I called San Diego home for 36 years. 36 years of memories– joyful, painful, and everything in between.

And in the six years I’ve been gone, every time I go home, I’m hit with agony. And for a long time I didn’t know why. Nostalgia is a tricky thing. This one was such a mix of feelings and emotions, I didn’t know what they meant, if anything. Did I want to move back home? Was I angry that we left? I couldn’t make heads or tails of it all, but I knew something was happening.

During the summer of 2014, we went home for a vacation and rented a house on the beach. This area, Mission Beach, held many, many memories for me. I went for a run one day and as I turned my head to look down the boardwalk at other runners, skateboarders, and early morning beachgoers, I thought to myself:

Everything has changed, but it’s all the same.

I had changed. I had evolved and grown dramatically. But, it all looks the same. And for some reason, when I step foot into this city, there’s a part of my heart that remembers. Remembers it all. And maybe…maybe that’s what I was trying to get away from when we left.

When we left San Diego I was at the end of my drinking career. I had just admitted to myself, my husband, and a dear, trusted friend that I had a problem. I quit about three weeks after we left. So, when I go back home, I feel like there’s a part of me that still exists. An old ghost of myself that’s still confused, suffering, and lost. Looking for answers. Looking for a solution. Looking for peace.

How do we make peace with our former selves? The parts of us that are still tormented, still brokenhearted?

I think it starts by not running away from the pain, struggle and problems anymore. Looking at it all square in the face. Getting curious about it instead of shoving it down to the sub-basement of our soul. Being okay with the fact that peace might need to be made. Sort of easing into it like settling into your favorite chair. Letting go of thoughts like, “This is stupid, I should be so much better than this by now. It’s been years.”

Because time doesn’t heal all wounds. Moving doesn’t heal them either. And I’m sure as shit that pushing it all away doesn’t heal us, it just puts it away for it to catapult back up when we least expect it.

When we can dance with all of that, then the question becomes: Who do we want to be? What do we want our story to be? When we’re so used to the story of pain and struggle, when we make peace with all of that and sometimes walk away from it, what’s next?

I know for me it’s been simply having more compassion with myself. Accepting that life is my teacher and I’m the forever student. That my path is my purpose. I want to be a woman who tells the truth not only to others but to herself.

Because yes, everything changes and it’s all the same.

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