Pixelated pictures are like the moments hidden between uncertainty and happiness. We furrow our brows in confusion, trying to make sense of what isn’t quite whole yet. Those in-between moments where we pause, we wait… finding ourselves feeling uncomfortable not knowing the outcome, longing in anticipation for the photo to load already, to become vivid and clear, so we can exclaim our approval for a beautiful photo captured.
I need to take a moment to talk about the big “F word”. No, not that one.. FEAR. I’ll be brutally honest in saying that this year alone, I have cried more than all of my years of living put together. I have had moments that have brought me down to my fucking knees, situations where I didn’t know if I’d ever recover, let alone get up off the floor. Up until this recent year, I was that person who always kept it all together. It wasn’t uncommon for me to go two, sometimes even three years without shedding a single tear. I guess I get that from my mom, having only caught a glimpse of her sobbing once, over 25 years ago. I was 5 years old at that time, and my mom had just decided to become a single parent, after the father of her children took up with our babysitter. I will never forget all the times I repeated to myself like a mantra, that I would never let anyone get the best of me, that if my mom could raise three children on her own, in her 20’s, that meant I could overcome ANY obstacle. To me, she was the most heroic woman to walk the face of this planet, and I was so proud to call her my mom.
Since that day over two decades ago, I have now witnessed my mom cry on one other occasion. As any of you might be able to guess, those two memories really stuck with me, but for reasons one might not think. The reason they were imprinted on my brain is because it finally led me to understand the unfortunate thing about holding someone on such a high pedestal. It makes it difficult to bring them down to ground level so you can see them for the human they really are. Flawed. It took me this long to figure out that my mom, while doing her absolute best to raise all of us to be the most well behaved of kids, left out some pretty important life lessons.
Due to many conversations not had in my childhood, left behind in a “topics not to be discussed” pile, here I am, in my 29th year of life on earth, realizing that I am without a doubt, experiencing the most challenging year of my life. People who know me on the surface might be surprised that I wouldn’t slap that label on the day my parents divorced, or the continuous change in foundation from my family uprooting and moving every year, to the countless schools I had to be “the new kid” at, to a life of living between split homes. Or one might assume that suffering from chronic depression, battling substance abuse, the trauma of sexual abuse, or the years of abusive relationships that followed the sexual abuse would be the roughest patches in my story, but they’re not. To be entirely honest, it wasn’t anything on that list that broke me, because there was always this part of me that knew, regardless of what I was going through, that I was gonna toughen up, battle those demons, get my damn voice back, and continue my life like the boss I was. But guess what? that was fear. That was fear speaking for me all of those years.
Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to introduce another important member of this story: vulnerability. Or rather, the lack of appearance of said word in my life’s story.
Talk about unwanted company. Vulnerability, you are not fun. It is almost as if the Universe, while thumbing through the autobiographies of every human being on earth, stumbled across MY file and shouted, “Hey! look at all these life lessons this chick hasn’t learned yet! I can’t believe this, she’s about to be 30 years old! Oh no, no, no honey, we’ve got to do something about that, fast.” and so the Universe went about dropping test, after test, after test into the middle of my lap. Vulnerability came charging head first into my life through the form of continued years of decreasing health, the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, the death of my only grandmother, which just so happened to land simultaneously on the same week my favorite uncle passed away 6 years ago, to some serious hardships between me and my partner, which eventually led to the end of our relationship. Add in hardships between me and my own self for good measure.
All the hard work I’d invested in myself, the hours upon hours of therapy, the time spent in complete solitude, getting to know myself again, healing my wounds, opening my heart to another after having been so incredibly bruised and broken so many times before, getting in touch with my passionate self, and finding my enthusiasm for life and living… let me tell you, getting to the point of a functioning human being took every ounce of energy in me. It was a slow, ugly process, and somewhere in that time of building myself up, something else took form. At first just one brick, then an even slab of mortar, followed by another brick. Every new piece carefully placed on top of the one before, three decades worth of time spent building a tower of protection around myself, all to come crashing down in a matter of months. This year, beyond measure, more difficult than any other, because this time, my heart was involved.
Truth is, the Universe has been so clever in finding ways to test my deepest rooted beliefs. It has made me question my future, and my inner strength. It has singlehandedly tied my hands and feet together and forced me to look deep within every dark corner I’d been ignoring and neglecting. Forced me to see that it is possible to live your whole life without looking in the mirror. That you can literally spend the whole damn thing pointing fingers, being a victim, and having everyone in your corner and on your side. The pill most difficult to swallow though, was the harsh reality of learning no one but me is responsible for sewing the seeds in the garden that is my heart. No one else is to blame.
As the end of 2017 is coming to a close, I cannot help but look back and reflect on so much of my life that has gone by thus far. Many of those years have been stories and experiences that have followed me around, replaying like a track stuck on repeat. It has taken 29 years for me to come to realize that life is not something that happens to you, that I actually have a say, and quite a bit of control over what happens if I would just open my eyes and put my foot down. You see, using my voice is not something I learned at an early age, it’s an entirely new lesson to me. One that I’m learning to exercise, along with no longer allowing past experiences to dictate my life. Learning to allow experiences into my life that bring positivity, and peace, because I am so done being a victim. I am so tired of that story, tired of keeping fear as a companion. More importantly, I’m ready to meet my future self and all she has to offer. I know that if I remain open to continual growth, I can and will sew seeds to the garden I’ve always imagined cultivating. 2017, you have been one hell of a fucking year. But I’m still standing, this time ready to take on the next step in my life with a softened and open heart. Like waiting on a pixelated picture to take form, I’ve come to learn that there is no finish line to healing. There is no end goal to healing your soul. It is all one, long, continuous journey. One might call that a pixelated picture, but it is the whole picture. That is the journey.