For the last three years, I have been desperately trying to become who I used to be, or some mashup of the old and new me. I wanted to look, act, and live like her. Cece of yesteryear was a friggin’ superhero. She accomplished so much and survived even more. The woman was fierce! Until now, I believed new me (current Cece) to be a pale imitation of the superhero I used to be. I am meek compared to her fiery self. I wanted her to rescue me, re-inhabit me, and brighten my life.
But that isn’t possible, is it? I cannot be old me. There is no going back. I’m not even sure how she would survive this new life.
Because of Old Cece, I got through the toughest years of my life. She persevered through experiences that were meant to break me and make me a soulless statistic. Instead of crumbling, she became a kick-ass, take no shit super woman.
I know now that I am not weak, and we are not so different. I am older, wiser, less contentious, and more thoughtful, but that does not mean I am not fierce too. It does not mean I am not also a superhero.
I no longer need to mourn the younger version of myself. Actually, I can no longer afford to mourn her. The grief has caused me to stall in place, preventing me from living a full life. Instead of marching forward, I have been looking back, walking slowly, waiting for my former self to catch up.
I am forever grateful to the old me. She served her purpose, and now she must rest. I need to accept and make room for the changes, the gifts, that three decades of life have given me.
If I was honest, I have been afraid of the future because I still believed that fire was the only way to pave a path. But fire is not the only tool in my arsenal. It is not the only way to create a future. And it has caused me great angst that the crystalline certainty that Old Cece possessed has seemed to elude me. Am I no longer ambitious? Am I now content to settle for less than I desire and deserve? Those questions plagued me as I compared who I was to who I have become. It never occurred to me that the act of rejecting my present being was the exact thing that was locking me in place. I blamed the state of my life on the misunderstood and unwanted changes instead of blaming my actions and reactions. Old Cece had just as many constraints, as I have never lived a carefree, responsibility-free life, so why was my present so empty by comparison?
Many people are in mourning, yearning for the parts of themselves that no longer exist or will not serve them well in the future. Some do not mourn their past selves. Instead, there is constant friction and loathing, and a little fear that one wrong move will bring that person to the fore.
No matter whether your past self is a hero or villain, it is time to put that version to rest. It is impossible to thrive while in conflict with yourself because inner conflict is a barrier to peace and prosperity. By contrast, accepting all versions of yourself and all stages of your life is part of self-love and a crucial part of healing.
Thank the old you for all the lessons and for getting you this far, and wish him or her peace. Your past cannot help you anymore, nor should it be allowed to hurt you. However, looking back can hinder your present and future. So pack the past away and accept the person you are today including the flaws and oddities.
I wrote a thank you note to Old Cece. I thanked her for her strength and sense of adventure. As I wrote, I realized she and I are not so different. We are both strong, cunning, and tenacious. The difference is clear now. She was living, breathing fire that never stopped moving, and I have learned the art of conserving energy and being more targeted in my approach. Current Cece learned you catch more flies with honey, and fire can quickly get out of control.
The thank you note helped settle the inner unrest and allowed me to see myself in a new light. It also made me realize that by accepting who I am today, I am creating a newer version of myself that will emerge sooner rather than later. I need to learn to welcome her as well.
In 2012, Old Cece made a vision board that was far more intuitive than I understood back then. It gave me a wide berth in which to grow. Things were added to the vision board that I did not even want at the time. Yet, I had inadvertently given myself permission to try and be anything. I have created and discarded many vision boards since then, but that one stares back at me daily as I work at my desk at home. To this day, it dares me to aim high, create, and achieve what you never believed possible. In the note, I thanked her for being a visionary and giving us permission to be anything.
Make peace with the person you used to be. Make peace with all the past versions of yourself and accept who you are and who you will be. Try writing a thank you note to the old you and a welcome letter to the new you. Or have a private farewell and welcome home party. It does not matter what you do as long as you settle the conflict within and embrace who you are.