Saturday, December 3, 2016

Today, I Realized I Was Living in the Past

Today, an interesting thing happened. I realized I've been living in the recent past. To clarify, I don't mean specifically that I can't let go of my past or anything like that. Those actively in my past have moved forward, as have I. I'm happy for them. I don't burn bridges nor do I hold grudges.

What I mean, however, is that I have been looking at people and situations that I still consider part of my life, in some cases a big part of my life, as they used to be instead of as they currently are.  For instance, I have a friends that I used to see all the time.  I'm talking like at least once a week, for months or years.  But now, I haven't seen them in months or years.  I often don't even talk to them for months, not counting a Facebook comment here or there.  And yet, I'm still sitting here saying, "I can't believe s/he didn't donate to my Overnight Walk! I can't believe they didn't even acknowledge the email! We're such good friends, I've tried to help her/him so much over the years, donated to their causes, been there to do stuff with them... etc".   But then I sit back and realize I can't remember the last time that person reached out first, other than maybe a happy birthday a few months ago and the aforementioned Facebook or Instagram comment here or there (which I don't really count as reaching out unless it's really personalized).  I realize the last few times we talked (texted), we said "We *have* to get together soon! I miss you!" I realize that I said, "OK I'm free this day and that day and xyz.  Do you want to do this? Or how about that? Let me know." And they never did. They never reached back out, took the initiative, made the plans. And this has happened numerous times over the course or months or even years. It has been all me for a while now. And that's when it hit me:  we were good friends.  Maybe for quite some time. And maybe one day we will be again. But right now, we aren't. Yet I'm holding them to the standard of someone who is. Of someone they used to be, or maybe even who I thought they were. Of the relationship we used to have, not the one we have now. Not who they are to me, or more important, who I am to them, now. And that's not fair, to them or to myself, and I need to let it go.

This happens all the time. I've experienced in reverse. Because of my illness, my health has to take precedent. Which often means I can't be out late, or at all. It means I need my down time, my quiet time, my recoup time, and even when I'm out, I'd often rather do weekend brunch than a night out on the town (read: would always rather). So friends that I spent time with when I made an exception and went out for a couple of people's birthdays don't understand why I'm suddenly so boring, why I never want to go out. And I have to say, "listen, it was fun going out a few times" but I really can't do this constantly.  It's not really me. Or friends who always want to do things in big groups, who think the more the merrier, and I have to say, "listen, big groups give me an anxiety attack, I need one on one time, so I don't think I'll make it."  I'm may feel like rejection to them. To them, our dynamics have to change. They may feel I have changed.

So I sat back and thought further, and I realized that there are a good number situations in my life right now - in my business, in friendships, in personal situations - where I've been holding onto the past. I've been looking at my business as I did as a 26 year old just starting out (12 years ago). I've been looking at friendships I had when each of wanted different things or our life situations were different. I've been looking at personal situations that I thought of one way, based on impressions formed months or longer ago, and have never adjusted. Maybe I changed, maybe the situation changed, maybe someone else involved changed. Maybe my impression was wrong all together, just as the above friends though I liked nights out and big groups based on their initial impressions.  But the bottom line is, it's not the same anymore. And I need to let go of those former beliefs. I can't live in the past. In fact, I get frustrated (SO frustrated) at people who do - people who make the past more of a priority than the future, more of a priority than working with the present to create that future.  But I've been doing that, just in a different form. I've been holding on to who people were when I first met them, or when one or both of our situations were different, who I thought they were. I've been holding onto things that have morphed and changed over the months or years, and am still trying to hold those people or situations to the same standards, expect everything to be the same. And in doing so, I've been hurt. Badly at times.

So I can't do that any longer. I have to stop, take stock of the people and situations in my life, and decide how I'm going to move my life forward from here, with people and situations as they are now - not as they were then, whenever then was. That doesn't mean ditching friends, un-friending them, or whatever. It means realizing they don't play the role they once did, and not expecting them to. It means not holding them to the standards that I do for my current closest friends. I can't get mad at them for not donating or supporting something. I can be slightly disappointed and maybe even a little discouraged and hurt at times, but I can't be mad.  It's not fair to them and it just hurts me over and over. I need to move forward, controlling those things in my life that I can, focusing on those in the here and now - as they actually are, not as they used to be - and creating my future based on these. It sadly may mean that some people or situations I formerly focused on, held in certain positions of esteem in my life, are not looked at the same. But life is constantly changing, and maybe they'll get there again. Or maybe they've played their key role in my life and I in theirs when we both needed it, and now that fades a bit. And while this is sad, because it feels like a bit of a silent goodbye to what once was, it also is a bit freeing. For so long, I was holding in priority people and situations that were based on the past.  And now, I have been freed of that. Now, I can look to the future, basing it on the present and the opportunities it holds now. To those of you who played such an important role when I needed it, thank you. We may not be the same anymore, our dynamic may have shifted, but I wouldn't be the same without you having been a part of my life. 


  1. Maya what a great article and amazing way to look to look at things and bring more positivity into your life!

  2. There is so much truth in what you have written. Different circumstances, but I have certainly had to address this issue since I got married and even more so since I had a child. It is hard but healthy to realize that you can still care about someone but your lives and/or interests have gone in different directions. It is sad but necessary that in order to make room in our life for all the new things that come along we sometimes have to loose things/people who were once important to us.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think that's exactly it - it's not that either of you don't care any more, but your lives are in different places and they may not coincide as much, or even at all, at the present. And they may again at some point, but not at the moment. It seems to go back and forth in life - sometimes you'r the one needing to make changes/adjust, and other times you're on the "receiving end" - and it's important to keep in mind at both times that life is fluid and ever changing. This is certainly easier to remember when you're the one with the obvious life changes, but equally as important to remember when you aren't.