some things that I’m really proud of. I have found a strength inside myself that I never knew was there.
I cry a lot more often than I used to, but I laugh more too. I stopped taking medications that were numbing me, turning off my depression and anxiety, but also blocking out joy and happiness.
At times, it is lonely and hard and painful. Sometimes I wake up at night, worried and scared, unable to get back to sleep. I miss having a companion — not family or children — with whom to share the pain, and the joy. And still, sometimes, I continue to stumble and make choices that I later regret. The baggage in my past still influences my actions.
Someone asked me recently “If you could do something totally out of character and remain anonymous what would you do?”
I thought a lot about that question, not so much about what I would do if there were no way it could come back on me, but about what looking to live a life without repercussions would mean about me. I can never think that there will be no consequences to my actions.
Realizing that has been key to me. And it hasn’t always been part of my mindset, I’m sorry to say. I have made mistakes, made choices in my life that I wouldn’t have made if I had known I would have to live with the repercussions for the rest of my life.
No matter what, nothing I do is in a vacuum. Even if no one else ever finds out, I will know in the morning what choices I made, what I did, what mistakes I made, and I have to live with the outcome of that.
Over the years, we pick up so much baggage, good and bad, accomplishments and failures. And we have to deal with all of that, every day of our life. My marriage didn’t work out, but without that failure I wouldn’t have my beautiful children, who add so much to my life.
The best I can do is start from now, knowing that I am the product of everything I have done so far, every choice, every relationship, every experience. Every accident, every mistake, every intentional act, every success. Learn from all of that and take the next step.
Not starting over. Starting from now.
~ Originally published on the now-defunct “The Moms’ House” blog.