How Much Does Your Past Weigh?
Back in 2016 I was traveling a lot for work. I remember one month when I took something like 2 dozen flights. It was nuts and fun and tiring. Either way, I had a lot of time to sit and to think on those planes. I recall one such trip when I was sitting near the back of the plane on the aisle seat. I felt so much stress and fear and anxiety in me that had built up over the years.
It had increased since coming into recovery because I was becoming more and more aware of reality and was beginning to feel all of it.
I was exhausted. I realized that so much of that came from the heavy weight I was carrying with me from the past. All of the things that had happened to me, the things I'd done. That which I had lost. The things I'd missed out on. How different my life was from what I had hoped. I felt like I could hardly move under all this weight. Any tiny thing that was added to it seemed like another 100lbs.
So on one this flight I decided to collect it all up. I closed my eyes and began taking each incident, behavior, word, action, circumstance, etc. and put them into this black bag. The bag grew and grew and grew (which was ok cuz it was one of those non-rip trash bags). I made sure to put everything in there that I could think of. I checked under the bed and in the dark parts of the closet and all of that. Then I took this bag and walked to the edge of a cliff. The drop was deeper than my eyes could see. I held this bag full of all my fears, anxiety and regrets over the edge.
I could feel my Higher Power standing near me. I didn't look over, but I could tell it was in the form of a woman who was about 8-10 feet away from me. She let me know she was there to support me but didn't crowd me or help me at all.
I held this bag over the cliff for a long time. I knew that once I dropped it, there was no getting it back. To do so, I would have to jump off the cliff after it and fall deep into the darkness where my only company would be all of my fears.
As strange as it sounds, I was wary to let go of all of this. It had been with me for so long. And though it was not a pleasant companion, it was a constant one, which offered some odd comfort.
In a way I felt that dropping it off the cliff was betraying it. Betraying the people I'd harmed that were in the bag. Betraying the punishment I thought I had to put myself through because of what I'd done. Betraying the words and actions and behaviors. Betraying the system that told me I had to carry that big bag around with me for the rest of my life. I thought that dropping the bag meant letting go of all I'd done and moving on as if nothing had happened.
Then a strong and gentle voice came to me. It told me that all I was doing by dropping the bag over the cliff was freeing myself of the weight of my past so that I could take responsibility in my present and be a better person in my future.
It said that I was not helping or honoring those in the bag by dragging them around. That I would be in better service to them if I was light enough to actually get somewhere new - to get to that new place that would ensure I never caused harm again. The place where I could help uplift the world instead of drag it down with all this extra weight I'd unnecessarily been carry with me.
It told me to take all the time I needed there on the cliff's edge, it wouldn't affect real time in the outer world.
Though the bag was huge and heavy, my arm easily held it there over the cliff as I considered what the voice had said. Somewhere in me I knew it was right. I was still afraid though. I stood there for a long time.
I became willing and ready.
So I put that fear in the bag as well, and with a deep breath I opened my hand and let it all go. I did not watch it fall. I turned around and nodded to my Higher Power that I was ready to go. Ready to move on. Ready to go to that new place. She offered me a hug, and I didn't need it. I just walked away from the edge. She followed behind me. Neither of us looked back.
Then the plane landed, and I was free.
What extra weight are you carrying around?
Does it serve you and those you love?
How would you be able to show up differently if you let it all go?
I invite you to really think about these questions.
We can't change the past. We can absolutely change how we show up in our present and what we contribute to the world.
As hard as it was for me to accept, I know now that I was not honoring those I'd hurt by carrying that weight around with me, and I wasn't betraying them when I let it all go.
Are you ready to be free?
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