Having Compassion for Past Me

*Thank you to Dominee for allowing us to share this piece. You can see more of her writing here and her website here.*

Two days ago, I was going through my email and trying to delete the really old ones from over a decade ago. I found some emails I had sent to someone I used to be in a relationship with. The emails themselves weren’t bad or anything but they referenced a lot of things that I didn’t like about myself, a lot of things that I’d done and said that I wasn’t proud of.

I didn’t even remember sending those emails and I haven’t thought about that period of my life in years.

I’m not who I used to be. I can’t even imagine being that person. Fifteen years ago, my life was full of drama. I got into arguments with my friends, I was jealous and petty, and I took everything personally. I verbally exploded on people and I consider the ways that I acted to be abusive.

PastMe wasn’t really a good person.

Ever since reading those emails, it’s been hard to shake the feelings that they brought up. Sadness. Shame. Guilt. I hate that I did those things and I can’t stop wishing that I could go back into the past and change them.

Sometimes the past makes my stomach hurt.

I wrote this blog post nine years ago and reading it helped me today.

“I usually tell PastMe’s story and then promptly stuff her back in the closet once she has taught the lesson of the cost of living life without self-love. She’s like one of those skeletons in biology class that are pulled out for the day. It never occurred to me to love her. Or that there was anything about her that was worth loving. She was an obstacle to get over in the quest of truly loving myself. Not part of the journey. It became normal to dislike her, to despise her, and see her as nothing but a cautionary tale of how not to be.”

I also talked about how I felt that loving PastMe was an important part of my journey. As flawed as she was she did all of the things that helped me get better and brought me to where I am today. But it’s been so long since I thought about the person I used to be. I’ve been so focused on who I am now and the beautiful, gentle, loving life I’ve built around myself.

I needed that reminder that it’s okay to love her.

I am ashamed of her behavior and the things that she did. I’m sorry for the people that I hurt (and I apologized and made my amends many years ago). There’s nothing I can do to change the past. It was definitely something I learned from. So what do I do with this big tangle of big feelings?

I love myself through them.

I needed the reminder not to sit with those feelings of guilt, shame, and sadness. So today, I am reminding myself how far I’ve come and I am grateful for that and that PastMe fought to become the person I am today.

I’m giving compassion to the woman in those emails who was filled with so much pain that it spilled out and hurt other people.

I’m also giving myself permission to let go of her.


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