Life is just a giant bowl of weird things that somehow find a way to work together. We soak up certain parts of our lives in different ways at different times of our lives. While in my teenage years, I thrived on conflict. As I got older, I picked those parts out and pushed them to the side. I often sit at my desk during the week, asking myself how in the world did I land here? But I know that most of my life has been about my kid, about making sure she had what she needed. Then, it became about my husband and being a good partner to him. And somehow all these other things started to find their way into their mix and I drowned myself out. It has been easier focusing on what I am missing more than what I have. That’s true for all of us. I’ve been so focused on all these things I lost over the last few years that I really haven’t sat down and seen what I have gained. I didn’t see that dash of self-discovery that I added. I was blind to that cup of love I finally allowed myself to feel. I get pushed into corners, so easily blinded by how suffocating this world feels to me that I keep out the light. I sit at that desk, surrounded in a hurricane of just unhappy and I hear this small voice whisper to me. Get up. It’s time to get out of the oven.
I texted my mother this morning. I wrote, “It’s nice to feel like myself again.” I wrote that sentence but it didn’t really sink in until after I hit send. When I look back a year ago, five years ago, hell ten years ago and realize I’ve been lost in the mix. And it’s cool. I mean I understand that is life. I accept all the things that hurt me, that I hurt, that held me back. They are all part of me at the end of the day. I remember the day I put me on that shelf. I remember closing the cupboard, telling her that she was safer there. There have been so many moments in my life that I haven’t felt enough, that no matter what I did it just didn’t make the cut. I remember anyone telling me that I was any good, I just laughed at them, distrusting their intentions. You may like me at first but you won’t after awhile. We all fade and, sure, I’ve become pretty skeptical of people… but the girl I put away? She still believes in all of you and it’s hard for me to deal with her disappointment. I’ve fooled myself into thinking I was protecting this hypothetical another person when in reality it’s just me. I learned to take my time with people, to trust my instincts, to only give them a little before giving them a full piece of me. And I’ve been burned and I will continue to get burned but for the first time in a long time, I’m not that concerned about anyone else. And for the first time in a long time, it feels like I slipped back into me. It’s been long overdue.
I’m still a work in progress. Every day I discover something new, annoying and wonderful about myself. I understand my anger and my frustration and my anxiety. I’m like a layer cake just figuring out my layers one at a time. I understand that I can deal with assholes better then I can deal with nice old ladies. I have learned that my lack of patience and my bursts of anger and my long sighs are just versions of my anxiety taking physical form but I’m not ashamed of them. I am in a position that causes me a lot of mental stress. It’s probably been the most damaging place I have ever been. It’s like someone put salt in my sweet tea and I’m having a hard time swallowing it. I thought this week about being an adult and how that has changed over the years. It used to be you worked a job you hated until you died because there really wasn’t any other choice. Eventually, you’ll have a heart attack and leave this world. I think about my parents, watching them as a kid, how they would both come home miserable. I think about my kid off in a beautiful state doing what she loves, living her life, discovering who she is. And then I listen to the old lady on the phone who wants to talk to me about her grand kids or that angry man on the phone who doesn’t believe I’m even a person and I know that there is something better for me out there in this world. This time around I’m not ashamed to say I deserve it, all of it , the entire cake.
The great thing about baking is that even if the outside ends up being not all that pretty, as long as it tastes good, you are golden. I’m rough. I have a lot of work to do. I’ve got some adjustments to make but I understand my ingredients. My kid needed some guidance this week. She’s young and learning, figuring out how the world sees her and how she sees herself. I remember feeling like how other people viewed me was super important. It wasn’t that long ago that I put my worth in other people’s clumsy hands but you learn from that. I told her that at the end of the day it was about how she viewed herself. It was about how she felt she was living her best life. If she felt like she wasn’t whatever enough, then she needed to do the work to see that she was. This silly little struggle of being enough is such a pointless battle but it has taken me 40 years to understand that. You will never be enough for everyone and it’s such an energy draining thing to keep trying. You figure out how to be enough for you, for the people who value you, and that’s it. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. I’m at a point that I will no longer apologize for my struggle with anxiety. I’m done trying to hide when I get upset or sad or even happy. It wastes so much energy to be anything other than true to yourself. And over the last struggle bus of a year, I’ve slowly taken that girl out of the cupboard and put her back on. We’re still working some things out and I still have my days where I want to smash my head against concrete but I am so grateful for the courage that I soaked up in the giant bowl of my random life. I’ve just been marinating is all.