Several years back, I woke up one morning feeling like my life was all wrong for me. It was a bit like I’d gone to sleep one size and woken up the next day having gained countless pounds but still wearing the same clothing I’d worn to bed.
It was my clothes (and my life), but everything was tight. Constricting.
I’m not sure what was different about that morning. Epiphanies are funny that way. You’re going along minding your own business when the truth suddenly hits you.
In all likelihood, it wasn’t so sudden as that. The changes (or lack thereof) probably grated on me gradually, but I was so adept at blocking out discomfort, so good at shoving down feelings that I thought were unacceptable or inconvenient, that I never registered how unhappy I was until I reached a certain threshold. The threshold where it became impossible for me to block it out anymore.
And then I was very aware that I was miserable. Feeling strangled, as though I were wearing clothes that were several sizes too small.
Once I had that realization, I knew what I had to do. I had to start making changes. There were lots of things in my life that had to go.
I wish I could say that this was a quick process. But it wasn’t. Instead, it took me months. And not just because behavioral change can be hard (although it can be). And not just because some of my changes involved extended timelines due to money or involvement of others (although some did).
It was also because part of me had a hard time letting go of the person I was when I’d made all those now-bad-for-me decisions.
Change Is Hard When It Means Rejecting the Self that You Were
One of the most difficult things about change is that changing often requires that you reject the self that you were.
It’s only so that you can become the version of yourself that you want to be. But it can be painful to challenge who you are. It can be very humbling.
Sometimes this also means severing ties with people who bring out that part of you. Which can also be very difficult and painful. (I’ve found that when doing so that it’s easy to doubt myself, doubt my choices, doubt that I’m doing what’s right for me.)
I found myself feeling disloyal or worrying that to do so were callous.
But time bore out the truth: It was only by rejecting certain unhealthy connections, people who were largely predatory and transactional — both at odds with my core values — that I was able to really grow into my own person. And to become a person who could see the good in others and do what I could to foster it.
After all, people grow apart. And while it can be painful if someone decides that I don’t fit into their life anymore, if they have to reject me to pursue a new version of themselves, well, I wish them well.
Because it’s not really about rejecting me but about rejecting who they were when they were with me. And that I get.
Onward and upward.