I like to assess my life every once in a while. Do a spring cleaning of a bad habit, a lazy chore, or a self damaging thought process. Things have been tough this year so I am behind on my self improvements.
The other day I was talking to a friend and I found myself saying, “I used to be…” quite often. I used to have time for me. I used to have a clean house. I used to have money. I used to be pretty. And on and on!
I was annoying myself by the end of the conversation so I am sure my friend will need several weeks to recover.
I started thinking… why am I so concerned with what I ‘used to’ do, have, look like, etc.?
Why is longingly comparing to the past OK with me? What could possibly be so bad about my life now that makes me want to relish in what I ‘used to’ have?
I am pretty. I know I am pretty. Am I the best looking and self groomed I have ever been in my life? No. But am I still an attractive person with attributes to offer? Like a kind heart, a willing ear, and a ready laugh?
I hope so!
Sure, I ‘use to’ hit the salon once a week. Manicures and pedicures galore. My hair was cut and colored every 6 weeks and you would never see a hair on my upper lip.
But I had nothing else to do! No one else to care for. Nothing else to fill my time. I could afford to be selfish because no one needed me then.
But I had no one to notice.
Now, if I fix my hair and make up, I have four immediate comments on how pretty I am and how wonderful I look.
I would never want to lose that. It means a lot more to me than a weekly grooming session all by myself.
I ‘used to’ have time for myself.
Yes, I did.
A lot of time.
To wonder if I would ever find someone. Dream of possibly having a family one day. And crying because I was so lonely.
I told friends I would never find someone to settle down with. I used to whine and cry and annoy them with my typical, “No one will ever love me!” speech. How they continued to hang out with me sometimes, I don’t know!
Now I have a lot of people who love me and need me and want me all the time. I almost never have time to myself and I almost never go anywhere without one of them with me.
But, despite my complaining and constant wish that I could just get away, I love it. I don’t cry myself to sleep at night because something wonderful happened that day and I had no one to tell. And every day is filled with love and affection… unending most days!
So, I wonder. Why the longing comparisons to the past? If I was so incredibly happy ‘back then’, why did I change it?
If salon visits and first dates and no children was my ultimate joy, why did I so willingly throw it all away?
There must be something pretty amazing here for me to have chosen this path.
Maybe it is time for a mind cleaning. And adjustment in my wordings to more accurately explain the situation.
Instead of I “used to”, how about I “am glad”?
I am glad I got to have time to live my life before settling down. I am glad that I got to know what it was like to work for and have a career before I immersed myself in diapers and bottles.
I am glad I had sad and lonely nights so that when things get tough with my husband I can remember that the alternative is not something I want to go back to.
I am glad I do not have more time for myself. Because that means that I am valuable enough to those in my life that I need to be there for them.
And one day, down the road, I will be glad that I had this time to be with them and love them and have them all the time. This time is so short, and I will miss it.
So though I may glorify what used to be, I am glad I am not there anymore. Because where I am now is where I really want to be.