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When I was on the train back to London after Christmas I noticed the keyring on my house keys.

It was from my previous workplace at a radio station, one of the little prizes they would give out now and then. It wasn’t until that moment I realised how much I’ve learned and changed. Ostensibly I held onto the keyring because I needed a way to keep track of my keys, but part of me also wanted to remember what that job was like in the beginning. The safety and security. The pride in learning a new set of skills.

But for the first time in a long time I realised I’d moved on, and I wasn’t the lost person I had been. I wasn’t the lost soul I had been for the past few months. So I took the keyring off and threw it away.

Of course in the grand scheme of things it’s the tiniest gesture. But personally, it was like admitting to myself that that part of my life was done with, and I was moving on.

Even thought the idea of letting a piece of the past can be painful.

Whether that past is a person, place, job or friend, the fact that we have to set a piece of ourselves loose from our life is sometimes unbearable. Ironically, even if we weren’t that attached to it at the time. But it served a purpose and now, whether we like it or not, it’s gone.

Other times, of course, we let things go because we’re ready. Is there anything more liberating than feeling ready to cut something (or someone) out of your life and banishing the pain to the past?

After being strung along by Mr. Will for months, I remember the day he sent me a text to say he wasn’t interested. I thought then I’d had heartbreak, and felt so lost. But as time went on and I got t know him better, I realised how lucky I’d been. He could be unbelievably selfish, even bordering on cruel. The day I could look back with joy and think how much more I wanted than he could ever hope to offer was a tremendously happy one.

Old relationships and painful experiences are like that keyring. We can carry them around with us so long that we forget they’re there. We learn to live with the pain, or we just become nostalgic for the past we paint in our heads. We don’t let it go because we hope that if we hold onto that last memory it could somehow bring it all back.

But sometimes, for better or worse, you have to take that experience and unhook it. No-one deserves to be chained to their previous experiences forever.

Because when you’re laden down with the memorabilia of the past, you can’t hope to stand up and embrace the future.

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