#40 What do you owe your younger self?
iPhone photo “memories” are dangerous. My phone recently resurfaced a photo of a younger me and I became irrationally emotional. I tend to generally avoid looking at the few photos of my childhood I have, because of this exact reason. They often make me want to cry.
I think there’s something terrifyingly powerful about looking at yourself from the past. I remember all my insecurities and pain. I remember all the dreams and desires I had, and above all, all the things I denied myself because of fear.
If you ever have the time and space, I do recommend you bring up a photo of a child you - maybe 10 years old or so, and try to think back to that time. What did you love and hate about yourself? What needs did you have that were met or unmet? Did you feel safe, secure and loved? By others and yourself?
Often when I look into my own eyes from the past I get an overwhelming sense of protectiveness. I want to hug that little girl, tell her things will change, and let her know she’s going to be ok. I wish I could give her a space to talk and soothe her anxieties. I wish I could give her the confidence to do all the things she was too scared to do.
And so when I think of my past, I’m often met with frustration, protectiveness, fierce love and desire to change things. The same feelings I’d get when my siblings were bullied. Almost like a parent. A parent of my own self.
And yet, somehow I still let myself have unmet needs I don’t address. Desires I don’t reach for because of fear and insecurity. I still sit in a few unhealthy relationships and deny the current Elizabeth the self-love I so generously give my past self.
Why is it that I can look at a photograph of myself from 3 weeks ago and fiercely want to reassure and love that girl, and yet in the moment, cannot silence the self critical voices? I feel like my self-sabotaging voice only lives in the present, dies and gets reborn every minute.
If you’re also lovingly gentle to your past self, and yet abusively critical to your current self, let’s stop that, shall we? I love the love I can have for young Elizabeth, and I hold onto that. I can’t change what happened to her, but I can live as the girl she wishes I was. When I’m scared and insecure, I sometimes do things I want to as though I’m doing them for that girl, because I know she would’ve loved to have the chance to do them. I read things, say things, eat things, learn things, open up to and love people, - for her.
When I’m scared of taking a step forward, speaking up, being kind to myself, I harness some of the love I have for little me, keep that little ginger girl in mind, and do it. It really helps.