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Yesterday I heard of the passing of a girl with whom I went to high school. Reading through the posts and comments on Facebook, it seems many of us had the same conclusion, that whether or not we had been close to her, in school or in the years since graduation, she was a shining soul who would be missed.
I went to an all-girls Catholic High School in the Oakland Hills. Our class topped out at 70 girls, and in what I would learn was unique even among the other small Catholic schools in the area, we were a family of sorts. While we may not have all socialized or had the same interests and goals, when it really mattered we rallied together, be it a staff member with an illness or a fellow student going through tough times. Even in the years since graduation I have been touched by a quick message from someone I only spoke to a handful of times in school.
This experience is probably what held me together through my teenage years. As I felt my world change in extremely violent and frightening ways and watched life pull away from me en masse I cannot think of one woman I graduated with who didn’t reach out to me at least once even if we had less than a handful in common between us. It was this genuine care and strength as a unit that had led me through my adult life as I strive to help others in any way I can whether they’re strangers or close friends.
I have yet to make it to a reunion, and I don’t visit with old classmates often, even ones who live only a few miles from me now, but the fact that we have all come together over the past couple days to send our love and light to Erin’s family is just one example of the spirit of Holy Names, a spirit we were all imbued with and encouraged to carry with us always.
Nobless Oblige, ladies.
Peaceful crossing, Erin.
My former coven used to do a Yule ritual that involved keening. It was extremely powerful and emotionally intimate. We are at our most vulnerable and unhidden when we are keening, because once it starts it’s uncontrollable. As soon as one deeply buried emotion makes its way to the surface to be released there is no way of knowing what will follow it. Unresolved, unhelpful, and unhealthy thoughts and feelings tend to travel in flocks, and there is no way to sugar coat or disguise them in front of others when they’re pouring from us in waves. We are raw. We are authentic. We are healing in one of the most violent and explicit ways possible.
So yes, this is much more of a Yule lesson for cleansing and renewal than it is a Samhain lesson, but after years of repeating this ritual at Yule I felt it begin to build as the veils thinned and the dark half of the Wheel of the Year began its final turn. It seems that around this time of year many lives change in very eruptive ways, and by the time the light returns at Yule we either release the residue from this change or find it very hard to feel the sun.
I’ve chosen to write this now because I’ve noticed an unusual density around me. Several people in my life are experiencing this painful change all at once, including myself. Some of us are coming through it embracing new opportunities, and some of us have simply stopped trying to move forward. I fall somewhere in the middle, but deep inside I know I can’t just stop where I am and give up.
Here is a very short meditation for your consideration as it came to me in this time of change:
You’re on a path that you believe is The path. It’s been the only path you’ve followed and believed could lead you to fulfillment. Maybe for months, maybe for years, or maybe for your entire life you have struggled with the obstacles and setbacks that come with any journey. Then one day the path ends with no divergent path and no way to go back. Everything you’ve invested, all the time and energy you’ve spent, and all the sacrifices you’ve made on this path are gone. The only way to go is forward, and in front of you is a cliff into a dark abyss. Your only choices are to sit and stop moving forward or jump and have faith that you will survive the fall. You may fall to a new path, or you may have to seek one out once you’ve landed and put yourself back together.
Your decision in this case is not for me to judge or push one way or another. In some cases you may be perfectly content to climb a tree and make a life here at the end of this path. You may not feel like the risk of facing another cliff is worth seeking a new path. You may also get to the tree, sit there for a while, and decide you have to move forward to feel like the path you were on wasn’t for nothing. I wish I could say the risk was always worth the fall, but that’s for you to decide.
For me the fall isn’t what scares me, it’s the possibility of not finding a new path at all. My choice to move on was made because I have a lot of journey left before me. There is no way of knowing what will come next, but I want to see what could come next. The only way for me to do that is to shed the excess weight and grime left behind by the obstacles of a path that just…ended. I don’t want to sit in a tree with only my emotional baggage for company. I don’t want to spent my entire life resenting the cliff. I want to be rid of the hurt and blame that I have collected on this dead-end path. I want to feel my mortality and know what it feels like to come out of it alive. I want to be able to know that the abyss did not claim me.
So, the keening. It took me a long time to be able to let go enough to actually let it all go. In order for it to be keening, rather than your run of the mill wailing and carrying on in front of a bonfire in the cold in the middle of the night, you must be willing and able to let it all go. It was a fall that taught me how, a fall that taught me to stop holding on to old pain for fear of what future pain might entail. My lesson? Don’t fear the fall because of what you might lose on the way down. Embrace it. Sometimes you need the fall to be able to walk away from a path that is obviously no longer leading you anywhere. Sometimes you need the fall to find the path in the abyss. Sometimes you need the fall to keen and release all the things that are holding you back. Go ahead. Fall, scream, cry, face your demons, and let it all go. Then find the path that gives you a new purpose, or even just a new way to get to your original purpose.
Go now, fall or stand still.
All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family. At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there. I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle. I think the main question was which one I would pick and when. That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it. If anything they outed me to themselves.
I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it. I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry. No one asked. My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning. No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”. With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests. In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of. I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.
I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age. I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it. My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was. I never felt the need to have a “coming out”. I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable. Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else. That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival. He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad. He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.
Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”. Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day. My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist. In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received. Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.
A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media. I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona. I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live. This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.
This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone. I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye. I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time. I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.
There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true. I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation. I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”. I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo. I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers. If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth. This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.
I talk a lot about NRE and how to set your polyamory in motion. In fact, most books, blogs, and articles (oh my!)cluster around beginnings and how to get the ball rolling. Right now I’m going to flip the coin and talk about something we seem to avoid like a taboo: endings. Yes, I said it, endings. While we would all like to believe that once we’ve found partners who complete our circle and fulfill our needs we never have to worry about breakups. It is a fact of life that this is simply not true. For many reasons, sometimes perfectly good partnerships end. Not that I’m trying to jinx any of you, but here are some important things to remember when navigating a breakup like an adult.
If you’re like me and most of the successful poly people out there you probably have a pretty severe allergy to drama. Be that as it may, sometimes we forget that when things don’t quite turn out as we expected. It’s easy to get caught up in accusations and exaggerations, but honestly, mudslinging reflects poorly on everyone involved. You might feel justified in warning the world about your wounded perspective, but if it’s a true blight on the part of an ex partner most likely everyone else already knows about it. There’s no reason to resort to social slandering. Most circles within the poly community are rather small, and the likelihood of crossing paths with an ex or someone associated with an ex is pretty good. In some cases you may still have to attend the same events and meetings. Drama within these circles most likely ends with the one doing the loudest squawking alienating herself, as no one wants to sit next to a crying baby. This includes social media. The world has enough negativity without you blasting your latest libel where everyone has to read it. It’s attention seeking behaviour, and it’s ugly. Stop it!
That being said, not all breakups have to be ugly. Not all reason for breakups are negative. For example, maybe one partner is moving away. I for one can’t function well in a long distance relationship, so a partner relocating would most likely end our relationship. Instead of lamenting the ending support that partner in what was probably a tough decision to make. Don’t make it a more difficult situation emotionally, especially if she’s moving towards something positive. Let her be happy and excited about this new direction, and she will be more likely to be supportive as you process the change.
That brings me to my next point. All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy. Let me say that again. All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy. Partners, metamours, spouses, co-lovers, unicorns, children,everyone. As much as we try, and as much as we work through issues together, sometimes the truth persists that for one reason or another you cannot avoid detrimental unhappiness. I’m not talking about compromise; that’s a natural expectation of a relationship. I mean the kind of unhappiness that’s harmful, the kind that breeds resentment. There is no good reason for anyone to stay in a relationship that becomes something to be dreaded or burdensome. I have often told Hubby that it would hurt to lose him, but if he were miserable with me I’d hope he wouldn’t stay just because we have a legal and spiritual bond between us. If no compromise can be made, change is necessary. Knowing that he’s with me because he wants to be, not because he has to be is a wonderful feeling.
I believe wholeheartedly that everyone in my life is here for a reason. I might not know what that reason is, but I will damned well know when that reason has been satisfied. Some relationships are the same way. Not every partner I have is meant to be a long-term committed partner. Not every loving partnership is meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes a relationship serves as a wake-up call, a reminder, or an awakening. Sometimes I have a need that the relationship fulfills, a lesson to learn, or an experience I would not have had otherwise. Isn’t that what life is about? That being said, when that purpose is satisfied those relationships have a tendency to become stale, unstable, or even unhealthy. Being stubborn about holding on to these relationships generally leads to an unnecessarily explosive ending.
A few more things to consider before you unleash the drama llama…
The people you may or may not be dragging through the mud are people you once cherished, but they are also people who once represented you and your collective. These are people you’ve possibly defended and upheld. How you appear as a part of a relationship reflects on all people involved in that relationship, but the adverse is also true. Whether or not you are still involved with them, what good is it to further muddy the waters?
On the idea of children. I have had many friends who stayed in rotting relationships for the sake of children, both biological and non. In my opinion this is a disservice to both the adults and the children in this situation. Adults deserve to be in a situation that is healthy for them, and children deserve to be in a family structure that is happy and positive, and when that is not the case they often internalize it. This can cause deep and lifelong issues, especially if the adults in the situation just can’t get along. I am strongly convinced that children have a much more positive experience with happy, well-rounded, separated parental figures than with bitter, resentful, bitter ones who just shouldn’t live together.
With great love comes great responsibility. Open, public polyamory often makes examples of us whether it’s warranted or not. However we act and whatever we do becomes polyamory. It’s an unfair responsibility, but it is a responsibility nonetheless, and a caveat to the freedom we enjoy. For this very reason endings tend to become all about the polyamory, and this is a very easy trap for even those of us who live it to fall into. One bad breakup and suddenly someone “had a bad experience”. Just because in your eyes or the eyes of family and friends your relationship may have failed, it doesn’t mean that you or polyamory at large failed. It also doesn’t mean polyamory isn’t for you. It just means that relationship was no longer for you. It happens. Learn from it, grow from it, and move forward with a peaceful heart.
A peaceful heart. I’m going to say this as bluntly as possibly. Holding grudges is stupid. There you have it. Why are grudges stupid? For the same reason holding a hot barbecue briquette is stupid. Holding a grudge hurts no one but the person holding it. Hate, pride, and shortsightedness may temporarily hurt the people at whom you hurl them, but in the end you are the one stuck with the lasting scars. The only way to heal is to process it calmly and let it go. Admit that very few endings are one-sided. Admitting your part in the breakup is the first step. Take what you can from it, don’t try to carry all the blame or innocence, then toss it aside.
That last part is pretty important, too. The polar opposite of pretending we are infallible is to take all the responsibility for a breakup and let it fester. Guilt is quite a strong emotion, and it may lead you to reneging on the decision you made to move on. Some initiators feel they don’t deserve to mourn the loss of a relationship they ended. Some non-initiators feel the same way. This simply is not the case. Loss is loss. When someone chooses to give a baby up for adoption or put down a sick pet we don’t fault them for grieving. Why then shouldn’t it be the same for someone who ends a relationship that isn’t working? It shouldn’t. By the time we reach the end there is no reason to point fingers or lash out, and you cannot deny the other people involved their emotional right to feel the loss.
People? Yes, people, plural. In some cases you may break up with more than one partner, but even if you don’t there are generally other people affected by the breakup. Your partner’s other partners will feel the ripple effect of their grief, and you may have made some close bonds with them as metamours. I know if Hubby and A broke up I’d have some pretty strong feelings to work through. I’d want to support him, I’d want to help him process if I could, and I’d feel my own loss at the departure of a family member and the disruption of what has become a very comfortable routine for us. We are not isolated beings in polyamory. We are all connected like a spiderweb, and any break or movement in just a string on the web causes the whole structure to shift and change. Everyone in the web feels it.
Endings are just as much a part of life as new beginnings, and without one we cannot have the other. Instead of having a lifetime of bad breakups and negative feelings towards our exes there is a true peace at the core of anyone who can let all that go and truly be at peace with goodbyes. One of the highest levels of compersion is found in the ability to with someone well when the best thing for him is not with you. One of the purest forms of self acceptance and love is making decisions that truly enrich us on a psychological, emotional, and spiritual level. Oftentimes the decisions that are the hardest for us to make are ones we have already made in our hearts. Be honest with yourself, and listen to your intuition. You alone know what is right for you and when it has stopped being right. You owe yourself that level of communication and trust as much as you owe it to your partners.
Twelve years ago I left California and began a journey that I envisioned going much differently than it has. It was a week after the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and the whole country was in a climate of confusion and loss. SFO was a ghost town, and I questioned everything as I stepped out of the taxi and into my new life. I was alone in an unfamiliar city, and I was unsure how to navigate my new life. Still, I did what I do best and I adapted. At times I even thrived.
My college career lasted 6 months, due to some very personal setbacks. I stuck it out in Philly and have fought tooth and nail to survive despite job loss, health care lapses, financial struggles, and sickness. In that time I’ve also had the opportunity to travel, I’ve taught at the zoo, I’ve met my husband, and we’ve expanded our poly family. I still have some of the close friends I made in that first year, and I have been able to gather a tribe of amazing people around me.
My time at Drexel was short, but the decision to move 3000 miles away changed my life’s direction. Had I gone to a local college or returned to California when I left school I may have had a completely different life to this point. The decisions I’ve made since then have been tough. While some have set my path in dangerous and dark directions, all of my twists and turns have made me who I am today. I may not have the career or lifestyle I had envisioned as a hopeful teenager, but I have a wonderful, loving family. I’m still writing, still shooting, and still creating. I’m moving forward and adding destinations I never imagined could exist twelve years ago.
I never intended to be in Pennsylvania this long, and maybe someday we’ll relocate, but I am still confident that I am where I need to be. I am still confident I am who I need to be.
“Polyamory probably saved my marriage.”
I have heard this statement made several times, and it always refers to something different. Sometimes it refers to a sense that things had gotten stale and polyamory put a fresh spin on the marriage. Sometimes it’s been sexual desires or orientations. Other times it’s been a deeper need to become closer through shared experiences. For me it’s been about lessons. I mentioned in a previous post that recently Hubby and I had some troubled waters. I strongly believe that we would not have come out of them unscathed as a monogamous couple, at least not as the monogamous couple we were. While the idea is emotionally unfathomable, realistically I don’t think we would have had the right tools to keep our marriage afloat.
Communication: While this one seems like it should encompass everything else, there are a few key lessons in communication that come from experience with polyamory. Most of us know how to identify communication, but many don’t know how to actually communicate. Good communication makes the difference between an electric mixer and a wooden spoon. Where good communication makes things smoother and easier to handle, bad communication often causes nothing but soreness and a mess. My apologies to anyone who likes to mix things by hand. To communicate freely requires that one eschew fear of being honest. Oftentimes when we bring up an uncomfortable topic we try to avoid confrontation and word things to sound more innocuous. Sometimes we even try to predict what the other person’s reaction will be and how to avoid it being negative. The truth is, sometimes we need a negative reaction. Sometimes Hubby needs to know things are not copacetic. We can’t fix a problem he doesn’t know exists. That being said, communicating dictates you be calm, concise, and factual with no emotional mudslinging or attacking. Everyone listens instead of plotting their next move, and everyone gets to talk. As long as this can be done in a mature manner, you’ve done it! You’re communicating!
Dedication: It has always been my belief that one contributing factor to our nation’s divorce rate is how easy it is to give up. There have been moments when we may have thrown in the towel had we not been married and committed to those vows. If in the end we agree that we’ve done everything we could to fix our problems I will fully accept that, but until then I will keep trying to make our marriage stronger and healthier. Many people in relationships act as if a difference in opinion or beliefs is an automatic sign that the relationship is doomed. No one is perfect, and nothing that lasts a lifetime is polished in a day. The marriages that last are the one that are constantly maintained by people who don’t avoid or repress their problems. Instead they work through them one at a time to nurture their bond and grow as a couple.
One Step at a Time: Think of a math equation. Looking at all the different functions in the equation all at once can seem daunting, but if you break it down into smaller, easier to handle parts you can focus on one function at a time. Quite often when a relationship experiences an obstacle it seems insurmountable because it’s never made up of just one issue. Usually by the time a marriage is in serious jeopardy the root cause is an amalgamation of smaller issues. Trying to work on them all at once can be overwhelming and will only cause more frustration and friction. Prioritizing and processing one problem at a time and accepting that there will be setbacks can help the healing process to not become such a burden that a couple gives up. Poly teaches us to deal with one thing at a time as it pertains to each situation. Just as no two partners are alike, no two problems are alike. Still, no member of our family is alone when problems do arise. Working on them together makes anything possible if we take it one step at a time.
Letting it Go: Once a problem is discussed and resolved it needs to be let go, not just until the next fight, not just until you’re feeling a little neglected and need some attention, but let go for good. There is nothing as detrimental to a relationship that’s trying to heal like bringing up old baggage that doesn’t serve the issue at hand. Poly teaches us to deal with any possible situation then let it go, because there is no room in healthy non-monogamy for extra baggage.
Perspective: Sometimes the way we see things is not how others see them, and either way may be a skewed version of the truth. Polyamory has taught me not to use phrases like “you did X” but instead say things like “it seemed to me like you did XYZ”. Blame solves nothing, and it makes you look foolish and out of control. Instead, calmly recounting the situation from your perspective can help the other person understand why there was an emotional response, and understanding is the beginning of both of you processing.
Avoiding Scapegoats or Insults: Blaming solves nothing, but playing dirty makes things worse. These issues are between you and your partner, not other partners, kids, or other mitigating factors. Accept that they didn’t cause the problems you’re having, the two of you did, even if your partner’s behaviour was based on these other things. I had this realization not too long ago when A told me it seemed like I was mad at her. Even to her it seemed like I was blaming her when really my real anger was towards how Hubby was treating the situation or acting because of something in their relationship. While it all may have exacerbated our issues, it wasn’t their relationship that was responsible for it, it was his behaviour and my reaction to that behaviour that was.
Emotional Independence: Polyamory has taught not only to be responsible for my emotions but also to handle them as much as I can on my own. There was a time when both of us where extremely needy and co-dependent on each other. Opening our marriage and branching out forced us to be aware of that co-dependency and to become more self-reliant. I now feel that I don’t need to run to Hubby every time I feel emotional. This puts less stress on him and allows him to be more self-reliant as well. It also means he’s available when I really need the support instead of being burnt out or overburdened already. Because of this emotional independence I have been able to trust both of our emotions and have faith that he’s with me because he loves me, not because he needs something from me emotionally. It has also given me the confidence to voice my emotional needs and know when I just can’t process certain things on my own. When working through problems in a marriage this is all integral. I feel less desperate for that emotional support, therefore I can be more articulate about real needs. I feel less burnt out and more willing to be supportive when he has real needs. Without emotional independence neither of us can be honest with ourselves or each other about emotional issues. Without it neither of us can grow as an individual.
What Worked Before: Marriages sometimes fall into a comfort, and resentment can build when the NRE starts to fade. When issues arise this is the first thing that gets flung between partners. “We never do XYZ anymore!” My first question is always, “why not?”. I have found that polyamory has kept us fresh and inspired. We have found new ways to keep our lives exciting, and we hold on to the memories and traditions that still serve us. The truth is that what worked before may not work now. This can include little things like mutual hobbies and weekly rituals to big things like relationship style and family dynamic. You may not do those things anymore because those people are no longer who you are as individuals. That couple may not be the couple you are now. That marriage has grown and evolved just as the two of you have done. Nostalgia can be a great reminder of where we come from, but it can also be a great road block to moving forward. We hold on to thing that once felt good forgetting that as we change we can and should find new things that make us feel good, too. Whether it’s changing how you date others or changing how you eat dinner together, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate. Polyamory has taught me to constantly re-evaluate our needs, my needs, and the needs of our family as a whole. If there is not growth and movement a stagnant marriage cannot thrive.
I’ll say it one more time… “Polyamory saved my marriage,” and possibly my life, or at least the quality of my life. I’ve used these tools with friends, coworkers, children, and clients. I feel enriched and empowered, and confident that I can tackle anything. Having my husband and our family on board helps, too, of course.
At 10 years old I was already painfully aware that I was different. I had braces, wore glasses, and was already an outcast. At 13 I had lost my mother and was frantically trying to form an identity that wasn’t awkward. I was completely lost. With very few female role models in my life, my teenage years were a mix of trial and error and what knowledge I could glean from friends who hadn’t figured it out any more than I had. At 18 I had just had my first kiss and was beginning to become the person I am today. I just didn’t know it yet, and I fought against it for many years. At 20 I had my first serious relationship, but I still struggled with the person I was and how I behaved with those I loved. I had left school and had had some pretty deep scars to begin to heal. By 25 I had made some drastic changes in my life. I had begun to embrace all the aspects of myself, but I had only just begun. I fluctuated wildly between self loathing and self empowerment, and I constantly questioned whether or not the one person who said he loved me, desired me, and accepted me for all of who I was could be trusted. I was just beginning my battle with Fibromyalgia, and I constantly struggled with depression. I had a very long road ahead of me. My childhood and the bullying I had received from all sides about my weight, my personality, my mental and physical health issues, and my past mistakes had done a lot of damage. I was still very broken.
But here I am having completely neglected any good that has happened in my life. I have had a family who loves me even if he don’t always understand me or my decisions. Though she passed just as I was coming into my own and forming a more mature mother-daughter relationship, I had a fantastic role model and inspiration in my mother. I may have only had a handful of friends, but they were some of the best friends I could have ever asked for and the reason I pulled though so many rough patches. At 19 I was a member of an art gallery and on my way to running poetry readings and open mics. Albeit on a very small scale, I was living my dreams. I have had amazing jobs at portrait studios, the zoo, and now at an airline working fantastic people every day. I have thrived despite my medical issues and come out stronger. I have built an amazing tribe of friends and chosen family, and my life is moving forward every day. In this past year I have worked towards getting a license an completed my first mud run.
Last week I turned 30. I still have moments of self doubt, but I have started to see my life and who I am for what it is, beautiful and unique. I am starting to accept my body for how it is not how I think it should be. I have begun to believe people when they call me beautiful or sexy. My faith grows only stronger as I mature. I have begun to fully experience my sexuality and sexual identity. I am loving the way I choose to love and make no apologies for being different. I have fully embraced the parts of me that are quirky, geeky, an spontaneous. I have simply stopped letting people tell me I can’t, stopped letting them tell me I won’t, and stopped letting them tell me to grow up. There are goals I wish I’d have met by this point in my life and plans I’ve had to change as life has flowed in different directions, but I have had amazing adventures and grabbed a opportunities I never would have dreamed imaginable. I am embracing 30 with renewed spirit and a better understanding of who I am and what I want from life. The things I hid, shunned, and tried to eschew at 20 are the things that make me dazzle at 30. I feel like this past year has given me a new life, and I fully intend to live every last minute of it…at 30.
As I approach 30 I find myself doing a lot of soul-searching and self-analysis. This has led me to face a lot of the shadows in my past. Some of them I created, some of them I used to hide bad memories or mistakes, and some are just a part of life. However, all of them, when left unchecked, have the potential to grow and overtake the light in my spirit. Indeed, at one time or another each of them has, resulting in imbalances that often took a very serious toll on my life and those around me. As I begin to embrace 30 I also begin to address these shadows, clean what I can from the darkness, and accept them as a part of me rather than avoid them as blights. Each one has made me who I am today, and each one continues to me an opportunity to grow as a person.
This Mother’s Day we took Hubby’s mom to the zoo. The day before that I spent with friends and their young daughter. I had my moments of grief and loss, of nostalgia and loneliness, and even of regret that I hadn’t holed myself up all weekend, but by the end of last night I was happy for the experience and the new clarity it gave me as I move forward. With that clarity came messages to three generations of who I am.
To My Mother:
I’m sorry. For all the things a child cannot articulate. For all the opportunities to tell you I loved you, to hug you, to spend a day with you that went empty. For the places in my life where you tried to teach me better only to have me forget or ignore the lessons. For letting myself hold on for so long to losing you instead of the memories of who you were. For not having the chance to have an adult Mother-Daughter relationship with the most important person who has ever loved me; the one who loved me enough to give me a chance at life. I will never take that gift for granted again. Thank you. For continuing to teach me those lessons. I see you more and more inside me every year, and there are days when I can’t fathom how you managed all that you did with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You sacrificed more for me than I will ever truly understand. You loved even when it hurt, you fought for what you believed in, and you followed the path that felt right for you no matter who tried to tell you otherwise. There have been so many times in my life when I’ve missed you and longed for your advice. Thank you for that model. Forgive me if I’m struggling to do as well as you did.
To My Unborn Child:
I may have never held you in my arms, but you are always in my heart. I’m sorry. For not being able to protect you. For not being able to give you a life. For being scared and unprepared. Thank you. For giving me a reason to keep going through one of the darkest points of my life. For still giving me hope that someday I will be a good Mommy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and wonder what my life would be like now with you in it.
I’m sorry. For letting you carry this weight on your own for so long. For abusing and neglecting you. For the resentment and the guilt. For never telling you that you were not to blame, that you did everything you could with what you had, and that you were loved. For leaving you alone in the darkness and depression, hoping you’d eventually just fade away. Thank you. For not giving up. For having the faith I could not. For being strong, beautiful, and even happy at times despite me. For believing in us and knowing someday I would come around. With you on my side I know I can accomplish anything.
There it is, friends. One of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write. Two phrases that far too often go unsaid to our parents, our children, and ourselves.
Go now, be at peace.