Updated: Feb 4, 2021
"Your new life will cost you your old life".......What does that mean? What does the death of your old life look like?
Recently, I was inspired to go through some old boxes of family photos, documents and memories to decide what my grown children would actually cherish upon my death. As you get older and experience the loss of a parent, you are forced to really look at the value of material things and whether or not they have intrinsic value, sentimental value or just take up space. It took me years to let go of my Mother's doll collection; they were very important to her and I felt, as her daughter, that they should be important to me too. Honestly, they creeped me out! Those cold, glass eyes staring back at you - I felt like they would steal my soul if I let them. Too many horror movies in my youth, I suppose. I kept them in their original boxes and moved them to each new home. I thought that maybe my daughter would want them eventually and pass them on to her daughter one day. She had less desire to have them than I did. So the day came when I had to part with everything in my basement to make room for construction of an apartment for my daughter and granddaughter. I held on to those dolls and other knick knacks for over 15 years, afraid that I would hurt my Mother's feelings but as Amos on the Amazon Prime Show "The Expanse" said recently "Dead people don't need their things".
I digress...So I am looking at ALL my "stuff" through the eyes of my children/grandchild. Will they want this?
Will they care to read my diaries?
Do I want them to read my diaries?
Will they cherish these books?
What about these pictures?
Does this generation care about knowing where they came from?
I really don't know. I do know that at their current ages, they are most consumed with what has value that they could sell. That's been made abundantly clear. I can't say that I blame them. I felt the same way when I was their age. But as you get older and begin to question "who am I?" "where did I come from?" "who were my ancestors?" you will wish you had all those pictures, diaries, books, memories to pull from.
I know, you're asking "What does this have to do with "finding yourself" in your past?
Among my collection of boxes, one box was "Laura's High School Memories". I knew I had kept things like the embossed napkins from prom (yeah, I don't know either), pictures taken with my 110 camera on the school bus or in class, my medal from going to state for Health Occupation Students of America (like Jeopardy for all things medical), and my love letters from Heath (those are my most valued keepsakes). I also found a small pocket planner that I had kept very detailed reporting of all my escapades my senior year of high school and a diary of my activities of the summer of 1987 (age 15).
Now I remember most all of it but my memories are softened around the edges. When reading my own handwritten words of who/what/when, I have to admit I was mortified.
Why, you ask?
If you've read my previous blog post about my relationship with my body, it may be clear that I had major issues with self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-worth, etc. I never felt pretty or that I fit in. I looked very different from the other girls with my small, deep set eyes and round face. Even when I was skinny (looking back), I didn't see it and wished I could look like all the other girls who were considered beautiful. So when a boy showed interest in me, well.....
I read the words in my younger self's journals and my first reaction was to laugh (OMG! I remember THAT!) but as I continued on, I began to feel shame. I sat in this revisiting of shame for what felt like an eternity. I didn't like this girl. I sat in judgment of her and the choices she made. Then the mother in me kicked in and I felt such a deep sadness for her; sad that she couldn't see herself through the eyes of God. Sad that she felt so worthless that she would give herself away to anyone who patted her head (and ego). My heart ached for her.
While feeling this sorrow for this young girl, I came upon letters that my Mother had written her best friend in 1990. (Why is this relevant? Stay with me...it all ties together.) My Mother's best friend, Cheryl, had moved away and she was in a deep depression and missed their connection. In these hand written letters, Mom detailed the monotony of her life, her desire to connect with her Higher Self and feeling like she didn't belong here, her relationship (or lack thereof) with my Father, her pain from significant back issues and sprinkled in stories about what I was up to, my breakup with Heath, where I was working, etc. Now, if I had read these letters as a young person, I would not have the life experience that I do now to appreciate where she was coming from. My Mother died when I was 27, so although I was technically an adult and mother, I didn't know my Mother in any other way than that of a support person in my life. Now, here I am, at 49, with two grown children and a grandchild and I am EXACTLY the same age and place in life that my Mother was when she wrote those letters. My mind was blown when I had that realization.
This is where we will tie these two stories together...
I was faced with the remembrance of this younger self, who had no clue what her value was and this girl's mother, who felt that life wasn't worth living. I knew these two women. I was ONE of them and I was born and raised from the other.
For days, I sat with all of this. I felt a sort of alchemy was taking place. I vacillated between sadness, grief, shame that moved into empathy, compassion and deep love for these two women. I "held" them in my arms and cried with them. I told the young girl that she was beautiful and worthy and she would know great love. I told my mother that I understood and empathized with her and that her life WAS of value to so many and that her legacy was that of a fiercely strong and intelligent woman who created an insatiable thirst of knowledge in her daughter.
As I write this, I know that this alchemy, this healing across time and space is a continual process. The tears I cry are evidence of that.
I have made a promise to that young girl (me) that I will honor her and do what it takes to feel better about ourselves and to be willing to step forward to be seen. I've promised my Mother that I will see the beauty and joy of the 3-D world that my body and the spark of my soul exists within and connect with her essence on the other side more and more to help guide my work.
It took opening some long closed boxes from my past to discover that there was much healing that needed to take place so that I could move forward into the life that is waiting for me.
"Your new life will cost you your old life"