birthdays gone by

As I mark growing another year older, I’ve been thinking about the state of my life now versus two or six or twelve years ago, the things I lived through then and the way I live now. I spent some time remembering birthdays gone by and reflecting on how different my current experience is—and how grateful I am that it’s changed so dramatically. I almost can’t believe I made it through some of the worst times, but I did—and learned so much from each of them. That being said, I intend to use the constructive power of those memories to help myself make wise choices going forward. Not to wallow in regret, but to honor my mistakes and failures, and celebrate my liberation from the past.

10 things I choose to never suffer through again:

  1. The overwhelm and shame of very deep debt; the endless, losing battle to pay bills and catch up, scraping by month-to-month year after year, worried and afraid.
  2. The wrenching, gnawing anxiety and unease of being with someone who disrespects, exploits, manipulates and abuses me; the strain of watching and waiting for their moods to dictate my life. Feeling powerless and trapped.
  3. The fathomless chasm of codependency, feeling so attached to another that I can’t feel or sense myself without them, making choices that don’t serve my needs in order to enable theirs.
  4. The distressing and uncomfortable feeling that I don’t belong in my life, feeling lost and frightened and disconnected. Wanting to be at peace, never finding a way to stop the sense of being wrong inside. Knowing only ego, having no connection to soul.
  5. Desperate emotional dependence on a drug, depending on the escapism of pot and the fear that without it reality would be dull, flat and intolerable.
  6. The numbing state of autopilot, living my life in a haze, doing things because I’ve always done them, being pinned down by “shoulds” and blindly following the old rules.
  7. The daily struggle to BE OK, to make everything OK, merely to survive each moment using all my inner strength and resources. Barely keeping my head above water, being thrown off balance effortlessly by another person; feeling no center within myself.
  8. The pain of not living as my authentic self, twisting myself into knots for another and feeling the life sap out of me by my own betrayal of self.
  9. The awkward, uneasy conflict of not trusting myself, not listening to my inner wisdom or following my instincts.
  10. The aching disappointment when someone I love lets me down, breaks an agreement, dismisses another promise, leaves me stranded. The familiar sense of loss and disorientation when it happens again, not knowing how to fulfill my needs and wants.

I can’t control what will happen to me, what challenges I’ll face, problems I’ll create, or losses I’ll experience, but I can control how I choose to live my life. I’ve made it a priority over the past year and a half to set clear intentions for what I want and why I want it, to honor my values, needs, feelings, and desires, to trust my instincts implicitly, and to thrive in every way possible. I’m guided by a new set of rules now, no more “shoulds” or compromising of who I am.

Whatever happens in the future, if it’s at all within my power, I’ll never go back to such dark days again.