Sometimes, It’s Okay to Look Back

Photo by Carol Wd

On April 15, 2018, after weeks of writing and setting up the website, I took a deep breath and moved my blog from private to public, beginning my growth journey with The Journey Begins, and The Full Story.

The Full Story explained how the last few years had dented my armor and made me become a shadow of myself. The post was long and deeply personal. It had a few typos, but it did a great job of setting the stage for what’s to come. Reading it again, I remembered the emotional state I was in. Fed up, sick and tired, but determined. Determined to crawl out of my dark little hole and live a full life again. Reading it makes me both sad and grateful. I survived that period and I am out the other side.

Now, reviewing the post from a checklist standpoint, not much has changed in eighteen months. I’m still working on the last ten pounds. Still writing the book. Though to be fair, I started a completely new book since last April, and I’m in the last stages of editing. And I am not yet the fabulous goddess I envision in my head.

However, I’m not depressed or grieving. My marriage is stable. My child is happy and thriving. I know which direction I’m taking my career. I write consistently. And I don’t cringe every time I look in the mirror or see a picture of myself. My hair isn’t crumbling to the touch. My clothes are not swallowing me up, or two seconds from popping. I laugh freely and loudly, chose when to speak my mind, and verbalize my love and appreciation to those who matter to me. I sleep well and I completed therapy.

Though far less tangible—less sexy, than my flat stomached brick house goal—these things are priceless. Peace is priceless.

“Start where you are” is excellent advice. It’s a reminder that you can always begin anew. It’s a reminder that perfection is unnecessary. You don’t need every duck in a row. You need one duck. Just one. Last April I made the decision to start where I was and look where it’s taken me.

“Don’t look back” is also good advice. It reminds you to always look forward and never get mired in the past. Regrets, mistakes, pains, and grief may lurk there, and those things are often like quicksand, eager to pull you under.

But sometimes you need to know where you’ve been to clearly see where you are headed. Sometimes you need to look back because knowledge is power. To truly shape the future you want, you need to arm yourself with your history. In looking back, you will discover your patterns, fears, and values. In your history lies the key to the tomorrow you envision. Your barriers lie there as well.

The woman in my head is a perfect blend of young, fearless, sexy me, and current insightful wiser me, and with a bunch of awesome upgrades that I’d like to install. Author. Exerciser. Meditator, etc.

Cece V

Back then, the premise of this blog was to chronicle the journey of rediscovering myself and share some life lessons along the way. That hasn’t exactly changed. What has changed is that I am using this as a platform to help propel my life’s purpose of helping people fulfill their dreams. We are all works-in-progress. I believe we are all capable of changing and becoming the person we envision. And I believe we should all strive for progress, not perfection. More than that, I believe sometimes, it only takes one person’s story to positively shape another’s. Now I am more intentional about projecting my message.

In addition to reading my first few blog posts, I read my old journal. And by old, I mean the one I stopped writing in at the end of August. I spent a week in deep reflection, reading my first few blog posts and the nearly three years of heartbreaking journal entries. I find it difficult to conceive that woman was ever me. And honestly, 2016 and 2017 are a blur. There are snippets of icky feelings and flashes of a lot of pain and confusion, but I don’t remember much else. No memories stick out. I mean, I feel like a bad parent by admitting this, but I barely remember my kid’s second and third birthday parties. That’s how much of blur those two years are. Thank god there are pictures. 2018 was better. Like the fog lifted. And though 2019 isn’t flashy, I feel alive. I feel like me. Like Cece 1.5, not 2.0. ‘Cuz Cece 2.0 most definitely has a flatter stomach and less student loan debt. I am learning to be thankful for my trials and tribulations. I am learning to look for the lessons, even in the ones I feel are unfair.

Growth is hard. It happens slowly, most often at a slug’s pace. Usually, the changes are internal before there is ever an outward difference. It starts with a different mindset. Determination. Small behaviors, like breathing before you yell. And sometimes you stall there for a while. This is when looking back is helpful. It is then that you will see you are not the same person you were before. You are not in the same place. You are growing. Things are changing, albeit incrementally. Sometimes it is not only okay to look back; it is necessary. People often lament that people don’t change ever. That is not true. People do change. But on their own terms, in incremental stages.

You are changing. We all are. Slowly. One decision at a time. We are all slugging our way through our growth journey, trying to become a little better than we were before. The world may not notice your changes. Your best friend or mom may not notice. But you need to notice the changes in yourself. Take a look back, a quick glance, and see how far you’ve come. See how many obstacles you’ve hurdled. Now, pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath, look forward, and keep going.