Everyone in your life knows a part of you that no longer exists. Yet so many of us know people who will not let go of who we were in the past. This is part of why I NEVER attend any class reunions. I never enjoyed my school years and see no point in getting together with people I never liked because they never liked me. I am not interested in hearing all about their Fortune 500 crap or how many times they have spawned. It is boring as hell. And I certainly don’t need anyone trying to place who I am according to who they thought they knew.
I remember when I first changed my name. I was 16 years old and had moved away to live with my sister and her husband and attend high school for my last year and a half. This was a move that happened mostly because the relationship with my father had become an epic mushroom cloud. So when I moved I changed from using my first name to my middle name. It was an easy transition and most people did not even know me by any other name, so that made things easier. But a few years later when I moved back to the community where I grew up for work, everyone, family included, kept calling me by the other name I used to go by. This felt so wrong. I was no longer the person who had worn that name and who left years before. My parents were the worst because I saw them the most. I finally had to sit down and let them know that this was unacceptable and that if they called me by the old name they need not expect any response from me. They changed instantly, realizing that I meant business about this.
Years later, when it came time to take on my spiritual name, Deerhorn, I gave them a phone call and told them that this was what I was doing. They were on board instantly. And while changing my last name to Deerhorn, I officially and legally dropped my first name. The government at that time was unsure as to what to do with someone who did not have at least a first initial. I was insistent that the name simply be Trent Deerhorn…nothing more. Eventually they got their ducks in a row and got the correct paper work completed. Whew! It wasn’t like I was wanting to go by just one name, like Cher, I was just not wanting three names!
Years have gone by and I am also no longer the man who initially changed his name. I have grown. That is what we are all supposed to do. So I do that. I am not really the person that I was last week either. I grow fast! There are things in life that happen, such as relationships, deaths, births, traumas, joys, encounters and so on that enrich our lives. If we think that we can experience all of that and not be changed in any way, we would be delusional.
Not long ago I met up with someone who I knew way back in the beginning of my second marriage. He is a lovely man and we just sort of lost touch with each other because our lives were on different paths. We friended each other on facebook and ended up arranging to go for coffee. It was wonderful. I can hardly wait for my partner to meet him one day. In that coffee date it occurred to me how much we have both grown and changed, yet at the same time how much we both are still so able to fit comfortably with each other over a simple coffee. He was shocked to find out that he actually knows my fully grown daughter, who works in a coffee shop beside where he has his business. Small world. And how nice it is to have those other layered connections.
It is good now and then to meet up with someone from long ago and check in. It tends to show us how far we have come from the last time we saw each other. Life has a way of sneaking up on you and it is easy to lose track of how much you have changed over the last number of years. But I still won’t attend a class reunion. I prefer to reconnect with people who were actual friends. But how do we work with people who refuse to acknowledge who we are NOW as opposed to who we were years ago?
Sometimes it is important to have that very frank conversation with them, like I did with my parents. This provides opportunity for them to show you who they are and who they are choosing to be in relation to you. If they are the types that refuse to change to “accommodate your needs” then they are not worth having in your life, even if they are family.
Another tactic is to correct them every time they call you by that old name or refer to you as being something that you no longer are. Eventually they get tired of the correction process. Some of them may argue with you, and all you have to do is remind them that they know NOTHING of who you are now and that their opinion of you is irrelevant. If this gets heated enough, feel free to borrow my favorite line: If ever I want your stupid opinion about me, rest assured, I will BEAT IT OUT OF YOU. Until then, sit down and shut up.
Know that no matter who it is that you are having a confrontation with about who you are now, as opposed to who you were, if this conversation goes south, it is their loss, not yours. They can choose to be a jerk about it, but you can choose whether or not to have a jerk in your life. Never be afraid to move forward. Always forward, never back. In nature you will never find something trying to un-grow. Blades of grass don’t try to become seedlings. Trees don’t try to become saplings. Birds don’t try to become chicks. Dogs don’t try to become puppies again. They may act puppy-like at times, but they always are aging and growing. The list goes on and on. It is only humans who try to stay as one thing forever. Botox has made a killing with that type of mentality! Age gracefully! Drink lots of water to keep your 70% water body hydrated. Exercise. Appreciate your own inner and outer beauty every day. Treat yourself in loving ways. And know that you are not the same person you were yesterday. And that is a darn good thing!