I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport, 1/4 of the way through a three hour layover, and I’ve been listening to a couple next to me fight about the holidays and who’s family was less worthy of their time since they didn’t have a lot to share. I got to thinking if I ever had “those” conversations and caught in a perpetual power struggle where compromise is as rare as agreement. I cringed when I had total recall of similar times buried deep in my memory bank. My Lord how things have changed.
As we get closer to flipping the switch on another decade a new generation is labeled (thank you Olivia for the ah-ha moment) and social media is flooded with comparison pictures and professions of the best year ever is on the horizon, I have to stop and reflect on my last 120 months.
From a balcony view I see two kids that graduated high school, an empty nest, a relationship never meant for me and the divorce that accompanied it further in the rearview mirror, the moment time stopped and my world was forever changed, new jobs, different zip codes, the loss of love, renewal of my hope for a greater future, a grandchild, and a version of myself I can relate with but at times don’t recognize. Has all of that really happened in the shortest, yet longest ten year timespan? I’ve heard time compared to a river. You can’t touch the same water twice in a river because the flow that has passed will never pass again. For the most part I’ll throw up an halleluia to that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some intensely happy times but, I mean really, I think we all have chapters we don’t want to read again.
My twenties were far from roaring unless we’re referring to the sound a dumpster fire makes while it blazes and the flames look like they’re reaching the heavens. I had the perfect accelerants- a crash course in adulting, competing priorities between family and career progression, dragging along unacknowledged pain and hurt, not having one clue who the fuck I actually was or where I wanted to go because my minds eye saw something that was completely unrealistic. I had made one mistake after another and somehow managed to polish those turds into gems or so I thought.
I wish I could say that my thirties were a better representation of who I am today but no. What about all those gems you ask? I had to accept that I had my hands full of shit and no matter how often they caught the light just right and glimmered it was still shit. The worse part is that I had my hands so full that I didn’t have room or the ability to create a life I wanted and deserved. So not only did I spend half of my thirties with my hands full of pooh, I spent the same amount of time trying to turn a period into a comma by trying to convince someone that I was good enough. I should taken their actions as they were intended and started a new sentence. If you’re not convinced that rejection is one of the most devastating emotions a person can experience I think I can give you a few examples that might sway you.
The last half of the thirties and into my forties is where my life changed, twice. I found what love is supposed to feel like. All the stress fractures in my heart were filled with unconditional acceptance and tolerance. My goofiness, quirks, crooked glasses, the occasional snort when I laugh, and even those 10 extra pounds became someone else’s joy. I don’t think I had ever felt so whole in my adult life. We were far from perfect but the fights didn’t happen and the desire to see eye to eye diminished as I realized what’s more important is standing side by side looking in the same direction. I would have never imagined, in a million years, that all those moments spent with him would prepare me for being without him.
I can still close my eyes and feel him cup my face in his hands in the seconds before he took his last few steps and breath. In the minutes, hours, and days that followed when the world started spinning again are a blur and I think they’re meant to. I remember intensity of feelings like having to sign his cremation order, and writing his obituary but the living breathing actions in those moments are gone. I think there’s some type of safety in all of that blurriness. I am convinced that the way he loved me and allowed me to be completely myself that I was as ready as I could have been to redefine my life without him.
None of it has been comfortable but the person that has emerged over the last four years gives some kind of validation to the tears and continual effort to remain authentic. There is a sea of guilt to swim in and while you’re treading water other people expectations pile up on your shoulders. It’s either them or me and I chose me. Selfish, self preservation, survival….whichever label you place on it, it’s all about what gets you to the next day. Staying true to yourself is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done but I’ve never been more proud of myself either. I’m the only one that knows what’s best for me and I have to trust the timing of where I am in this moment. I swear to you if I listen to my intuition everything goes swimmingly but the minute I second guess it I’m 25 steps back and frustrated.
My dad once told me that I was like a cat and no matter how tall the building was, if you threw me off of it I’d land on my feet. What he failed to mention is how painful the twisting and turning was and how in those moments you feel like your world will never be right side up again. But, here I am, surviving and shit, and ready for the next roaring 20 in my life. I’ll still make choices that mimic mistakes and I’ll continue to do what brings me closer to a feeling of home. I don’t think 2020 will be some magical 365 day period filled with leaps and bounds of personal growth and personal fulfillment but it will be exactly what it needs to be to see me through to the next phase of this great adventure I call life.