Seven years ago I left Gainesville. I left after the worst heartache I had experienced up until that time. Every time I came back, I cried. Every time I came back, I yearned for the life I had here. I put my life here on a pedestal, nothing would ever compare. When I tried to explain to new relationships, I would eventually say, “You’ll never understand.” A piece of my heart always stayed in Gainesville.
Tonight as I went to dinner alone, and walked home alone, it hit me…it’s time to release my past here. I am not my past. I am not who I was 7 years ago. Even if I came back, my life here would be so much different. I held on for 7 years, afraid if I released the 9 years I lived here I would lose myself. I now know that’s impossible. So Anne, my love, this letter is to you.
Dear Anne (the one who ran 7 years ago),
I know right now you’re in excruciating pain. I know when you come home and see his van not parked outside, your heart aches. I know you think that you can make the emptiness go away by drinking a bottle of wine and smoking a pack of cigarettes each night. I know you think that by getting as thin as possible, you’ll finally be happy and love yourself. You won’t. You know that. You know that as soon as you start eating again the weight will come back. Deep down you just want the pain to stop. You would rather feel physical pain than emotional pain. I know you cry yourself to sleep, wondering when you can finally live your life.
I hate to break the news, but you have even more heartache coming up. The thing is, by numbing all the pain you’re feeling, you’re going to continue to get the lessons in your life until you finally learn how to love yourself. I know you think by leaving Gainesville, you can just leave all the pain there. You’re running. You’re running because you don’t want to face yourself.
Gainesville does not define you. The band does not define you. Being a teacher does not define you. Your friendships do not define you. The amount of beer you can drink does not define you. All of those things will transform or disappear and you will still be there, grasping for the next thing to try and identify yourself with.
You know what people remember you by? Your laugh. Everyone who meets you talks about your laugh and how it brings them such joy. Right now you feel like you have nothing special to offer the world. The world you identified yourself with is falling apart and right now you wonder if anyone will ever love you again. Right now you go out into the world, smile and laugh…and then go home and numb the loneliness again.
The only other pain deeper than a broken relationship is the breakup of the band. I know. I know you wanted that to be your life. I know you saw yourself touring and becoming a rockstar. The joy you felt on stage was scary as fuck, and a more intense high than you could ever describe. I know that the music vibrated in your soul and you would completely lose yourself. I know that every time you go back and listen, you can take yourself back to the feeling of being on stage and it hurts all over again. I know that you so badly want others to understand, but they never can. Your experience is yours and yours alone.
Seven years later, and I’m back. My intention was to come back and visit, but I’m feeling called to release you. We’ll have our own moment, just the two of us, off of a public platform. There you can tell me all the things you want to tell me. For now, just know that the pain you’re going through is going to be used to help so many others heal. You don’t know this yet (and you’ll fucking laugh when I tell you), but you’re a Spiritual Mindset Coach. I know…I know. You’re still a teacher, but now you teach women. Your dad was right, you are spiritual (and even a little religious now too. I’m sorry!!) You’ll have your stage again, but this time it’s just you in the spotlight speaking to and coaching others. I know, public speaking scares the shit out of you but we’re just going to have to deal with it in order to serve others. All the writing you’ve done all these years was never a waste. You now write blogs, powerful Facebook statuses that help so many others, and you’re in the process of writing a book. We’re going to be a best-seller. I can just feel it.
You used to drink every night, now you barely drink.
You only exercised to attempt to be thin (thinking it would bring you happiness), now you’re training for a marathon.
You rarely shared your opinion if you felt others were smarter than you, now you speak confidently.
You hated traveling by yourself, now you’re prepping to travel the U.S. alone…with Guinney and Smitty.
Spending time in solitude felt like torture, now you spend hours on a meditation pillow.
Your pain has served its purpose. It’s time to allow yourself to fully embrace your growth so you can feel confident in being your true self 100% of the time.
Thank you, for all you have taught me and all the lessons of growth I have received. Thank you for spending 9 years here and giving me an amazing place to come back to that feels more like home than any other place. The world needs our gifts. It’s time to fly.