We’ve been cleaning out the final part of our basement that still needs to be finished. I fully expected to reminisce while going through box upon box of junk that we’ve collected over the past 10 years. My heart smiled when I found our wedding box — full of cards, old love letters, scrap photos, and stuffed animals. Digging through that box brought back so many fun things to memory. As I got ready to scrap the box, my husband noticed a small book in the bottom of it.
“What’s this?” he asked. And as I turned around to see the book that was resting in his hands, my eyes dilated and my heart pounded. I couldn’t grab it from his hands quick enough — he smiled and said, “oh, this is going to be good”.
It was an old diary that I’m pretty sure I threw away years ago. I began mentally flipping through the pages in my head as he settled down into a chair to read every.single.page of this diary. This was it. Ten years later, he would see just how crazy I was when he first met me. From pining for boys that were out of my league, to the boys that broke my heart, to the bitterness I had built up in the first years of marriage with him.
He got to the middle of the diary and ran his index finger down the middle. He looked at me with a solemn look, “there’s some pages ripped out”. I took a deep breath and exhaled while finding a place on the opposite sofa across from him. Memories that I wanted to forget forever. Memories that only I would have, not him. He’s only heard the stories. He closed the book and tossed it to the side. We weren’t stupid, we both knew what those pages were about. He smiled that smile that gets me — because he gets me. Grabbing the book again, he handed it to me. “You should read this, it’s pretty hilarious. Minus a few pages.”
He continued to pack and unpack boxes. He’s good at organizing when he wants to. I took another deep breath and opened the pages. I laughed during the first few entries. Was I really this crazy as a teenager? Holding my place, I laughed and asked him if he knew how crazy of a girl I was when he married me. We agree that he was clearly blinded by love. And he responded, “if people would read that now, they would think someone other than you wrote it….that’s not you. Not anymore, at least.”
Shaking my head in disbelief at what I was reading, I continued. I stopped momentarily at the ripped pages — a part of life no one wants to remember — and passed over them. I got to the pages that housed the first moments of our relationship — our first date, our first everything. How in love we were back then, but it wasn’t love at all. I was thankful that we finally realized just how good true love was and what it was, but it took work….work that was worth it.
I finally got to the end and quietly closed it. The emotions that I went through were not easily explained — those old, crinkled pages had done me in. Dropping it into a large trash bag, I turned and said, “well, that’s that….it’s thrown away now.” He tried to get me to keep it — because, what a fun story that would be to look back on another 10 years from now. But it wasn’t me. It was a part of me, but sometimes in life, we only want to remember the good things. The positive things. There were things in there that I had completely forgotten about….but not the good things.
There was something to be learned from it all, though. When we’re walking through fire, it’s hard to understand why, or even how we’re going to make it through. There were so many times I could remember the heart ache and fear in my words as I read through those pages. Feeling like I’d never make it through or that I wasn’t good enough. Those fires, they are so refining. They might not feel like it in that moment, but my goodness, if I had never walked through them, I would never have become who I am today. I wouldn’t be the woman I am now. They might not be fires I want to remember, but they are certainly burnt into my soul for all of eternity.
There was another, more important lesson in it all, though. People change.
He was right about one thing — if I had given that book to anyone else to read, they would have never guessed it was from me. Because I’m not that girl anymore. Like day and night.
Never, ever, think you have the right to judge someone that you haven’t spoken to in years. Because they might not be that person anymore.
But more importantly, don’t judge yourself for who you used to be. I quickly found that I started judging myself again. I started downing myself. I started thinking about how crazy I used to be or how self-conscious I once was. But I smiled when I stopped myself and reminded myself of who I am now. Right here, in this moment.
If you have to, make amends, find forgiveness, and move on. Laugh at it. Cry about it. But never stay back there — stop looking back….you’re not going that way anymore.