I have spent my last year in equal parts grief and elation. Elation, because I now hike and hip hop and have a fun part-time job and am pursuing my dreams of working as an actress and a singer. Grief, because for all of the life that’s bursting up around me, the years I spent alone in my house are shown in their darkest relief.

There are days when I am so overwhelmed by the loss of my early twenties that I don’t want to get out of bed. I feel opressed by the weight of unfairness and I honestly feel like a punching bag for the Universe at large. So in my protest I lay in bed. And the Universe still keeps moving. How depressingly like all those years I’m mourning in the first place.

We were in hip hop last week, doing some stretches when my instructor yelled, “Pick that thing you’re going to leave behind and leave it here with this last breath.” The feeling of nausea that rolled over me was immediate. My very aware brain said, “Leave your anger here.” My heart said, “Screw you, I need that anger. I need that hurt.”

So over the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide if that’s true. There’s a huge chunk of me that wants to think that holding onto the pain of those dark years gives me some sort of motivation. Maybe in the beginning that was true. Maybe fighting for myself in response to those feelings helped fuel the grueling days of just waking up at a reasonable time. Maybe that anger helped to blind me against the chips stacked against me.

But I look at it now, and I think the sadness and the grief have started to take me away from the present. When they hit me like a wave and I allow myself to be taken, I stop seeing the weight coming off and start thinking about all the weight going on while I ate my feelings away. I stop seeing the growth of people joining the #myinvalidlife movement and start thinking how much more I could have done by now if only I wasn’t on the couch. I stop seeing a happy person who’s finally breaking free from so many years of shame and self hate, and start seeing a person who’s been unfairly saddled with too much heartache.

And look, all those grief-coated observations are true. They’re at least part of a bigger truth. But like Hannah Gadsby mentioned in her special, I can’t move on to accept the story if I’m still living in the setup (in her case, of the joke, in my case, of the rest of my life). I find that hope and positivity are much greater motivators than the heavy, double edged sword of pain. Because letting that fuel you comes at a price. The weight of having so much darkness around makes the road forward feel that much steeper.

So this week I’m leaving that grief behind, a little bit at a time. I’m telling myself that I’ve had my time to mourn, but that pain doesn’t serve me anymore. I’m pulling myself into the life I’ve built in the here and now. I’m choosing hope for a better future and gratefulness for the progress I’ve already made.

What do you need to leave behind this week? How can I help?

 

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