Looking Back and Looking Forward

Take a moment. Look around you. Are you home, at work, at play, but most importantly, are you in the same place you were figuratively 10, 15, 20 years ago?

Probably not.

But it doesn’t feel very different, if you stop to think for a moment, even if your life has taken a complete 180. That is until we’re confronted with how our life “used to be” and that is meant in the most negative sense. Today I came face to face with what my life used to be like at probably close to my lowest point as an “adult”. I did some volunteer work at our local BIG flea market for a friend.

Why was this such a negative experience? Well, after I moved out at 19 I hooked up with well, a low life. Charming as hell, sexy, and addictive but still, a low life. We lived in basically the skid drug row of a small town and while she promised to quit dealing / taking “substances” after we got together, it wasn’t long before that behavior was back, but behind my back. I wasted 4 and a half LONG years with this waste-oid and many weekends were spent at places like the flea market because she loved to shop. Her addictions were many and that was, at least for me as a beeper, probably the worst.

Being there today, the smells, the people, and unfortunately, one of people who worked at the booth area I was helping out in who was heavily into the “substance culture”, brought back how awful that time in my life really was. How I dissociated every day because of the sheer squalor I was living in and being around her lowlife friends, going out every weekend to the bars, spending week nights alone as she was “out”. How I looked away as she cut up an 8 ball to sell. How I blinded myself to her “side projects (people)” especially as she overlapped a new relationship before ours finally, at about dang time, ended.

Sitting there this afternoon, listening to a person talking about the culture, the friends in and out, their own sobriety as they bartered for a beer, the sheer disgust and hypocrisy, I felt physically ill. As soon as it was polite to, I excused myself and thanked my “friend” for the chance to get out and test myself with some volunteer work and walked quickly to my car.

Today’s experience was significant for a number of reasons. You see, 3 years ago I couldn’t get out of bed. 2 years ago I didn’t last an hour volunteering at the local library  before a horrible panic attack sent me scampering home. Today was all about seeing where I am now in my mood disorder recovery. The good news: I helped out for over 2 hours with no anxiety, no panic, handled the traffic and was able to work with others. The better news: I got a chance to see how far I truly have come from the person I was 20 years ago as well.

As I sit here in my clean, lovely home, in our wonderful neighborhood, with money in the bank, a 401k, a fantastic marriage of over 18 years, and intelligent, healthy, normal friends, I am grateful to the depths of my soul. Grateful for having escaped my toxic, abusive family of origin, my early relationship/living mistakes, and for busting my butt in recovery. I am grateful that I helped out at the flea market today, grateful because in looking back I can see how far I’ve come, how different, and even with it’s challenges, healthier my life is now. I can be grateful for the person I’ve become, warts and all, because she is a far healthier and happier person than my 22 year old self could have ever dreamed of becoming.

This was a hard post to share but sometimes a person needs a serious reality slap to fully appreciate their life “now”. And to be careful not to take it for granted. And I am so, so very grateful!

Lesson Learned:

Perspective. Sometimes you need a glimpse of where you came from to fully embrace who you’ve become. But a glimpse is enough. Look, appreciate, and walk forward!

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5 thoughts on “Looking Back and Looking Forward

  1. Pingback: Going Back to Move Forward « Muse In The Valley

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