After arriving back in the USA a few days ago, I’ve been busy cleaning out all of my old boxes. Although I just moved back from China, my goal is to move abroad again for my Master’s Degree soon. Thus, all of the clutter in my old room and closet needed to leave.
As I pulled out old boxes and rummaged through dusty drawers, glimpses of the past kept appearing.
My fingers were stained pink and blue from oil pastel paintings made in residential treatment for my eating disorder. Babies surrounded by darkness, blood-red monsters devouring me, trees half blossoming and half diseased – images of despair and hope mixed with every color.
Boxes stuffed with birthday cards, handwritten notes, and Post-It reminders from roommates slipped through my fingers as my eyes grew watery. My grandmother’s handwriting that I hadn’t seen in years, a woman I met in a bus to Michigan, apology notes from teenagers who teased me – each word in the notes and cards carried the weight of numerous other memories.
Maps of Oxford, old treatment plans, and diaries from when I was nine were thrown in the trash for the first time. Tears nearly spilled out but couldn’t quite make it out of my eyes. I didn’t need to cry; I only needed to mourn.
Yet, even while mourning, I found joy, hope, and confidence. I’d grown so much in China. I grew in Florida and my university too. Yet, China really helped me to blossom.
I no longer need to cling to the past. I am happy and finally letting myself feel that way. Part of me fears this joy will disappear, and I’ll fall back into despair. Yet, I’m mostly just relieved to enjoy life.
I traveled across the world. I took care of myself. I found love, peace, confidence, strength, and joy.
Letting go of the past still isn’t simple, but it is possible now.