What Could Have Been?

This post is going to be a mindfulness coach’s nightmare for it has be outside of the present but it is on my heart to share and the thoughts have been very present for me. I do not write to please or to seek validation. So even if someone reads this and tells me these thoughts will make me unhappy or they are wrong, I will let them fall. I am not perfect and with imperfection comes thinking that is not considered “ideal” but here is the difference for me that allows me to let the thoughts enter; I do not let them define me, my future, my behaviors, or my dreams. I let them be what they are without manipulating myself or my emotions to accommodate their presence. I think them and I release them when I come to my own state of closure. But I do not wait to live and to love and to be happy until the closure comes. I keep going despite it all.

With that being said, here come the words currently residing in my mind. This time of year raises up a lot of emotions and memories into my life. Not too long ago at this time I was planning for myself a completely different future than I am living now. Certain events and circumstances have brought what once was to the forefront of my mind. When I look back, there is an ever present question; what could have been? If I had not allowed the anorexia to break what I was building, what could have been in a past relationship?

I wonder what could have been if I did not allow rituals to disrupt conversations, having to end discussions so I could go eat because I was too ashamed of what I did to do it in front of him. I could not expose the behaviors or let him into the secret life I had. I did not want him to see the ugly parts, the moments I was afraid would tarnish what we had, what I was so scared would carry into our future and ruin what we were creating. I wanted him to keep picturing us eating breakfast together and cooking in the kitchen. I did not want that vision to be tarnished by what he would see me doing in the midst of the disorder. I needed to keep the dreams pure. How many more beautiful words could have been spoken? How many more laughs could have been shared? How many more times could I have felt seen and heard in a time when that is all I wanted? How many more minutes could I have escaped?

I wonder what could have been if I did not live in lies. If I had not made promises and plans that I was too scared to keep, too trapped to fulfill. We made lists of things we would one day together, places we would go, experiences we would share. And I would excitedly agree to them all, but knew with the disorder present, I would not allow myself to partake. So I imagined and I dreamt and I created with my heart as my mind shut down ever y single idea. All I ever wanted was before me. My fairy tale was being written. But I denied myself from owning it. I loved the future that could have been. And every night I pictured it coming to life. However I knew then that is as far as it would go. I knew it would not go beyond wishful thinking. But how do you tell someone that? How do you tell someone who is giving their heart to you that your loyalty will always go the disordered thoughts? How do you tell someone who is trying to bring hope into your life that you cannot go against a mental illness that is only out to destroy you? How do you tell someone who is building a place for you in their life that you do not have enough room for him and a disorder?

I wonder what could have been if I let in love. If I let the words spoken to me out of compassion and sincerity and admiration seep into my heart instead of denying them.  Every compliment given I fought to accept. I did not allow myself to appreciate the looks he would give me, feeling embarrassed by what he wanted to see. Every gesture of love, I could not grasp. A new world was opened to me but I was afraid to leave the one I created. Here was this world of being embraced for all that I am, all that I was, and all that I would be, a world where my flaws were loved and I was perfect with no make up and my hair not done. It did not matter the mistakes I made. It did not matter what I saw in the mirror. He only cared what his eyes, the ones I believe were placed by God to speak into me what I was created to be, saw. I could not understand how someone could look at me, at my most vulnerable, and still see someone to love. I could not comprehend how one could see Jenna when most just saw a disorder. And that scared me. I was petrified to let myself be a part of something so beautiful. That world of light and of love I was afraid to call home. I was not yet ready to leave my place of darkness.

I wonder what could have been if I decided that life was worth giving a try. I reached a point where I gave up. The happiness was too much. The possibilities were overwhelming. And instead of going on the road less traveled, knowing I had someone to walk it with me, I stared behind me at the path I knew so well and ran back to it. Instead of taking a chance on a life I could love that was so full of unknown which had the chance to be all I ever wanted, I went straight back to the sureness of the darkness. Instead of letting hope and love have a room in my life, I let the depression and disorder take its places.

I am not saying had the disorder not existed that I would currently be in a blissful relationship and this one would have survived. I cannot tell you what the fate of it would have been. But I do wish that I had given it a fair shot, that I had not written it off before it even started. I do wish I allowed it time to grow, to become, to develop into something more. I do wish I kept it a relationship of two, just him and I without the presence of any of the thoughts that constantly bombarded what we were trying to build together. I do wish I let go more so more memories could have been made and more joy could have been shared together. I do wish so much of what I remember that was good my mind did not pair with what I made bad. With him in one location and me in the other, I was able to live two different lives. At the same time I was talking and laughing with him, I was home obsessing and using behaviors. Minutes before Skyping with him, I was standing on the scale crying out of frustration. Seconds before sending him a good morning text, I was exhausted from going up and down the stairs compulsively. My mind will go to the bad of what I was doing and the thoughts that were present whenever a memory is brought up. And I wish that I could have had those blessed times stand on their own. I do wish I gave this person all of me and not just the fragments I deemed acceptable.

And as I sat in bed last night, pondering writing this, being in the place I can now take a step back, I was opened to the truth. I tried while in it to find faults for me to get out. When I was out, I tried to find flaws to justify why I left. And all of them were putting the blame on everything but the main cause. I was projecting my own insecurities and behaviors into another to deflect. The things I saw flawed and got mad about in the relationship were actually the things I was unhappy about with the disorder. I did not want to admit that what I was carrying in me what destroying what was around me. It had my loyalty over any relationship. I did not want to find fault in the disorder.  It was easier to put it on something else than to have to face it in the mirror every day. I would have rather defended what was killing me than to let in what was restoring aspects that were taken from me. And with that, I am now left with wondering what could have been.

And I say these things, exposing a huge part of my heart, for you to look at your own life. Perhaps you are in the place where you are denying yourself what you deserve, where you are destroying something beautiful someone is offering you because you are scared. You are scared to let go, to let them in, to leave behind all you knew. Perhaps you are in the place where you are deflecting, not wanting to expose your demons for what they actually are. You are scared to look at what your life is right now and admit that it is destroying your future. Perhaps you are in the place of constant what could have beens and you want to be free of a life where that is all you question. You do not want to sacrifice another memory, another relationship, another experience, another trip because of what has a hold on you and what you keep choosing to let rob you.

Life may offer you a second chance but that is never a guarantee. So live now. Love now. Let yourself be free to experience now. I cannot undo what has been done, but I can learn from it. I can choose to try, to do, to be much more next time around.  I can choose to be free.

Hope, love, and blessings,

J.L.