This week I took a look around my bedroom and realized I had a lot of pictures hanging on my wall or displayed in picture frames of memories I shared with people who aren't in my life anymore, in some cases they were people I haven't spoken to in years. I think in some place in my mind I thought that while the people might be different now than they were in those pictures, those memories were what made me who I am, even if I am not the same person I was when the picture was taken. That at least at the time those moments were everything to me. Those people were everything to me.
However, I started to find myself sad at how some of the relationships ended, the photos didn't remind me of a happy memory anymore, they reminded me of bitter fights and mean words and an ache knowing those were memories, never to be relived, never to be remade. At first as I started to take these pictures down I was sad and I missed the memories, and those moments, and the love and laughter that was captured in a single frame. My heart hurt until I realized while I may have missed the memories, there was a lot I didn't miss. I didn't miss the person that I was in almost all these pictures. I didn't miss the version of myself who was hostile, and quick to judge the people that I loved. That version of myself broke a lot of things beyond repair, and while in hindsight it was for the best, I was not gentle with peoples hearts in the process.
When I started to put up the new pictures though, of not a "new life" or a "new me" but a healthier life, and a better me, I started to feel the sadness pass. I could see that in these photos the smiles were not forced and the joy was genuine. The faces of all the new and wonderful people who God has placed in my life. All the wonderful experiences I have had, and the beautiful places I've gotten to explore. All the fears I've faced and the obstacles I've overcome.
The community of people I've gotten to know, the people who I know I have in my corner is pretty much what makes me excited for life. I haven't had a large blood family that lives in close proximity to me in quite some time, but I wake up everyday knowing that I have people rooting for me, who love me and support me in my crazy journey, and who have helped me become a person I'm proud to be. A makeshift family. I have never felt so fortunate.
So now instead of having a room filled with ghosts, I go to bed at peace, knowing I am loved, knowing that I am not the person I used to be, I am different in the best way.
I used to think it was always very beautiful and poetic to be "haunted." Turns out is only beautiful and poetic in cool indie movies. My life is not a cool indie movie (despite how I wish it could be sometimes). It is okay to let the past go. It is good, and healthy to make peace with your demons and put them to rest. It doesn't have to always be a dramatic break-up with your past of crying and tearing up pictures and watching them burn in a trash can. Sometimes just finding the courage to take the pictures down is enough. To stop giving the ghosts power to scare you.
I'm still probably always going to be a person who hates change. It gives me anxiety in a way that I cannot explain. However, once the change has occurred it is best to just steer into it, and hope it is taking you to something better, that it is happening for the best. Seems to me that at least in recent history, change is the best thing that could've happened to me.
The memories will always still be there, they just don't look so much like ghosts anymore.