Sometimes I feel like I’m letting everyone else down by asking the question Who am I now? Because I continue to come up with new answers, and those answers continue to lead me away from who I once was. And sometimes away from the people my older self was closest to. For me, on a good day, it feels like the phoenix of my identity is rising! But, here’s the problem, as I try to continually shed my old identity (because every moment we are a new version of ourselves) it can feel like some people I love dearly try to grasp and cling to it.
Here’s an example. My parents are amazingly supportive, and have been my sounding board as I continue to ask these questions of who I’m becoming. But then in some moments like this, right now, they are watching old video clips of me in a show I did and was interviewed for… actually my last show I did before I got sick. I hear it playing in the background and it’s like someone punched me in my stomach. “That was such a great show, wasn’t it Zina?” I hear my mom say from their living room. “Yes mom.” Yes it was.
Could I be that person again right now, just for a moment? Black lashes, red lipstick, heels, and dreams? Before I knew about liver enzyme levels, and blood panel numbers that all have negatives next to them. Before I knew about what mortality feels like in your cells battling each other. Before I woke up. Just right now for a moment- I promise I won’t tell anyone you let me step into my old life for a big inhale, to soak it in, how light and sparkly it was.
Yes, I can take a trip in my memory, but it’s just not the same. Which I grieve. It’s like looking through underwater, or frosted glass. I could cry right now for the weight and sorrow of it all. I feel the heaviness in the back of my throat, the clenching. I realize I’m holding my breath, and I sigh out. Ahh, relief. Big breath in, big breath out. Look around. Oddly enough, the colors in this room right now are brighter than the ones in my memory. Much more vibrant. My breath is real. The weight is real, but so is the color. The past is past. The present moment beckons.
This is a drastic example involving 6 years of time, illness, and change in who I am. In a smaller simpler way, though, this is happening every moment of every day, as our past selves fade from the moment, and a new reality appears. We are constantly growing, changing, evolving.
I am trying to make this moment okay. Sometimes that’s exhausting, but honestly, most of the time, it is okay. And it’s much more exciting than the past, because this moment is still unfolding into mystery, whereas the past has already been known. Not so exciting when I think about the past that way, it’s more like old news. This present has potential for discovery. For new things. In the present we actually feel. Feel it all. Which can be overwhelming, but vital. .
It continues to feel sad to let go of our former selves, our former lives that we will be forever shedding like snake skin. It is so hard to make choices, or to have them made for us, that make us feel like we’re disappointing the people around us that we love the most. By becoming more yourself, in the most authentic and present moment version, it can feel like we’re hurting others who need or want us to be who we once were.
When I worry, I remember that everyone else around me is stronger than I can imagine, they’ll get through it too without me protecting them, and they’re growing into their present and next selves in the same way I am. It goes both ways: I don’t want to treat them like their past selves either. There’s space for us all to continuing to grow into the next version of ourselves. Truly there is no one else we can be, and we’re in this evolution together.
And suddenly I hear myself on that video in the background and giggle, oh how naïve I was. How sweet. How frozen in time. And I stretch, because right now I can actually move freely, and with choice, and am not trapped in a video box.
There are some people we will let down as we change. We just will. But we can’t take responsibility for it all, or be too afraid to take a breath and step into now. Wishing you the continued space and courage to be who you are becoming, and to allow your relationships to shift with you.