Incarnations of Ourselves
AND the Throwing Up Rainbows Recovery Guide
By Z Zoccolante
How do we mark incarnations of ourselves? Trees hold time with their rings. Oceans rise and fall, the skies swivel different season of stars. We all have scars, seen or unseen, that mark how we’ve traversed through the world. Things we’ve collected. Memories of things we’ve let go.
Some of us have childhood friends, the ones who linger, know all the shenanigans of our youth, the belly laughter at sleepovers late at night, the bad choices we’ve held our tongues from saying I told you so when things fell apart, or the nights we’ve cried leaning into each other for support even in the ether.
For me, the time of childhoods friends is gone like a relic – a cool, rare thing. They’re like a witness to all your past selves. It’s almost like traveling into the past like a close sibling who shares the memories of how you grew up, the details of your family that no matter how you may describe to others, they know firsthand.
It’s the travel partner that you can say, remember when we stayed at that hostel that was a convent in Italy and couldn’t figure out how to buy a can of corn because we didn’t know the words and we kept trying to describe it to the clerk in Italian, “little” “yellow”. And then you both yell, “mais” at the same time and laugh because you remember sitting on the roof trying to open it with the worlds crappiest can opener and celebrating like you’d won the lottery when you finally got it open.
So many of those moments are those had to be there moments.
A friend of mine says that those friendships are beautiful and hard because we’re confronted with past selves. I ponder that – the many ghosts of years past that I’ve been, that I’ve filtered through. The different incarnations of myself.
My long term past relationship knew a part of me that my future love won’t know, not really, and thank God for that. He saw the addiction ghost of myself. He lived with her and tried to love around the ghost as best he could. I suppose in the same way I did with myself.
Often, I find that relationships don’t work out because people change incarnations and then one, or both people, are triggered by the past. I’ll admit this was also me, when I was in recovery and didn’t think I could still be in the relationship because he reminded me of who I used to be when I hated myself, simply by being there. I was triggered by old parts of myself because of his familiarity. We worked through the chaos, lasted years longer . . . But even though ghosts are known to haunt, the truth is that we incarnate a multiplicity of times in this one life.
People are like memory keepers and sometimes losing them can feel like losing bits of ourselves, people that knew us during different incarnations. It’s painful. There’s grief, an empty hollowing out, a shattering internal explosion.
But who ever said that incarnations were neat. Butterflies aren’t made by worms being comfortable and staying the same. I often wonder if it’s peaceful in there – a little cocoon. Or maybe everything worth it takes a flicker of discomfort to change.
I may not have childhood friends anymore but I’m fortunate to have my best friend who knows my incarnations for the last ten years. She feels like home.
And that feeling of home feels like connection to me that comes in waves, in unexpected tides. As it was told to me, the ones we’re “naked” with for whatever reason and have the urge to be our true selves with.
It doesn’t happen every day but when people let you see their magic, when they let you hold their incarnations even for a brief time, we each become memory keepers walking with each other’s stories etched in our skins like some strange upside down.
This week brings the culmination of many years of work to a close for me. Last year I released Throwing Up Rainbows: My Eating Disorder and Other Colorful Things, a memoir of one of my past incarnations.
I’m elated to share this and to know that although this past incarnation of myself taught me many things, it is in fact a chapter of my life that is closed. There was a time when I didn’t believe I could ever be free and now I live free. It’s a non-issue. That’s the magic of shedding skins.
So this week take some time to appreciate your past incarnations. Take some time to give thanks to the ghosts of your past – for what they taught you and who they’ve pushed you to become.
And please share my recovery guide with anyone you know that it might help. May those who need it find it.
With Love & Aloha,