I revisited my childhood last week. I saw a phantom dock that stretched out into the sea. I saw my feet stomping along a rickety boardwalk and my hand ferociously gripping a quarter, so it wouldn’t slip through my fingers, fall between the sla...
I revisited my childhood last week.
I saw a phantom dock that stretched out into the sea. I saw my feet stomping along a rickety boardwalk and my hand ferociously gripping a quarter, so it wouldn’t slip through my fingers, fall between the slats in the dock and into the water. I’m strategically running through a cloud of deep-fried, soft-serve heaven, because I’m going to play a video game in the arcade. Hopefully the big kids let me have a turn.
This memory brings tears, although the precise reason is not clear. I think part of me feels really bad for that kid, because she’s going to have so many tough times. The darkness will set in shortly after this moment and she will lose herself. I desperately wish I could take a time machine back there to scoop her up and let her know everything I know now, so that she won’t have to hurt so much. But I can’t. Perhaps it’s the helplessness I feel that’s chauffeuring in the sadness. Or maybe I’m still holding onto a lot of painful memories.
The fog of regret and loss tends to overshadow joyful experiences from the past. When I revisited the beach where I spent so many summers as a kid, I felt extremely unsettled. Even the night before I planned to go, I became consumed with sadness simply envisioning myself being there. And when I got there, old feelings and emotions, of the person I used to be, came through.
Part of the reason for this grief-filled predicament I found myself in comes from the fact that I feel more connected to the child on the boardwalk than I do the person I became shortly after this memory. That’s a lot of years spent being someone you’re not, and with that truth comes some heavy emotions. So at the beach last week, I really felt the internal struggle between the untrue version of me, and the real one. I was fading in and out of the memories and the feelings and the thoughts, which became so easy to do in old, familiar territory.
But I’m not the memories and I’m not those old feelings. I can see past the rocks, the grass and the poles in the water. I can envision great things for myself. I’m choosing to focus on the islands and the mountains, which hold new experiences. These new experiences can become new memories, to replace the ones that haunt me.
I’m grateful. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come, and that I gave myself permission to be me. I’m continuously shedding the cultivated fears – one moment and memory at a time. I now let myself see and feel the truth, instead of the fear-induced negatives that dominated me most of my life. I can let the memories filter through me instead of consuming me. And when I stand up I look towards the sun instead of the clouds.
We are not the past. We are who we are right now, in this moment.
Think kind thoughts about yourself. Give yourself permission to be you. Love the kid you once were, and the person you are today.
And remember that you are loved because you are.