Once upon a time, there was a woman named Anna who felt that life was not very fair.
You see, not only had her husband left her for a younger woman but her boss at work just promoted someone who had been at the company for a short amount of time instead of her.
Also, her friends didn’t invite her out with them anymore and her landlord sent her a letter to let her know that he would be selling the condo she was staying at, and she had 30 days to move out.
Everything was going wrong, like it always did.
She didn’t understand why she was being let go from everyone she cared about.
She saw herself as a good person being born in a family who had no time for her.
Her mom always favored her sister over her.
She would often watch them laugh at each other’s jokes.
She used to get just a quick hug goodnight and nothing more.
She had tried to communicate her disappointment to her boss about not getting the promotion in the same way she tried to talk to her mom about being ignored.
She would always start by saying “Why didn’t you choose me?”
When her husband left her she didn’t even try to tell him anything because she knew she was always the one being left behind.
Why should this relationship be any different?
She kind of expected this to happen after all.
One morning she woke up and she knew she had to leave it all behind.
She could no longer handle all the rejection she got and decided to pack a small bag and just disappear from everyone’s life.
She didn’t have her own car as she couldn’t afford it so she decided to go to the local bus station and find a bus that would take her as far away from her life as possible.
As she got on the bus there was just one seat left right next to an elderly man.
She had no choice but to sit there.
The man glanced at her really quickly and then looked out of the window.
Anna made sure she got her phone out of her bag so she looked busy just in case the stranger started a conversation.
The last thing she needed was to have to talk to the old man on the bus.
“Where are you heading.” The old man sitting next to her said and turned to look at her.
“Just somewhere else, away from here,” She said and regretted it immediately.
“Why don’t you like it here? I am Spencer and you are?” Spencer said and extended his hand to Anna.
“I am Anna, nice to meet you,” Anna said and threw herself back to her phone shaking her head thinking that if only she could move seats.
This is the last thing she needed right now.
“I used to be like you many years ago,” Spencer said to her and Anna looked at him in a dismissive way as she would normally do with her mom or sister when they tried to understand her.
“I don’t think so,” Anna said and pretended to look for something in her bag.
“Why don’t you think so Anna?”
“You don’t know me so you can’t possibly understand,” Anna said and looked around to see if there were any other seats available so she could move.
“I too wanted to run away from my life a long time ago. I thought nobody liked me or cared about me. But I was wrong,” Spencer said and looked out of the window again.
“Well, I don’t just think they don’t like me I know they don’t. Did your wife leave you? Did you get kicked out of your house? I am certain none of these things happened to you.” Anna said and grabbed her water bottle from her bag.
“My wife left me for my best friend,” Spencer said and Anna nearly spit out the water she was drinking from her bottle.
“We invited him over for dinner one night and they had planned to tell me there and then.”
“What did you do?” Anna said, surprised with Spencer’s response.
“I grabbed my jacket and left. I came back the next day when she was at work and picked up a couple of bags and ran away. Just like you are right now.”
Anna was left with nothing to say. She was quiet for longer than she was comfortable with, but for the first time, she could not say that she had it worse.
“I used to think everyone else had it better than me,” Spencer said as if he could read her mind. “I looked at the world like you do now. Life was unfair and out to get me.”
“But it is out to get me,” Anna said defending herself a little louder than she wanted to.
“You can’t trust your mind to tell you the truth, Anna,” Spencer said and now his whole body was turned towards Anna.
“That is the only thing I have left to trust. My mind. I think you lost your mind Spencer and now you want me to lose mine. But that is the only thing I have left.”
“Your brain is filtering your reality, Anna.” Spencer continued.
“It is only showing you what is automatic and has been thought by you many times before. The more you think about something the more automatic it gets for the brain. Just because you are thinking something doesn’t make it true. It just means that your brain can repeat the same thoughts for as long as possible unless there is a very strong interruption. The brain does not like new thoughts, so it keeps using the old ones.” Spencer said knowing that Anna would dismiss him. (Click to Tweet!)
“My struggles are not fake and how dare you suggest that,” Anna said and got up from her seat even though she knew she had nowhere else to go.
“When did your husband leave you?” Spencer insisted in a very quiet voice. He knew this is the question the brain loves to answer without doing any work. He knew he could get her to sit back down again. The trick worked. It always did.
“He left me 5 years ago,” Anna said and her face looked sad and empty all of a sudden. She stared at the floor and her eyes were fixed on her shoes as if the whole world around her disappeared. “It was a sunny day and I had no idea that my life was going to turn upside down.” Anna continued telling Spencer the story of when her husband left but it seemed as if she was not even on that bus. She was transported to the past and out of the present moment.
“Hey Anna,” Spencer interrupted her and nudged her on the shoulder. But she didn’t stop, she continued to tell the story of that day 5 years ago. “Anna look at me,” Spencer said and finally got her to look up.
“You went to the past and left this bus,” Spencer said with a half smile on his face. “I used to go into a trance like you when I visited my past, and for some reason the more I visited my past the more of the same I got in my present. More heartbreaks. More betrayals.”
“What are you trying to say? That I should not talk about what happened to me?” Anna said furiously.
“That’s not what I am saying,” Spencer said
“But if I could let you see your face when you started talking you would think that your husband just left you last night, not five years ago. Here, let’s try again. Start telling me what happened and be present with it, tell me the story from the now.”
Anna didn’t know what to do with this request.
Her story was the same whether she told it from the past from the present or even the future. It didn’t change. He left her and she is heartbroken. She was starting to get annoyed with this new friend she made on the bus. But something deep inside of her told her to give this a go.
“Well, I do remember it like it was yesterday but I know it wasn’t. I know he left me a long time ago and since then I did my best to survive. Sometimes I was very lonely and other times I surprised myself. I know he is not happy with his decision and that kind of made me happy. He regretted leaving and he came back begging me to take him back. I didn’t.” Anna said and a spontaneous smile showed up on her face for the first time in a while. Spencer noticed it and he knew that he was witnessing her shifting the inner reality. Even though he had done this many times before, it always looked like a miracle. He has taken this bus ride for as long as he can remember always excited to see who would sit next to him.
“You are so strong and so wise to not let him back into your life, I rarely meet people as strong as you,” Spencer said knowing what he was doing in that moment in time.
“Really?” Anna said in complete surprise. “I never saw myself like this before. But maybe you are right. I did not take him back and I really wanted to. This was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”
And just like that Anna’s story about herself started to change.
She started to wonder what else she had not been seeing about herself.
What else was stuck inside her brain the old way and not the way it truly was.
Anna spent some time deep in her thoughts and Spencer did not interrupt what was happening. As he knew exactly what was taking place. Anna was shifting worlds and realities. She started to see that her brain was just a machine. A machine that repeated the same reality over and over again. And in that moment, just like that, she remembered her mom telling her the same thing Spencer did a few moments ago. It was as if Spencer’s reflection of her released a reality that her brain was hiding. That she was stronger than her sister, sometimes her mom needed to spend some more time with her sister. Her mom loved her and admired her more than anyone else in the world and that reality was hidden from her for years. It was as if Spencer’s request to tell her story from the present moment revealed a truth that was buried.
“Thank you for bringing me to the present Spencer,” Anna said and the smile came back.
“I didn’t do much,” Spencer said
“You were ready to see what has been hidden from you for so long. Getting on this bus on your way to a new life told me that behind the automation of your brain there lies strength and courage that you could not yet see. My job was to show you.
“Where did you come from Spencer?” Anna said and for the first time in a while she felt chills.
“You brought me here Anna,” Spencer said and he suddenly got up from his seat. “This is my stop.” Anna slowly moved out of the way to let him pass.
“What will happen to me now Spencer?” Anna said with a concern on her face.
“Whatever you choose Anna.”
Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, The Life Starters and Star Letters. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and MariaShriver.com. She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and is currently working on her second book on expanding the mind in ways that allows co creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life.