From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a rock star, and I wanted to be passionately loved. But as I got older, I saw my dreams dying on the vine, my heart shriveling from a lack of love, and my time getting shorter. I had settled, and it was killing me slowly in a way I didn’t want to go.
So 21 months ago, I started a journey, seeking to reclaim my heart, and hoping to find a truly intimate trusting love. I also wanted to do something else with my life, although I didn’t know what that was when I started out. The way forward was anything but clear. I didn’t know what I was in for, I didn’t know if I’d find what I sought. But I couldn’t breathe the stale air another day, I couldn’t stand feeling hated for secrets I wasn’t responsible for creating, and I couldn’t be what I was “supposed to be” anymore. Perhaps it was naive, but I still had my romance and rock star dreams.
I’ve changed in many ways since that day. I quickly move forward from situations and have chosen to leave people and relationships that aren’t a good fit for me. It isn’t that they’re wrong; it’s not that they’re bad. It’s that they’re not right for me.
I used to apologize for who I was, be embarrassed that I was different, chastise myself and try to tolerate things that made me crazy inside. Now, I’ve grown quite a bit more patient and understanding with myself. I’ve decided to find the humor and humanity in who I am, who we all are. I’ve chosen to be comfortable in my own skin, and now when I’m involved with someone who chooses to criticize or judge, (including myself), I realize this is about their own fragile ego, struggling to hide a scared heart, and I don’t take it on.
I’ve learned to sit still and cry. I’ve learned how to be alone, and what to do when I don’t want to be. I’ve allowed myself to laugh openly and loudly and fully, even when I’m alone, and even if no one else thinks it’s funny.
I’ve found the poet, the pianist, the photographer…the creator…in me. They were jammed down inside under a well of pain, messily covered over with requirements to be “normal” that I could never come close to fulfilling.
I’ve had some mantras in my head as I’ve begun each day. And I’ve made some promises to myself. Sometimes the promises are nearly impossible to keep, and sometimes the mantras are impossible to hear over the noisy pain in my life.
Mostly I made two commitments. I made a commitment to continue to heal and honor myself and who I am, to seek relationships and friendships that made me smile, filled me with joy, challenged my intellect, and warmed my heart. I also promised myself that even when it broke my heart, I’d leave behind any relationships that didn’t. I’m not so good at that, but I am working on that, too.
And I made a commitment to myself to be and remain open to taking new chances, to be willing to suffer more heart break. I’m willing to open my mouth and share my story, even when I’m not the hero, and even when it makes me ache from facing it all. I’ve written about this experience, sharing how I’m feeling, what I’m changing, and what I see…like I’m doing now. I wear my heart on my sleeve because I believe it helps others, and because I believe having it out has enriched my life more than hiding it ever could.
Some have understood what I’m going through; others, not so much. I’ve even had a friend I thought would be life-long call me up to tell me she can’t be my friend anymore because I didn’t meet her expectations. But I’ve had other people come forward in ways I would have never imagined friends could, holding me up and helping me fly when I had no net beneath me.
In turn, I’ve tried to help others along the way by telling them what I’ve gone through before them, and by being as open as I can about the difficulties I’m facing and have faced.
Just as other projects go, this one hasn’t followed the path I expected, and it’s nowhere near complete in the amount of time I’d hope for. I was and still am surprised at how long it’s taken me to get past my past.
I’ve been challenged by how hard it is sometimes to move forward as well. I’ve had to survive in an unbelievably stressful environment, as I struggled with the financial mess I found I’d been left in, trying to save a business by myself. Other things have set me back, like breaking my ankle, gaining back weight I’d thought I’d lost forever, losing my energy from a thyroid issue, and dealing with a sick doggie. I lost my Dad back in May, which still breaks my heart. And more than once, I’ve been concerned that I didn’t have the strength or the necessary compass to find my way through this.
Often I can’t see what’s next, and most of the time when I believe I can, I find out it’s because I wasn’t seeing clearly. I’m learning to sit with uncertainty. I’m learning to function in chaos. When I find challenges I can’t overcome straight on, I’ve been working to find my way around them. Sometimes the way around them seems odd, but if it works, that’s what matters to me. Some friends have expressed fear that I’m in over my head, but soon they see I know how to swim. And if I begin to drown, I trust someone will save me.
And even when it’s been so dark all I can do is trust the horizon exists, I’ve held onto a belief that if I choose to get through this, I will. If I choose to begin again, I can create the path I want to travel. If I choose to honor myself, and give my love and friendship as honestly as I can, I will have such rich experiences on my life path that it will be worth each and every tear I’ve shed.
I am extremely aware that I am only a small part of the way through this life transition. I have been learning who I am. I have been thinking through my options and gathering my resources. I have been building up my strength, and I am choosing to trust that the challenges I’ve faced already have prepared me for what might be ahead. With all that in my head and heart, I believe I’m ready to take the next big steps in my life. To be honest, they are steps I find even scarier than the ones I’ve already taken. I have no idea where they will lead, and I get that I may have to swallow bitter pills of regret from making irreversible mistakes. But I chose and am still choosing to do this, and I won’t leave the path I’m on.
I understand that rock star dream now. I want to lead and teach and inspire and touch others; I want to matter past the moment of connection. I know I haven’t found all the steps to living that dream fully yet, but I’ve got a good clue where to start now.
I haven’t found the intimate true love I know is out there either. But I’ve learned a good deal about what I’m looking for, and I know what I have to offer. And between now and when love blossoms, I trust that I will continue to learn and be enriched by my connections, friendships and relationships with others.
So for now, from my little corner of the world, I can proudly say this: 21 months ago, I made a choice to live fully instead of dying slowly. I made an active, challenging choice to go after my ALL of my dreams. I gathered my strength, I honored my gut, and I followed my heart. It’s time to take some more steps and I will do so believing I’m still headed in the right direction. I remain committed to an open heart as I travel, however clumsy and rocky the journey, and I look forward to looking back at this time, grateful for my own courage, the amazing experiences I’ve had, and all the beautiful friends who have encouraged me along the way.
~ cj 2012.09.13