Sometimes starting a new life can bring up grief and regret for the old life. While I am happy to have new experiences without the pain and anxiety of the past, it makes me wish there had been more of it.
Time is such a tricky aspect of the human experience. We can’t control it. We can’t make more of it. We can’t get back what we think we have wasted. As the song says, it is like an hourglass glued to the table. And while we can figure out how to control so many aspects of our lives (which is not always a good thing), we can’t control time. It will keep on going, with or without us.
And 42 years is a long time. It is more than 22 million minutes. It is more than half the lifespan for Americans. And for me, it is the longest amount of time I have ever known.
In my 42 years, I have received 3 different degrees from two colleges. I have lived in 10 houses and 3 countries. I have visited most European countries. I have been married twice and earned income ranging from nothing to 6 figures. I have managed teams of forty people and accomplished some massive projects that may have seemed impossible to some. I have owned enough rental property to call myself a millionaire (on paper) and I have been bankrupt (not my proudest moment). And most importantly, I have managed to raise two small hearts to the ripe old age of 7.
Most would say I have filled my days well. I have succeeded. I have failed even more. And recently, I have even loved. Children will do that to the most cynical adults.
But there’s a problem. I have not really lived these 42 years. They seemed to belong to someone else. I seemed to belong to someone else. My life has never been my life. I was never free. I always seemed to be looking over my shoulder. I was not able to fully let go of the enmeshment with the useless adults who were a part of my childhood.
While I am proud of my recovery work, I do regret that my first meeting with my current therapist happened at age 34. I regret that my first recovered memory did not become clear to my conscious brain until I was 37. I regret the forgetting. I regret the waiting. I regret the years of running from my past.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that forgetting saved my life. But forgetting also consumed a large portion of my early adult years. So while I do my best to stay positive about all I have accomplished, I sometimes have to face the fact that I didn’t do it sooner. I tried the “easy way” first. I tried to run from it. I tried to live with the past filling my unconscious with irrational belief systems, somehow expecting it to leave me alone. I would love to have that time back. I would have loved to live those early years with freedom, but I know that wishing for that is almost as futile as wishing for an apology from my abusers.
I know I can start over. I know that there is no better time than the present to do that. Of course, my memory recovery has a schedule of its own, which makes my inner control-freak very unhappy. And while my inner freedom does not entirely rely on memory recovery, it does rely on it. All my parts have to be free for me to be free. This I have learned.
And so I work to be free, truly free. And I try not to regret the life I have not known because nothing can come of that. But there is time lost. And there is grief about that time.
And yet I know I can be free for the next 42 years.
I can start now.
And this time can be mine.