A comment came in on one of my old posts. I had forgotten its existence. I clicked, interested to read what my old self had to say on the subject… and when I got to the bottom, I hit “move post to trash.” I went through and culled 300 old posts. I don’t always agree with myself six years later. I have passionate views. Over time, they change.
I go through periods in my life when I am “all about” things. Lately, it’s Marie Kondo. I watched her show (twice) and I reread her books. I KonMari’d my house, from my drawers to my kitchen cupboards. I decided to commit to a KonMari lifestyle for awhile, to see if I liked it. I asked myself what kind of home I envision living in that gives me peace and decided: a tidy one. I am gradually changing my habits. Becoming more of the person I want myself to be, a higher ideal. Or at least, a girl who would not be afraid of a friend unexpectedly dropping in and finding her kitchen a disaster zone.
But tidying my environment has made me face something else about myself: my shame.
Shame happens to a lot of people. You feel shame for things you have done or not done. You feel shame about things that have been done to you, over which you have control. You feel shame about who you are, or where you come from, or who your family is, or what amount of school you did or did not have. But, people do not need to live a life of shame. I do not have to feel shame – over myself, my former views, my old posts, or my bluntness (I doubt that will disappear anytime soon; it’s a gift, and the Lord is teaching me how to use it – I hope).
Each time I see a reminder of my “old self,” I wonder if people still see me as “that girl.” It may be an irrational fear. I have new friends who did not know me when I knew everything. With age hopefully comes the wisdom to look back and laugh over youthful conceit. I thought I had it all figured out, and could be quite obnoxious. And I am still far from perfect, but I have learned life has nuance.
I have tackled many things in my life. I always want to improve myself. But this may be the hardest, because I nurse secret pockets of shame – things I said I shouldn’t have, or times when I didn’t say what I should have, things said about me that were true and false alike, a horde of old conversations I look back on and cringe. I never remember the good talks, just the bad ones. They stand out in vivid detail, mocking me for being an idiot.
Maybe Marie has taught me something beyond giving away old T-shirts that no longer bring me joy, because it occurred to me when I hit the “trash” button I should thank that blog post for reminding me how far I have come, to be able to recognize the difference in my younger self than the woman sitting here typing this today, before I delete it. And I ought to never think about it again, because that part of me is dead. I should not live in its shadow.
The idea of KonMari is to move forward. “Is this something you want to take with you into your new life?” No, a lot of things aren’t. Old views and generalizations, biases and a lack of tolerance… these are things I do not want to take with me. So I’m going to thank them for showing me who I used to be, and let them go. Over and over again, if necessary. It has taken me years of shutting the door on some things to help me to stop thinking about them. I used to fear those thoughts. Maybe now is time to face them, let them play out, thank them for reminding me I am no longer that person, and see if they go away. Maybe if I start looking at my shame differently, my attitude will shift and I will feel less ashamed.
I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I’m willing to try.