Growing Pains

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What a wild ride the past couple of weeks have been. I have gone from living with a boyfriend and a dog to living in a house full of girls and cats. I have gone from looking at the world one way to looking at it quite differently. I have been reminded that there is a whole wide world out there, right outside my door, full of possibility and ready to be discovered. I can stay up late reading my book without disturbing anyone if I want to, I can listen to whatever music I fancy, I can watch “chick flicks” and period dramas and terrible movies like Magic Mike XXL (like I did the other night with my new roommate and close friend). I can go out to a bar, like I did last night, and drink water and actually have a good time because I’m with good people.

Good people. I’m so grateful for the good people in my life, the people who have stepped up and opened up, who have called or texted, who have taken me out or sat with me on the couch while I’ve cried. I’m humbled by the love and support I have received in my time of need, in one of my darkest hours of vulnerability and confusion. They have shown me that there is light on the other side, that when all of this is over, I’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

Though I know that the future is full of possibility, that doesn’t really change the present moment, the moment where I have a roof over my head but no bed or room to call my own (yet). The present moment is where I pull my clothes out of a hamper or a trash bag, where I dig around in my trunk trying to find a pair of shoes or go into the garage to look through boxes of stuff trying to find something random, like Q-tips or a pair of scissors. It’s the present moment that humbles and grounds me, but it is also the present moment that makes me mad. Really mad.

It’s not fair that I have to sift through bags and boxes, trying to find my outfit for the day or my notebook that I was writing in. Well, I ask myself, who said life was fair? Who am I to complain when there are people out there in this wide world of possibility who have less than that? I try to look at the big picture, but it’s difficult to widen the purview when such drastic, tumultuous happenstance has turned your whole world upside down. Upside down and shaken around, where nothing makes sense and everything is in disarray. So what is fair? What and who can I rely on in this crazy time?

What’s “fair” is how I treat myself. These past couple of weeks have taught me that I can rely on myself, that I’ll come out the other side due to diligence, perseverance, and a little lightness. It’s time to buckle down, but it’s also time to lighten up, if that makes any sense. I’ve been making moves these past weeks, but I’ve also been lounging, reading good books, going out to eat, going to the pool or the river with friends, and having mini adventures when and where I can. I’ve been treating myself with care because that’s what I need right now. Just some care, some attention to my needs. What will make me feel good? What can I do to “release” when going on a boozy bender is not an option?

Not only can I treat myself with fairness, but I am also lucky to be surrounded by the good people I mentioned earlier. The people who have my back no matter what, who are proud of me, who know who I am and know where I’m going, even when I don’t know myself. The people who make me laugh or who ask questions that cut me to the core so I have to feel what I don’t want to. Because that’s what needs to happen, it’s what I’ve been working on for the past year: to feel, and feel fully. To feel it all. It’s not always pleasant, most of the time it’s not, but it’s important for me to do so. It’s important for the girl who used to drink a bottle of wine in lieu of feeling anything to feel her shit. And feel it all the way.

This might be unappealing to others, I know that from recent experience, but I don’t care. I’ve got to be honest and put it out there. With respect for others, of course, but also with respect for myself. I have to let it out with tact and care, but I have to say what I mean and mean what I say. What else is there in this crazy world? We have to speak up for ourselves, for each other, for what is right and good. We have to give a shit, to care about ourselves and the plight of other people. This caring can be tiring, but what’s the alternative? Sweeping it under the rug? Stuffing it down? That’s no way to live. And let me tell you, from past experience, it doesn’t work.

Whatever you’re ignoring, stuffing down, whatever it is that you are in denial about, it will come out. Only when it does finally come out, it will be mangled and rotten and worse than you ever thought it could be. It will have altered form and shape from being suffocated, from being trapped beneath the surface. It will be overwhelming, frightening, out of control. What’s the alternative? Hmm…. talking about it? Is talking about it really so bad? It used to seem that way to me. But not anymore.

And you don’t even have to talk about it that much, or right away, or to anyone, or even out loud. You can write it down instead, or talk to yourself. You can speak of it once and be done talking. You can go to a yoga class and leave it all on the mat. You can write a letter that you’ll never send, that you’ll burn or rip to shreds. You just have to release it, to have some form of outlet, to prevent the festering. But there’s nothing like talking out loud to someone you trust, to have them hold your fears alongside you, to hear you. It’s less lonely that way, but it’s not the only way to be heard, to release. To feel support from others is truly life changing, but to feel support from yourself will alter the very fabric of your existence.

I’ve had to learn how to emotionally support myself over the past year and even more so these past few weeks. I’ve had to learn how to listen, how to talk, how to release and let go. I’ve had to learn that resentment or anger feels better than sadness but is perhaps not as productive. But I can and should feel whatever I want, however I want, because at least I’m feeling my shit. As long as I maintain self-awareness, as long as I am aligned with respect and compassion for myself and for others, I can be an emotional mess if I need to be. Because life is messy. Feelings are messy. That’s just the nature of the beast. And pretending like everything is okay has never helped anyone. That’s one thing I know for sure. Pretending is something I am not interested in, not anymore.

I wish you a wild, free life.

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