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Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had stayed.
I wonder if things would have worked out eventually, if I didn’t force myself to run away when they didn’t.
I was hung up on the “ifs” for far too long. I loved too much. I put myself first too little, and not often enough. I cared too deeply, and thought too naively.
I spent months and now years refusing to look at photos that still hurt. I hid clothes filled with memories in boxes in the basement.
I had traveled to the other side of the world to learn more about myself, who I was here in those photos, but more importantly, who I wanted to become.
I am still becoming that person.
Transformation is a choice.
One day you can look at those photos again without wishing you could relive them. You’ll learn to appreciate the memories for what they are: a moment that has passed.
So yes, even now I sometimes still wonder what my life would have been like if I didn’t leave. But then I catch myself and level back down with reality. I wonder what my life would be like if I continue this toxic cycle of fast forward, then rewind.
I know the script by heart. I know it forward and backward. I remeember the dialogue, the romance, and the settings like the back of my hand. But no matter how many times I watch this unfold, the story will never change retrospectively.
Life isn’t like the movies. Sometimes the protagonist doesn’t always win on their first try.
This time of year will always remind me of a life I now only remember, and I’m forever grateful for those memories. I loved that time in my life more than anything.
But you know what else I’ve learned to love? Taking chances with each step forward in a new direction.