Coming face-to-face with a bin of photos from the past that had been hidden away, uncovers emotional healing and personal reclamation
This summer, clicking through the channels on TV with my son, I came across a series that CNN was airing; The Eighties, The Nineties, The 2000’s, etc. It highlighted everything from world politics, music and film to celebrity, fashion and trends — it painted a picture, a time capsule of sorts. The plastic storage bin in this photo, that has been sealed with packing tape and tucked away under the bed in my childhood room, was my ‘Nineties’…and I haven’t looked at it since.
I recently pulled it out, dusted it off and cracked it open. Aside from the immediate entertainment factor, OMG, look at me amazement, I was actually shocked that I hadn’t dove into this before. Yes, this is what pre-digital life looked like; piles of prints that were the result of rolls of film being dropped off to be developed. Remember when we thought we were so technologically advanced when film processing could be turned around in an hour? We never could’ve imagined that one day our phones would not only provide us with instant gratification — we’d have the capabilities to edit, crop, filter and perfect every image we put forth…and thus the stories that went along with them.
Of course I was amused looking through this, but I was also incredibly intrigued by not only how much I had forgotten, how many people I was no longer in contact with and how many others had passed away — but what I was supposed to do with it all now? It was a mixed bin of feelings to say the least.
Our lives are full of chapters; some more memorable than others. Some we choose to hold onto, some we’d like to kick to the curb.
Been there done that, get it (truly).
But our lives aren’t iPhone editable. We can run. We can hide. We can deny old stories and truths about ourselves. We can toss boxes of photo albums and diaries documenting pieces and parts of our stories under our beds or in dark closets and pretend that they aren’t a part of us. But it doesn’t erase them or their role in our sum total, our whole being.
The chapters of my life have been demarcated by professions, husbands and dramatic events. And once I had entered the next, I thought I had shut the door behind me — adios to the last. But between those ‘big’ events were all of the significant little ones; the choices made, the feelings felt, the paths taken — each a critical ingredient in the recipe of our lives.
Sure, your taste buds can change and evolve, but we can’t pretend away our past (and though at certain times this is hard to believe…you don’t really want to).
Everything about the 1990’s was big for me — big money, travel, love, success, pain and plot twists. At the beginning, I was at the pinnacle of my modeling career, but by the mid-nineties I would decide to walk away. I would end one marriage and enter a new one. I would make abrupt shifts from traveling the world to working in a law firm and going back to college. I thought that in order to navigate these transitions I needed to be ‘all in’ — to let go of one thing to begin another. But it was all a part of me. It couldn’t be edited out.
Now when I look at this box, I sigh and I’m grateful that it still exists. Growing up in a world pre-Internet and social media, we didn’t document our every move or morsel of food we put into our mouths. This box tells the stories that the journals from that time, that I long ago destroyed, can no longer tell. It reminds me of my journey to here. It helps me recollect the essence of the young life-adventurer who didn’t know where it was all heading, but kept on truckin’.
Instead of being in such a hurry to grow up, to arrive at a certain destination — I could now scoop it all up; the shame, fear, guilt, unworthiness, and self-admonishment. And I could hug it all and her, the brave young girl who once got on an airplane headed to Paris by herself 2 months after her 16th birthday. She got me to here. She laid the breadcrumbs out on the path for me to retrace decades later.
I owe her an apology.
But I think she already knows that because in opening this bin…together we laughed and cried and remembered it all.
This time was different. I closed the lid, taped it back up for safe-keeping and carried it to my car. It was time to come home…precious cargo.
No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter how many wrong turns you’ve taken…it all led to here, to you in this moment — desiring to see it all, to reveal its deeper meaning, to show up as your Best Self, and to embrace and embody the value.
And to stand as a testament to the fact that you are strong enough to handle what came before you and what’s on the path ahead.
If you’ve got a bin under the bed or in the attic, whatever your equivalent may be — crack it open. Travel down memory lane with self-compassion and gratitude for the ride. It all matters. You matter through all your incarnations. You are precious cargo.
You may also enjoy reading Freedom From Our Un-Serving and Negative Thoughts, by Annette Quarrier