Have you ever had someone tell you ‘You’ve changed so much’ and not mean it as a compliment? Awhile ago, a friend of mine had a chance to see me up close and personal for an extended period of time, although we had lived a great distance from each other for nearly all the years of our friendship. On more than one occasion, she mentioned how much I had changed. It was never said in an overtly nasty manner, but her tone made it quite clear that she was not altogether happy with the changes in my life nor did she understand them.
I understood her perplexed attitude. While we kept in touch in the years prior to this particular visit, our conversations had really centered around her life in the two years or so leading up to this time. She had not seen the subtle changes as they happened so, upon arrival into my life, I am sure the changes seemed glaring and confusing. After all, the last time she had really delved into my life, I was quite a different person. My marriage was different (in tone, not husband), my ideas of what I wanted for my life were different, my level of independence from others was different, my sense of adventure was different. I’m sure the girl who did what she wanted, whenever she wanted, however she wanted, was more appealing in some ways. I certainly seemed more exciting back then, but there were things going on below the surface of my skin that were not good, happy, or healthy.
I had changed from Leah-then to Leah-now and she did not seem to like me very much. Sure, we could still connect on literature, feminism, memories, and during nights out, but I never felt like I was accepted for who I am. I felt like I disappointed her. After hearing that I had changed a couple times, I began to question myself. Was I too settled? Was I too boring? Had I sold out to a life the real me didn’t want because it seemed to give me happiness? Was I just fooling myself to think that I was leading a healthy, fulfilling life even though it might seem boring or dependent or normal?
I disappointed her. I know I did. But my self-examination led me to believe that disappointing her by being myself was better than trying to live up to her memory of who I used to be in order to be accepted by her. I do not know if she will ever understand the choices I made. I thought about her this morning, as I looked around at my peace-filled home, my husband with whom I share a positive, uplifting life, my sweet animals, my garden outside, and all my loving relationships in my community, and I am filled with happiness and gratitude for what I once would have considered a hum-drum life. I might have disappointed her, but I made myself proud. I never thought I would live a life where I woke up every single day surrounded by peace, love, and the other intangibles we all search for. I never knew I could be this happy just living an ordinary life. But now that I have discovered my bliss, I’m going to enjoy it and not let anyone steal it away by telling me I’ve changed too much.