As she walked into the room, the two other women huddled closer. They didn’t notice me, I was just a child. I heard them say it. I wasn’t sure I understood what they meant but I never forgot the words.
“She’s really let herself go”.
I asked my mother later.
What did they mean.
Why did they say that.
She explained that the women had been unkind. They were referring to how the other woman looked. That her hair wasn’t so tidy. That her makeup wasn’t perfect. That she wasn’t dressed smartly.
Why do they care, I asked my Mom.
She said. I don’t know, I guess they like to compare. It makes them feel good about themselves.
Even then, I knew what that meant.
That’s mean, I said.
Years went by and I never forgot that comment. And then one day I found myself thinking it.
That and all the other comparisons that were easy to fire at others, instead of looking within.
I found myself criticizing the woman for not showing up at the school meeting with a cake she’d baked herself.
I found myself wondering why the other woman didn’t bother to dye out the grey streaks in her hair, it made her look so old.
I judged the entrepreneur, it’s easy for him, he doesn’t have kids.
I laughed at the comment he made because clearly he hadn’t read the right books.
And one day, I caught myself.
And I was ashamed. And shocked.
Since when had I become so cynical. When had I chosen fear instead of courage. Chosen judgement instead of compassion.
So I beat myself up about it for a while.
A long while.
And it made me die a little. No longer angry or bitter, but no longer alive either.
So I let go.
And I started reading. And exploring. Doing the inner work.
It’s not easy. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes heartbreaking.
I realized that if I wanted to stop judging, I had to start with me. If I wanted to show compassion, I needed to direct it inward. If I wanted to be more kind, well there was someone who needed kindness. Yes, that would be me too.
It’s a life-long journey. Some days it feels like I’ve just set out. Other days, I’m deep into strange land I’ve never encountered.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve come home.
Today, I’m on a journey, it’s all about letting myself go. But in a really good way.
I’ll tell you more about that next time.
How are you letting yourself go, today? Share below.