“I am not the same as I once was, nor today will I carry unto tomorrow, but become someone else by morning…”
I woke up this morning with that in my head. I write even in my sleep, thanks Shakespeare – he must be my Muse.
Flip the calendar twice from today and I welcome another cycle around the sun to the tune of thirty-nine years. Significant, this age, and has me quite contemplative as the date draws near. I’ve begun to imagine, if this were the last year of my life, it would be so far from complete; from the greatest sadness I have felt to the greatest lesson sorrow can teach us I write today.
There’s a very strong contrast between the first part of my venturing off, to where I am presently, both in overall way of being (I am more peaceful now, I was chaotic then), and how I view my life and the circumstances and experiences I’ve walked through.
I know how to do better with the time remaining and go forward bravely, accepting what has changed and allowing an adaptive perspective to create something meaningful. I learned that from losing my Mother at the age of thirty-nine, and it’s why I feel now, approaching that age myself – there is no way in bloody hell I’m done, but what can I learn from then that will serve me now? For years, I did not know how to identify myself as anything other than sad.
For years, I wallowed, for years, paralyzed by inaction and self-pity and bitterness, longing for and romanticisizing what was good to endure what wasn’t…
For years, I was a prisoner of my own desire, for what? To change it. To have a different ending to that story and all its chapters. I was captive by love and the loss of it, so strongly tied to one whose anchor tethered me in stormy seas yet was also the hurricane rocking the vessel; for years, I was wayward but I thought this was just how it goes when you lose all I lost. I thought, this must be acceptance, but it felt like shit, and I could not see I was not free in the chains I locked myself in. With this way of being, what made me any better than her, and how could I avoid that fate if I lived as though the world was happening TO me? No responsibility, just a victim, but honestly I did not see it that way at all, my pain was blinding.
I learned, after all these years, it is better not to hold onto that. Bitterness, excuses, anger even – in place of acceptance, taking action and responsibility, and having discipline enough to control my own reactions.
All of this arrives from the same genesis, that is, the greatest sorrow, and the greatest continually guiding lesson that followed. It has been almost 20 years, and I feel as though I’ve lived several lives since then.
I’ve had names that are no longer claimed, children came and I became Mother without my own, lovers called and then went running, commitments promised and held to high measure, only to find out yet again that sometimes life surprises you in the cruelest of ways. I have greeted the dawn without a single bit of sleep, I have crawled in caves of blankets and not emerged for days, I have taken big steps and succeeded getting words published and won awards and scholarships, I have failed and wept and felt the weight of my own bad decisions, I have laughed and danced and sang and talked until we fell asleep. . .
I couldn’t do all this, change. Grow. Learn. Adapt. Accept. Push through. Endure. … I couldn’t. If still holding on to the hope that things might have been different. If I still looked back and thought, “If only I could change that”…
She isn’t coming back. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I cannot undo the hurt she caused, I cannot return to love how I felt it the first time, I cannot have the life I believed was for us – and I cannot keep holding this as though I need it to be who I am.
So who does that make me, without it? The one standing tall when the day approaches, knowing I am strong and ready to move past whatever holds me back. The one saying to hell with giving in, to pity, to shame, to excuses, to laziness, to inaction, to blame, to fear. Now is the time. Now, is when I look in the mirror and be fucking proud of all I’ve been through. Proud of every scar, every wrinkle, every strong muscle, every loving word and touch and act of kindness.
It is not an accident that I am here, and it is by design that I will overcome where she could not, because I already have, and it speaks to something beautiful. Resilience is born of hardship, and if that is true, I can only thank the difficult days. I can only look back with gratitude, not sorrow, that it all went how it did, because if I did not have the contrast, I wouldn’t be able to open my eyes and see how far I’ve come.
I will not give in to sorrow, but hold my head up high.
As I write the pages of my life down, it is all coming together. The purpose. All these words, all these years, all the tears and pain and moments of beauty and goodness – all of it – its so that I have something meaningful to offer this world. Something real. Something hard to read at times, vivid colors and rich details, engaging ideas and a deep undercurrent of hope even in the greatest odds. Most of all, its about forgiveness, how the heart finds endurance in accepting and integrating our experiences rather than rejecting and blaming them for times when things don’t seem to be working out.
Thirty nine years, and I’ll stand up and be thankful this won’t be the last year of my life, but in fact, all I’ve been til now makes this next chapter the most exciting so far. A woman with many words, many stories, and a very strong will, and I cannot wait to share this with the world.