It wasn’t too long ago that I was a religious fundamentalist with a horrible view of self and a bad mental state. I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. I’ve felt the need to apologize for him much throughout the last number of years. Man, he got so much wrong. But I’m learning not to beat on him too much.
This is all a journey, after all. He is me and I am him. We’re very different people, but somehow, the same. It’s almost as if he was holding his breath. He was trying to fit into a group and a worldview that would never have him. He was always different, after all. Not afraid to break with the status quo, even if that meant a blow to his own reputation. He, like me, wasn’t afraid to be blunt. He wasn’t afraid to tell people what he thought. That hasn’t changed. God, has it not.
In many ways, I’m thankful for him. I’m thankful for what he went through. His experiences and his stumbling. If it wasn’t for those, the current me wouldn’t be possible. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. I simply wouldn’t exist in my current form had it not been for growing up the way I did.
I’ve done things nowadays that would drive the old me mad. There are people who I’ve called out that I never thought I would. These people who I once considered close now see me and the causes I care about in a very negative light. I’m not being facetious. They seem to view me as an enemy. But to paraphrase Paul the Apostle, when you grow up, you put childish things away. Some people simply can’t join you on your journey forward because you’ve grown up and they have not.
But that comes with the territory of change. Somehow, the old me propels me forward in a way not much else does. It’s not that I’m trying to undo everything he did, he simply wasn’t that powerful. Which is a good thing. But he inspires me to continue to be better. To continue to do better. And like I said, some things between us are the same. We’re both people who have a fierce conscience and the courage to change.
Old me reminds me of where I’ve been. He shows me that progress is possible and things are in constant flux. He shows me that change isn’t a bad thing. That we should normalize changing our opinions and worldviews when presented with new information. He shows me how to sit and listen instead of speak. He prophetically tells me to look out for my mental well-being and just how quickly life can come undone.
The old me has taught me more about this life than almost anyone else. He’s taught me to be myself, despite the consequences. The twists and turns that got me here to this moment, are because of him trying to find his way. And I know in ten years from now, I’ll be saying the same of who I am today.
Life is in constant flux. We’re always hopefully growing and changing with the seasons. It’s something my twenties have taught me more than anything else. That I don’t know it all. That I should listen to my gut instinct, it has rarely steered me wrong. If something feels off, it’s usually because it is.
Old me teaches me how to be authentic. I try to never hide who I used to be. I can’t. He’s a part of me. It would be like denying my dad is my dad. He may not be who I am anymore, but he made me who I am. He’s important. As much as I think he was wrong about so much, I cannot and should not disown him.
How I got here is just as important than the fact that I am here. From where I’ve been, I can get an idea of why I truly care about the things I do nowadays.
I hope because I’ve grieved. I love because I’ve lost. I find because I sought. I healed because I’ve hurt. I live because parts of me have died.
It’s not in spite of the negatives that I am where I am today, but chiefly because of them. They made me who I am more than anything. I know I can never go back to who I used to be, but I can look back and see clearly, that it’s because of who I was that I am who I am today.
So, here’s to the old me. You made me a better person. You showed me so much. I love you. I’m rooting for you.