“It is always important to know when something has reached its end.
Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it;
what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
I could hear myself re-telling the story again – the story that had defined and impacted much of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences of dating, love and relationships ever since it's events unfolded years ago. It's a story I've re-lived so many times I could recite it backwards, upside down, and in my sleep if I needed to (and maybe even have). But it wasn't the content that caught my attention this time anyway. It was the hesitating tone of my voice, the defeated slump of my shoulders, and the cautious knots in my gut.
Why so serious? Why so anxious? Why so protective of the details?
Why was it still such a big deal?
Suddenly I realized:
I was judging myself by my past.
This story that I eventually told to anyone who would listen – new friends, new potential suitors – had become something I used to explain myself. To explain who I was and why I acted or reacted in certain ways. To explain why I was single and not in a hurry to commit, label, or even trust.
I was essentially using that and other stories from my past as a way to define my present and direct my future. Judging myself by my past.
I realized after that story-telling experience that I didn't want to live in my past anymore. That story – like all the stories from my past – are only individual pieces of my life. Yes, they have shaped who I am. But I had done work on acknowledging how and moving on. I had started to open space for new stories to begin in my present, and to allow for a change in direction for my future.
Perhaps the next step to letting go was lifting the weight of those stories, releasing the judgment and truly living where I was: here and now.
Somewhere in the months that followed I must have started doing that. It's difficult to describe exactly how freeing it feels. But there seems to be less pressure in my life for certain things to be “a big deal”; and more space in my being to react organically to the changing directions. For example, I'm finding that this time while swapping life-stories with someone new I am more selective about what I share and when; yet less protective of the details when conversation leads that way. It no longer matters as much. Because I am who I am today, not yesterday. And I am likely going to change direction many times over before I get to where I'm going tomorrow.