I didn’t want to forget the time before the struggles began sloughing off like old, dry skin. A time when every aspect of life except my cat was, in fact, a struggle. When I weathered a tsunami of guilt every time payday rolled around and I had to ask for enough to pay my bills, half of which were credit cards accruing interest so high and fast I was spinning wheels, rocketing backward.
I didn’t want to forget how I was treated when I gained weight, like donning an invisibility cloak. Compound that with age and I had disappeared myself. I could go anywhere and never be seen because no one was looking anymore. I didn’t want to forget what it was like to feel ignored and unimportant. Even if I had the most shining personality, it was never enough to rise above the judgment, and ultimately, I was a 4 on a 1-10 because I was someone who ate their feelings, and it showed. I didn’t want to forget the time when I couldn’t wear jeans anymore because I had a belly and couldn’t stand the look of a band cutting the fat in two. When I lived in sweatpants and yoga leggings and convinced myself that my boyfriend’s gray zip-up XL hoodie was relaxed chic.
I didn’t want to forget the days when all of life except my cat, felt like crawling out of a hole only to be yanked back into the abyss by the boulder tethered to my ankles. When I’d get it going, sweat it out, focus, write, move things forward . . . and little to nothing happened. A small internal shift, then back to worry and the weight of living behind.
My life was finally changing for the better and it was scary to realize glimpses of a Self freed from the binds of past struggles.
Could I accept the Joy that was seeping into every cell and couldn’t be stopped? Life was beautiful despite it all and somehow, I’d always known it would get easier.
Now that it was, I never wanted to forget what it was like before.
I didn’t wanna be one of those people that became so insular in their happiness that they weren’t able to truly see and be present for those still hurting.
But staying in the pain wasn’t me anymore. I’d grown tired of struggling and integrated the knowing that I deserved to have money for groceries and beyond—to eat out in restaurants, buy new clothes and make upgrades across the board.
I had to trust myself now, to let the good stuff in and remain on the ground as a human-soul who couldn’t possibly forget what it was like then, but who didn’t need to live there to relate.
Then and now were not only close, but in many ways, overlapping. I had friends stuck in a survival mode eerily similar to the one I resided in only a few short years ago. I’d listen and hold space as they vented their woes, sometimes offering, “I can relate,”—because, well, I could then and can now. Even though I’ve up-leveled, I’m still climbing the mountain. But I could feel the protest in their silence, a stubbornness to feel alone in it, the unspoken, “No you can’t.”
Maybe the rejection of my olive branch was exactly what I needed.
Because even though I knew viscerally well what they were going through, that scarcity was still buried in my bones somewhere, it no longer served me to be where they were. If they decided to go with the “easy for you to say” stance that was their prerogative. They could convince themselves that I had ascended to some higher level and our experiences were completely different because of something I’d shed or worked through or healed on an alternate timeline. It wasn’t true. But there was no use trying to change their opinions of themselves, and subsequently, their resentment (however mild) of me.
We can’t stop succeeding to make other people feel better. Even if we did, it won’t.
In every stage of personal evolution, somebody always has it better or worse. That can bring us closer, but often we use it to compare and judge ourselves, then blame others for where we're at. This only thickens the veil between us and our becoming.
I had debts. Oh, I had debts. But I was making money. I wasn’t wearing jeans yet but I felt my body changing. I had scaled the hole and loosed the boulder but some days still felt backward. Progress wasn’t linear but growth was certain.
That was nothing to explain, rob myself of or retreat from. I had every right to be happy and live well, take naps and thrive. I would never forget what it was like then. I would remember so tenderly I’d relive the experience in more ways than one. I could see them and relate. And live a very full and prosperous life without apologies.