At a dramatic and discouraging turning point in my life, I decided to retreat to my hometown for two weeks after largely being away for over twenty years. Exhilaration and welcome are my initial responses. I see a dynamic blend of so many things comfortingly familiar yet so many things wildly different. It is sensory overload in the best of ways.
The most emotionally provocative responses are to sights and memories related to my childhood. I am reminded of how I felt about times, how I perceived circumstances to be, what I was told by my parents, who I used to be familiar with but never got to know as well as I hoped to, how questions I had as a child flickered through my mind but that I ultimately chose not to think about, and more.
Familiar sights fill my eyes and memories rush from out of their compartments to the forefront of my mind. I now look at the past with the hindsight of an adult instead of just remembering how I perceived things as a child. When I was a child I did not have a lot of context to place lessons I learned into a wider perspective, I wholeheartedly trusted that every single decision my parents made was right and best, I did not have the depth of friendships or understanding to the point that I truly grasped the dynamics of how another peer was growing up alongside me, and I never really had any strongly defined dreams of what my adulthood would look like.
The childhood world that felt so enormous in my heart is now so small and so lacking in all the vital understandings that only come with adulthood. Certain feelings and perceptions that I could not put into words at the time now have a vocabulary and unlock new wisdoms to me. Childhood pressures I chose not to think about or that I dismissed as me being wrong look terribly valid and rather defining. Events that made me sad at the time that I cringed away from thinking about are now viewed without the weight of that dread and I see so many facts I wish I had put together sooner. I see that my parents were amazing in a multitude of ways, but they were not perfect.
I just want to tell earlier versions of myself that I was doing really well. You don’t have to worry so much about what other people think. You have permission to determine your own dreams. It is okay to feel pain for needs that went unmet! You are not utterly ungrateful just because you recognize that events or actions that happened to you were not right for you. You don’t have to expect yourself to meet unrealistic standards. You are allowed to have a bright idea that other people may disagree with and pursue it anyway. You can appreciate how good you have it yet dream of new adventures as well. You can be loud once in a while. You can laugh too hard and too long. You can smile when you remember something that makes you happy. You can love and obey your parents yet still have a different opinion. You don’t have to sit still and be quiet so often!
Being able to detach myself from the perspectives I had as a child and to inform my old memories with current insights has opened doors to enriched understanding and fresh inspiration for how I want to live my life going forward. I have my own share of imperfections and I would like to ditch the excessive shame and embrace the high achieving overcoming. Instead of focusing so intently on the qualities I am lacking, I will appreciate all that I have got going for me. I will respond with peace at the thought that I made it this far and I will successfully go further.
I’ve got this.
This post is republished on Medium.
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