We get to start over— as many times as we need to.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have to clean up our messes.
That doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibilities.
That doesn’t mean we’re not still carrying much of what we’ve been carrying.
It means that we get to reinvent ourselves. Redefine who we are.
We don’t have to stick with an identity, goals, or habits that no longer work for us.
One of the things that held me back for YEARS was believing that I had to keep being who I was.
Who I was, in this case, was defined by other people— and my past mistakes.
I thought I had to keep seeing myself through my parents’ eyes.
I thought I had to see myself through the eyes of the people who I’d disappointed— people who liked me once upon a time, but who had soured on me.
Every time I thought of myself through those peoples’ eyes, I got sad. My level of motivation plunged.
Why bother continuing with this “recovery” thing, which is complex and difficult, if I’m only ever going to be “that” guy?
(There’s that “why bother” question we were talking about the other day once again.)
I thought I had to keep being that scared little boy who I was for much of my life.
I thought I had to keep being that kid who, often, purposefully said and did weird things in order to create distance from himself and anybody who dared to get close.
I thought I had to keep being that guy who would make up any and every excuse to slip away and indulge in a substance or behavior that felt good— no matter what it did to his relationships or projects.
I’ll be the first to tell you: recovery ISN’T worth it if we are condemned to being who we used to be, indefinitely.
But we’re not.
We get to change.
We get to choose who we are now, and who we’re going to be in the future.
We do not have to keep being who “they” remember us as or who “they” expect us to be.
For a long time I was skeptical about the idea of “reinventing” myself. What would that even mean, to have a blank slate? To start over?
Surely there’s no such thing as starting COMPLETELY over, is there?
Well— yes and no.
We can’t “reinvent ourselves” out of our responsibilities.
Our “blank slate” will still have to acknowledge our debts and our commitments, especially to certain other people.
But we can meaningfully start over in our own head and heart.
We can forgive ourselves for what came before.
We can commit or recommit to treating ourselves with respect and fairness.
We can decide that, from now on, we are going to make ourselves a priority in a realistic, sustainable way.
We can decide that, from here on out, we have our own back.
From here on out, we are on our own side.
From here on out, making the inside of our own head and heart is going to be job one.
Don’t get me wrong: starting over like this WILL have its false starts.
There is no limit to how many times we get to push the “reset” button in our relationship with ourselves.
Push it as many times as you need to.