I’ve often wondered what it would be like if my 16 year old self could meet my current self.
I pondered this over the weekend. I took myself outside on a lawn chair and enjoyed a couple of hours of sunshine. The kind of sunshine that isn’t predicated upon the overall temperature, but the warmth of the sun itself. I miss the sun in the winter months, and though it wasn’t hot out, it was sunny and warm enough to enjoy the sunlight. In and out of sleep, I re-acquainted myself with that girl.
What would she have to say? That sixteen year old? Would she be disappointed? Would she understand the distance and time endured between 16 and 41? Those experiences and habits that filled the time. At some point, I gave up living life just for the thrill of it. I became all too familiar with the process of making it from one crisis to the next. In the process of surviving others’ decisions, and my own decisions, I may have forgotten how to live for the sake of living. Merely surviving. Being in a constant state of anticipation is not very fulfilling.
As I lay on a lawn chair, I imagined her reaction. It isn’t all lost, she would assess. Her knowing eyes would see it all for what it is. My adult self got caught up. Caught up in fulfilling an expectation of what was “supposed” to be.
Somewhere along the way that inner voice became replaced, or rather, overwhelmed, with the voice of someone else. I’ve read about how we all have an inner voice. Often referred to as “The Inner Judge”, for many people it often sounds like their mothers’ voices. Full of criticism and doubt.
But at 16 years old, my inner voice was very clear and no nonsense. She was sure and confident. She was disgusted by injustice, and She had a voice that was unafraid of calling it exactly as She saw it. She wasn’t afraid. There was a sure path and she wasn’t afraid of it. It wasn’t the easy path, but She knew who could be trusted, and who couldn’t, without even knowing why. It was all so clear. It was before life had begun to feel like a series of battles. Tests of endurance.
In the years between 16 and the present, I’ve watched as people I love have succumbed. They’ve gone from a life worth living to succumbing to merely surviving. Waiting for death while the rest of what could have been a life passed them by. Succumbing to addiction, bad relationships, poor health, any manner of half living.
As I lie there in my lawn chair, what seems like a million miles from where I grew up, it dawned on me. She was never lost or silenced. She’s been there, struggling to survive sometimes in the garden of my mind. Overwhelmed by the weeds of doubt. Weeds that needed to be pulled.
Having done some maintenance on that inner garden, it was very easy to hear the familiar voice of a higher self. It’s like catching up with an old friend. If I had actually been a separate entity from myself, there would have been a fair amount of laughs. The conversation may have started with:
“Hey, remember that time…” followed by: “Yes, I knew that wasn’t going to end well!”
“I couldn’t believe it when…”, followed by: “...I was really scratching my head at what the hell you were thinking!”
We’d laugh and laugh about the nonsense of it all! Then she’d look me square in the face, hold me firmly by the shoulders. She’d say in a sure voice and without judgement, “That’s enough of all that. No more. We’ve got living to do!”
So, I kind of hashed it out with the one person that really matters: me. I’m the primary person that my decisions and choices have affected. Here’s the thing: none of it’s been that bad, but I allowed myself to succumb to judgement. The judgement of others, the judgement of myself. I’ve found that I am my own worst critic. Whether decisions and circumstances were good or bad, I’ve learned and I’ve grown. By forgiving myself, I am freeing my mind to dream new dreams. I’m learning to turn off the loops that play in my head, that tell me I’m not good enough. I’ve survived everything that’s happened up to this point: rejection having been the hardest. I can’t make someone else love or accept me, but I can make sure that I love and accept myself.
I guess I could simply say that I caught up with an old friend this weekend, and she’s incredible.