I can point to specific moments throughout my life where I’ve started a new chapter. Times where I’ve had to sit myself down, metaphorically and sometimes literally, and said “This is gonna be scary for awhile but you can’t hide from the change anymore.” And right at this moment, I’m not really at a crossroad, but more at the beginning of a path that I’m hesitant to go down. I’m halfway through my second semester of college. I’m thinking about changing my major. Last month I lost a couple people in my life and a gained a few more. I’m becoming healthier and farther out from treatment and my risk of relapse goes down with each passing day. A new chapter is beginning and I still haven’t made peace with the old one.
I think many of us have a habit of looking to the past for answers that we can only find in the future. We go back to old relationships because the void of independence is too painful to bear; we place the love we should have for ourselves in the arms of other (where, despite our best beliefs, it is not safe); we hate where we are because we can’t understand how we got here.
I spend so, SO much time in the past. Thinking through my cancer diagnosis again and again. Feeling resentment towards people who probably barely remember me. The issue has never been that I want to go back to the past, it’s more that I can’t understand why it happened. I don’t know why I got cancer or why I was screwed over by friends or why I’ve been low night after night, even though my present is just fine and my future is bright, I just can’t let go of what HAS happened. It’s over but I’m not over it. I envy those who have religion in their lives because forgiveness and faith seems to come so natural to them and I don’t have forgiveness for any of it. Even worse is that I don’t have forgiveness for myself. Because when you survive something that was supposed to take your life, you’re supposed to be thankful for every waking moment on this Earth. You’re supposed to walk with grace and strength and there is so much guilt in the times when you don’t. And that’s my issue with moving onto a new chapter; there’s a lot I would’ve done differently in the last one and I can’t seem to walk away from the regret.
There are moments of clarity in every day. I’ll be writing in a coffee shop or sitting on my bedroom floor laughing with a friend, and for that moment, I can see a glimpse of what I want the next chapter to look like; full of life, family, creativity, self acceptance. I’m staring down a path that I’ve been forming in my mind for awhile and I’m just working up the courage to go down it. And I’m telling myself over and over that moving forward does not disrespect the past, it justifies it. It proves that everything you’ve gone through has had the power to bring you to this point; the moment you decide to be at peace with what troubles you and move on with your big life.