Have you ever experienced one of those situations when you see someone and then after an initial meeting you end up seeing them all of the time. Its generally somewhere awkward like the supermarket and after a brief exchange of pleasantries whilst fighting for a trolley, you part company but then bump into them on pretty much every aisle.
By the time you get to the freezer section, an awkward laugh is all that you can muster in acknowledgement of each other.
Well that’s exactly what happened to me.
There I was minding my own business when I caught a glimpse of someone in the corner of my eye, I turned and before I knew it we were face to face.
Great, I needed this today like a hole in the head.
I’m not going to lie, when this crossing of path happened, I had not been having the best of times. You know the phrase living the dream?
Imagine the exact opposite and you start to get the picture.
I had lost my job in a sham redundancy, been through an employment tribunal and was very much still in the grip of my very own version on PTSD, Post Tribunal Stress Disorder.
My anxiety was at an all time high whilst my self esteem and confidence was at an all time low, not the best combination!
To top it off, convenience food and one too many ‘treat days’ had caught up with me, a minute on the lips had undoubtedly gone straight to the hips!
Today, after mustering the motivation to not only get dressed in my old faithful black leggings and sweatshirt, I had also washed my hair, but even that didn’t do anything to change the fact that I looked rather dishevelled.
Typically, and most probably because I looked so terrible, I had to admit to myself that although she looked a little older because I hadn’t seen her in a while, at the same time she looked pretty good.
Her hair was just tied up in a messy hair don’t care kinda style and although her clothing wasn’t anything to shout about, at least she looked like she was ready for the day ahead.
I really didn’t want to enter into any form of exchange if I’m been completely honest but at this point I couldn’t turn away so I was commited whether I liked it or not.
“I didn’t know if you had seen me, I’ve seen you a few times recently but I don’t think you have seen me”
Oh yeah, I had seen her around but had managed to avoid eye contact….before today of course.
“Are you OK, You look a bit tired”
Nothing like going in strong I thought.
I also remember thinking what a ridiculous question it was, clearly rhetorical.
I would have given points for perception but it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t about to be snapped up for the next front cover of Gratzia, although if they ever produced a sister publication, Non Gratzia, I reckon I could have been in with a shout.
I was tired though, not just physically but mentally, my thoughts were constant, relentless even, I remember thinking that if I could just unplug my brain for a few seconds to get some relief, how grateful I would be.
It was as though I had taken lots of vibrant shades of play-doh, then spent each day mixing them all together to make a grim colour that was unrecognisable.
In the beginning, I would spend time doing my best to seperate them but I couldn’t seem to hold onto one colour for long enough to decide what pot it should go back into.
In the end I gave up even trying, all I seemed to do was overthink the process and add more and more to the already overwhelming mess of colours to sort.
I had learnt early on in this monotonous cycle, that I seemed to be living daily nowadays, that it was much easier to rest the body than it was to rest the mind.
My response was brief.
“I’ve just been through a bit of a rough time recently, that’s all but I’m totally fine now”
I’m not quite sure why, but suddenly I was interested to find out what life was like on her side of the fence.
In complete contrast, she seemed to be doing really well, she had picked up jogging again and as a result had lost a few pounds .
She was also in the process of setting up a new little venture, nothing special, just a little something online that she had been thinking about for a while and I noticed that she had an air of lightness about her that I hadn’t felt in what seemed like an age.
I began to feel a little awkward, I wanted to do those things but right now it just wasn’t an option and regardless, I was still very much in the planning stage.
My train of thought was rudely interrupted.
“If you ever want to come along jogging with me, your more than welcome”
Errr excuse me, pretty rude I thought.
I had not been feeling too great so didn’t feel much like I had the energy for exersize at the moment but I would possibly bear it in mind in the future.
The response , in my opinion was rather harsh.
“I thought that you might say that, I know that you think that your dealing with things in your own way right now, but your not”
Now hold on a minute, this had really put my back up, how very dare she, I barely knew her and here she was acting like my own personal councillor!
In a manor that was much more confident than I felt, I made it quite clear that actually, I was doing alright and although it may not be some peoples idea of ‘living the dream’ I was coming through it and finding my own way.
“I don’t think that you are, I think that you maybe started looking for the key to the way out in the beginning, but the darkness took over and now you have just got used to stumbling around and avoiding the same obstacles that are constantly in your way, that’s not living the dream or otherwise, its surviving”
OK then, Little Miss know it all, what do you suggest, I thought.
“I’m glad that you saw me today, I know that you have seen me before and avoided me but today, I think its time. I could help if you let me”
If only it were that simple I thought to myself.
By this point I really wanted to make my getaway and go back to the confines of my mind where I felt much more comfortable than I did at this moment. I said that I would have a think about it and let her know, after all today was Thursday and everyone in the right mind knows that you never start anything new mid-week.
“So that you can talk yourself out of it and think of an excuse” she replied.
I made the point that I didn’t even know this woman so what did she know anyway!
“You know me much better than you think, you and me are really are very similar, but I’ll need you to trust me. With your strength from the past and my vision for the future, we could make an amazing team but your the one holding us back”
Begrudgingly, I had to admit that a lot of what she was saying was true.
Ironically I had thought the same myself on more than one occasion but obviously I wasn’t about to disclose that particular nugget of information right now.
It had been a long time since I remember feeling anything other than sadness, I had told myself so many times that I would make a change but it was always tomorrow.
Problem was, tomorrow never came, it was a valid point about making excuses, in many ways it had become my superpower over the past couple of years.
But what would I do, where would I start, so many questions and not nearly enough answers, my though process was interrupted again, it was like she read my mind and it was becoming rather annoying.
“I don’t know where this chance meeting will lead and I cant give you any guarantees for the future, but one thing that I do know is that many opportunities come knocking at our door through life and if we ignore them they simply fade away. If you don’t answer today, one thing that I can guarantee is that you will wake up tomorrow and every day afterwards and nothing will ever change”
I knew those words, my Dad used to say them all of the time when I was growing up.
The tears that I had successfully managed to keep a check on over recent months were now in serious danger of presenting themselves and I felt that I was losing control of the situation….. and fast.
“We must accept the things that we cannot change but have the courage to change the things that we can”
Again, so familiar.
A very good friend introduced me to that saying many years before, she was a great philosopher but ironically, could never remember the conversation, even though it was her finest hour!
At that moment, I realised that in order to move on to a better future, we must accept that we cannot change the past
But why today I thought.
The answer was simple, But why not today?
I nodded and almost like a silent handshake we sealed the deal.
“Looks like its going to be a good day today” she said.
As I turned and looked up at the sky, I was inclined to agree.
Through the droplets on the window I could see that the heavy grey clouds were slowly starting to lift allowing the suns rays to shine through, familiar shades of colour began to form an archway in the distance.
As I turn back towards the mirror, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that I finally start to recognise the reflection starting back at me and for the first time in a long time, we smile together as the realisation dawns on me, that in order to truly appreciate the beauty of our rainbow, we first must endure a little rain.
The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing but we only have it once we have already shown courage, strength and determination by taking the first step on the path to change.
Many times, we are so focused on moving forward and concentrating on the things that we have yet to do rather than taking a moment to look back now and again and give ourselves the credit for how far we have come.
Take a few moments to think about what the new you would say to your old self, only then will you realise how far you have travelled.