“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.” –Tao Te Ching
To start from Part 1 press “here”
I stand on the sidewalk in front of my house and just stare at the picture of my Father who has been gone for over 13 years. I rub the worn, glossy print with my thumb to ensure its reality. I then return to my truck to retrieve the baseball cap, left by my 14 year old self, and the bandana, left by my mid 20’s self, and go inside the house unsure of what to do with the 3 items or the revelations learned from my past self.
I turn the knob, enter the house and close the door behind me. I walk into the family room and place the items on the table that sits below the 7′ by 3′ mirror that has been in the house since my wife bought the house a few years before we were married.
I stand up and look at my reflection. I stand arms at my side, confused yet contemplative look on my face.
My reflection looks back at me with arms crossed, concerned yet confrontational look on my face.
I blink, rub my eyes and move around like one of those weird windsocks that are on display at car dealerships
I just looked back at me from the other side of the mirror and shook my head back and forth in a ‘no’ motion.
“Have you seen enough?….cuz I have.” I say from the other side.
“I’m tired of talking to myself…I just want this to be over…I want to just live my life without…all this weird crap going on….yes I’ve had enough!” I reply exhaustively.
My reflection uncrosses my arms and begins to bite his bottom lip. After a few moments of thought he speaks.
“You haven’t lived your life in over 13 years…you have had periods of living….but you don’t stay…you always return to wallow in regrets of the past….”
I interject before I can continue.
“What are you talking about? In the past 13 years I’ve stopped drinking…and stayed stopped…I got married and am raising 2 kids with my wife….”
I agree with myself, then my reflection continues…
“But…during that process of growth, you have also isolated yourself. Outside the walls of this house you put on the happy face for the world. Inside you are your 14 year old former self who has to keep things together. You want to be out and about for family events but get so anxious and nervous about being good enough that you retreat in disparity like your mid 20’s self. And no matter what you do…you feel you will never…ever make up for time lost with Dad because of your mistakes…..just like you 31 year old self. In a world full of opportunity and people…you are alone….with yourselves from the past. It’s time to get past me…and get on with our life.”
I let my words sink in…really sink in and realize that I am right. I look at myself and ask,
“How do I get past…me?”
I relax my reflective stance and smile a little and reply.
“All you have to do is forgive yourself. You have spent a lot of time learning about amends to others since you got sober….but you have never made amends to yourself for carrying this weight for so long. Forgive. Let go. Live again.”
I felt a shudder as that sunk in. I closed my eyes and shook it off.
I looked back at my reflection and expected more. What I got was me staring at myself while I bit my bottom lip. I raised up my right hand and waved….the mimic was back.
I looked at the 3 items I placed on the table under the mirror. I placed the bandana and photo into the baseball hat and spoke,
“To my 14 year old self…I’m sorry for giving up hope on myself. You visited me and I told you to keep up hope when I had none for myself. I ask for my forgiveness.”
The baseball cap disappeared.
“To my mid 20’s self….I am sorry for exchanging alcohol for isolation. I was always good enough. I ask for my forgiveness.”
The bandana disappeared.
“To my 31 year old self….I am sorry for not allowing us to grieve and move on after Dad died. He was there for me when I was born and I was there for him when died. Each time we held each other’s hand. That’s all the time we needed. I ask for your forgiveness.”
The photo of my Father did not disappear. It changed into a photo of he and I from years past.
I took that photo and placed it in my wallet for safe keeping.
I returned to the spot in front of the mirror and did the little windsock dance again to make sure it was just my reflection and said,
“Wow. I got a lot of life to live…no better time like the present!”
I turned toward the kitchen with a little bounce in my step.
My wife was standing there, in her pajamas, looking at me with a bewildered look and said,
“Are you talking to yourself, again?”
I looked back at the mirror, chuckled, and then back at her and said,
“Not anymore…there are more important things than me.”