It’s two completely separate conversations that start the chain of thoughts. The first one about what we choose – I choose – to share on the internet; the second a conversation about the importance of letting go of the past. When I think about it, it links to what I have long suspected to be the beginning of all this too: ten years since I was eighteen and completely unprepared for living alone at university in a town which I didn’t know.
It’s clichéd I know, but I’m big on milestones like that.
I tell my friend that I can’t help but be reminded of the beginning of university; another – disastrous and short-lived – move away from home; beginning secondary school and a bereavement at this time of year because all of those things happened in the autumn. “That’s all very well,” she tells me, “but you’re still connecting emotions with it.”.
I realise – or rather, I let myself accept the thought which has been swimming somewhere in the corner of my conscience – that it’s time to move on.
I have written about choice so many times. I have made so, so many choices. And now it is my time to choose to say goodbye to the bad memories; to the past.
I watched a YouTube video last night which discussed the difference between the idea of forgiveness as condoning someone’s behaviour or choices and forgiveness as letting go of feelings of resentment and a desire to get back at people who have upset us. This struck a deep chord with me: I will never, ever condone the behaviour of the people who hurt me at school. I will never condone the actions – or lack of – of the teachers who let it continue for so many years. But I am allowed let go now. I have been able to make choices which allow me to prove – day in, day out – that I do not condone this behaviour. I have made amends for what happened in my own ways. I am in a position where I can – if I try hard enough – make a real effort to prevent what happened to me at school from happening to anyone else again.
In the same way, I trust myself now. I am not about to make any decisions which go against the values of the person who I have got to know. My friends are my friends because they like me: not my eating disorder, or because I hide myself away. There are parts of me that are good: parts that are worth liking.
When I started this blog, my own mental wellbeing was my whole life. I had been forced to quit normal life to dedicate all of my time to becoming a whole person again. I was fractured and hurting terribly. But that is five years ago. That was five years ago. And now I am that person, but also not that person.
Now, I know who I am (as much as anyone ever knows who they are). I have a job that I love and friends who I love and a volunteering position that I love and a hobby that I love and these are the bloody best things to have ever happened to me. To be able to write that fills me with pride and happiness.
Of course, it’s not all plain sailing. Anorexia and anxiety and OCD are all still parts of my life.Like everyone else, I have bad days and terrible days and days where I would rather not have got up at all. Contrary to what I spent a long time thinking – and searching for – there is no answer. You cannot flick a ‘happy and perfect’ switch. I will not just be able to leave the past in the past, although I can start having strong words with myself when I am tempted not to. My mental health, strengthened as it has become, is not something I can switch off. I will probably always live with – or fight against – those demons, but – strange as it sounds – I am OK with that. I can manage that.
I need space to write other stories now.
And, so, this will be the last post on this blog (for now – never say never!). I cannot express how grateful I am to have had this space on which to share my thoughts and feelings. I cannot express how grateful I am to every person who has read, commented on and shared my writing. I will never be able to adequately express the love I have for the people in my life who have loved me, helped me, talked to me, befriended me during a time in my life which has been nothing short of hard. I want to write that in one hundred sentences, to show how much it means, but that one will have to do. Just know that, if that is you, you are a very, most incredibly wonderful and special person.
If I can leave you with one thought, it is this: Keep going, because it will be worth it. It will never be perfect but, in the end, it will be OK.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Thank you. So much.