It seems like this year has moved so quickly by. When I sit back and look at it, I start to realize how many changes that happened. It all goes by so fast, so swiftly that you forget to really digest the changes as they are happening. And then you sit down, you take a breath, and you reflect for a moment from where you were a year ago to where you are now. I switched jobs. I've watched my teenage daughter figure out her path. I see my husband make these great strides to better his life and ours together. And then I look at myself, this new and wonderful and scary stage I've found myself. I sit at this table, writing these words, and understand that this year has been a discovery of myself, this struggle to figure out who I am on my own two feet. I look at that beautiful child I created and I understand that most of my life has been about her, about doing my best to keep her alive, about making up for all those things I failed her at. I feel almost stunted because from the moment I was a true adult, I was someone's mother. I kept my head down and did what I had to do to keep our heads above water. I sacrificed parts of myself willingly to give her what I have always had a hard time giving myself. I sit at this table with my coffee like I so often do when I write these words and feel both relieved and burdened by these new moments, these new discoveries, this new direction of my ever struggling journey to find this peace within myself that eludes me. You know when I really think about it, when I really brutally and honestly take a look at myself, there's still so much I don't know about myself even though I've sat in this skin for almost forty years now.
It's felt like a lot of struggle lately. I feel like no matter what I do or how hard I try or how much of me I give up, I still can't quite feel like I am moving forward. I got out of an industry that demanded so much of my physically because I no longer felt the reward of that hard work. I entered a field where I know it is right but I'm starting at the very bottom. I know it was the right decision. Every part of me knows it was the right decision but sometimes I just look at my life and wonder why I have to work so hard for the basics of happiness over and over again. I am a grown adult and I still live paycheck to paycheck. I have to think carefully before I buy myself that cup of coffee that I don't need... but I do. I do because I happily will buy nothing else for myself in order for my family to be happy. It's a battle though, this how much I do for everyone and what I do for myself. I've never really been a selfish person but if I'm being honest? Sometimes I want to scream what about me!? And then even the thought of that makes me feel incredibly guilty. Maybe it's because I became someone's mother so early in life. Maybe it's because I've always been so sensitive to other people's feelings. I had this thought the other day. I don't really care what people think about me but I do care very much about how I make other people feel. I don't know how to make sense out of that. Even if you looked at me and hated every part of me, I would still feel bad if I did you wrong. It's such a conflicting place to be. Sometimes it's pretty annoying.
Someone looked at me last night and asked me for the first time in awhile how I was doing. With all these changes and all these emotions that I don't quite know how make sense of, I don't know if I have asked myself that question. I'm a stubborn, stubborn girl. I don't really like people knowing how much of a struggle bus I am at times. This is really annoying, too. It's not because I am ashamed of being a human being but I don't want to bother other people with these anxieties that I carry so heavy. Why put that on anyone else but me? So how am I? The thing about me is I will always be OK. I can be down in a ditch, feeling like the world is suffocating me over and over again, like I am alone in this world with these dark moments that I can't explain to anyone... but I will always be OK. When she asked me that question last night though, I started to tear up. I did not mean to. I did not want to. I just couldn't help it. Sometimes I forget that I need someone to check in, to say hey friend. In this new stage of my mid life, I think I am learning how to relate to people in a different way. My early life was so shut off from the world. I did not know how to really relate to the people around me. Not because I didn't want to but because people were terrifying. Sure, I loved being that person that took care of everyone. Being someone's mother puts that in your DNA. Every face you see is the face of your child and all you want is for that face to be happy, to feel loved, to know they are not alone. Again I've had this strange struggle between keeping everyone at bay and allowing them in. The older I get, the more my journey changes, the more I understand my own faults have both held me back and somehow pushed me forward. The more I know I will always be OK even if I feel a little lost right now.
My husband and I were talking about where we are right now. I understand there are two different journeys happening in my life. There is the journey of us, in this life together, figuring out how to make ends meet, hoping that this coming year it will be about more than that. And then there is this journey of me, who am I beyond her mother, who I am as an artist and a writer and a poet, as a person. I want so much to wake up and feel at peace with this skin. I want so much to look in the mirror and see what I know I am instead of this doubt that mocks me. I want to get up and love every minute of my day. More than that I want to know that all of this struggle will be worth it, all of it. Rationally I understand it. I get it. I know when she smiles at me that those years of just the two of us were worth that smile she gave me today. I know when he holds my hand that all those years of loneliness were worth his gentle touch. And sometimes I see a reflection in that mirror that says, "Hey, you did it." I understand it is my plight in life to work for the things that I want. I've never expected a free ride. I've never wanted anything just given to me. I may clench my fists. I may want to scream and fall to my knees and demand to know why every day has to be so hard but I understand, I accept this is my journey. Every hill I've climbed, every mountain I have fallen off of, every cliff I didn't jump are just part of my journey. This new stage, this new time of discovery is a time of reflection, of giving myself permission to be a little selfish, to say, "Hey, you did all that. You can find yourself, too."