What might have been

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
George Eliot

I could have been a lot of things. I’ve made choices that I’m not proud of, and then redeemed myself by making different choices later on. Or, at least, tried to redeem myself. The sad fact of life is that you can’t undo the things you’ve already done.You can’t un-say what you’ve said. You can’t un-make what you’ve made. We are always heading forward and anything we want to change has to be based on what we want to be in the future, not what we wish we had done in the past.

Writing, for example, has been something I wanted to do for a long time. One of the things I realized recently is that when I was over-drinking I wasn’t writing. Not writing makes me feel like I’m not alive. Or maybe, when I feel like I’m not alive, I stop writing. I have more plans than hours in the day, I want more lives than the single one stretched around me. I am the kind of person who gets bored easily, wants frequently, thinks quickly and feels all the things. Being moderately sober has made me restless. I’m longing for the things I might have been, and still want to be. When I stumbled across this quote it gave me hope. Being moderately sober means I can make plans again. When I was over-drinking, I didn’t make plans beyond a single day. And even then, my morning plan might be to stop drinking, and it would fall apart by 8pm. It hurts us, on a very deep level, to watch our willpower crumble like that, day after day, week after week. It hurts us to look ahead and behind and see the time spin in limbo, waiting for nothing, escaping everything. Just drinking as my only reprieve from the grey fog.

Tackling sobriety means making plans again, because that’s what humans do and we’re re-joining the ranks of humanity. Getting stuck in the “what might have been” trap is easy, when you feel like you’ve wasted a lot of time. Look ahead. Plan forward. Time only runs one way for us, so acknowledge all the loss and stupidness and regret with a deep breath and then move on. We can’t change our past, but we can leave it behind us.