Officially 34 years old
It’s officially my 34th birthday and that means it’s time for a year-end recap followed by new resolutions. Forewarning: After I finished writing this, I realized it was more of an emotional confessional than a recap of the things I enjoyed and lessons I learned over the past year.
My niece made me a plate where she drew four things we do together: Hug, Sleep, Draw, and Fun. I love her so much!
Last year, I kicked-off my 33 birthday back home, with my younger brother and his girlfriend. My gift to myself was a long-needed weekend with my family. It would be the first in a series of actions I took to start a spiritual cleanse and healing of my broken soul.
I’d first noticed my soul was broken earlier that month, when for the first time in my life, despite all the joy and rush that come with meeting someone new, I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t that I thought I wasn’t good enough for him, but that I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anyone. Ther’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re not deserving enough to be loved by anyone.
I noticed that the fire that burns in my soul–the passion that runs every essence of my being had, over the course of the previous year, been reduced to nothing more than a flicker that was slowly giving in to the cold and darkness of night. I was metaphorically drowning in a wold of self-loathing.
It’s sad, and it pains me a little to admit it in writing, but the truth is that I would wake up every morning hating the person who was staring back at me in the mirror. I knew that if I kept my life on the coarse that it was on, I would never again know happiness. So my sould must not have been completely broken, because resiliance kicked in.
I decided to reset. And to reset meant going back home, getting in touch with my roots, and remindng myself of who I am at heart. So, I went back home for a weekend.
Sometimes back home is the best medicine anyone can ask for. I arrived on the day of my niece’s birthday, and spent the evening celebrating it with my family. I felt a ribbon of warm begin to break the that dampness in my soul, and knew I’d made the right decision.
I decided then that my main goal for the year was to fuel my soul and that meant doing three things. The first, actively cleansing my life of the toxic people and situations that made me miserable. The second, learning to rely on others, and third–reestablishing relationships/reconnecting with those friendships I valued a lot but had let slip away due to distance and general changes in life.
The individual “toxic” friendships, oddly enough were the easiest of the three to manage. It may seem a little harsh, but I decided that to heal my soul I needed to surround myself with people who would bring me up, but who also weren’t afraid to tell me the truth-in a respectful or well intentioned way. I would have a zero tolerance for bullies–anyone who took low shots at me, or said things to bring me down would automatically be discarded from my life–no second chances. The results? Three less friends–one eliminated as recently as last night–and peac of mind. I have no regrets. The sense of relief I felt at the end of each “friendship,” was an affirmation in itself. The life I felt swept back into me as I swept them out was all the validation I needed for detoxifying.
Getting rid of the most toxic situation in my life would be the most difficult challenge, because of my dependability on it. My job at the time, was by far the most unhealthy situation I had ever been in. For a year I had been crying every day on the commute to work, and for a year I had cried myself to sleep almost every night at the thought of having to go back the next day. It was so bad, that I often wondered if this is how women in abusive relationships feel? Trapped between choosing freedom and life, over the ability to afford to live? It was an unhealthy situation–that offered me a life of imprisonment.
I couldn’t just quite my job. I’d been living pay-check to pay-check for three years and had no savings. If I quit, I’d have no way to pay for food or lodging. I’d be trapped in a cement jungle with no means of escape. The risks of leaving a job before having another lined up were too great. Yet, my current situation was sucking the life out of me. It was a catch-22. I was unwilling to reduce myself to homelessness. Anything, even a job I hated, was better than the active decision to become destitute. I needed a drastic change. I’d been applying for jobs for over a year, rarely getting interviews. Rejected not for my qualification, but because I was already earning more than businesses were willing to pay me. How can you tell a propective employer that your sanity is worth more than money, and not come off sounding crazy? I searched on, all the while knowing that something had to change. I needed to make a change.
In October I decided to open up my search. I realized that being head over heals for someone would do me no good if I didn’t like myself, and liking myself started with re-empowering myself. Re-empowering myself would mean change–major change, and a willingness to face the unknown, I needed to be open an uncertain future. I begrudgingly welcomed the distance that enclosed itself between me and everything–everyone I need to keep at a distance to allow for the change–even if it meant I broken heart.
It wasn’t just my job that was killing me, it was the city too. The city and everything that it encompassed. The beauty and eclecticism of this magical city where everything you dream of is possible, so long as you play by it’s rules–smile and shake hands with the right people–and become an image of the person they want you to be.
I was unwilling to play that game. “You’ll never get where you want to go if you don’t play how we want you to play.” That was the message I was hearing, but one I refused to play by. I am who I am-no apologies. If that made finding my place more difficult, if that meant climbing up the ladder damn near impossible, it didn’t matter. I knew if I lost who I was, the flickering flame would become less than an ember. My soul, although broken, was not yet destroyed and I was unwilling to let it come to and end.
I expanded my job search. I made a list of the things that made me happy and decided that if I couldn’t afford it, I would become like the rest of America and charge it to my credit card. In the process, I learned, that money could, in fact, by happiness… at least temporary happiness.
I started telling my friends “Yes,” when I normally would’ve said “No.” “Yes” to a weekend of snowboarding, “Yes” to dinner, “Yes” to a play, a hike, a movie. As the charges on my credit card grew, so did my soul begin to fill–even if only a little. I began to feel a new sense of self-worth and a sprinkling of happiness.
I flew to my dad’s for Thanksgiving, spent my first Christmas alone, but it was worth it to spend Three Kings Day with my sister, my mom, and her extended family. Each visit with family fueled my soul a little more.
I flew back out in April to spend 3 hours with my brothers and sister–the first time in 5 years that the four of us would be together. In those short hours, I felt my spirit infalte with an energy I’d forgotten exhisted. Only thsoe with simblings they charish can possibly know the healing power of togetherness.
Then, in the summer, when it looked like it would be another year before I would find another job–when I felt the most trapped–I bought myself a road bike, and another ticket home.
The road bike became a living metaphor for freedom. I named her Lucinda, and imagined her to be a winged creature that set me flying across the city–my happines floating along the wind currents. Those rides helped me escape my reality. That bike became my oxygen–life.
My ticket home, however, was once again, the better investment.
It was during that trip too, that I took the final step and reestablished old and needed friendships. I was scared to call upon those old friends at first–fearing rejection because it’d been so long since we’d spoken. But I made the decision not to take it person. That if the outreach was unmet, I would thank God for the season they spent in my life, and move foreard. But they accepted, we reconnected, and I felt my confidence begin to return.
Sometimes you need to be alone with the land that raised you.
I have no doubt that the earths energy spoke and breathed new life into me while I was there. Nor that the unconditional love and support that my family and friends showered on me was the last bit of fuel I need to get make it through the summer.
The energy from that week, became my Red Bull–the last push I needed to reach the path of a new beginning.
That summer was one of the hardest of my life. As Fall approached, my spirit began wane. All the positive energy that I’d gained from going back home began to seep away–absorbed by every negative comment and situation. I began to feel lost again. Sometimes it felt that no matter what I did, there would be no end to this circle of unhappiness. So I prayed, and continued to work toward change. I kept applying for jobs, joined a new soccer league, and searched for distractions from my own unhappiness.
Eventually, the call came. An offer for a new life in a new location, a means to wipe the slate clean and start new.
The decision was easy, but I was terrified. I now cried from fear rather than anguish. My dreams, that had for the past year been riveted with nightmares became convoluted messages of hope and new beginnings. My cat, and my best friend who’d been absorbing my sadness for years, became friskier–taken with a new energy of life. I think he sensed a change for the better.
I decided to take a chance and openly reached out to my friends to ask for support. They came through stronger than I would have imagined. I realized then, that all that time I’d wrapped myself in self loath, I’d been surrounded by a love and support I’d been too afraid to recognize or accept.
The move came and went, and with it I started a new life. I’m three weeks in and filled with a happiness I haven’t known since childhood.
My occupation fills me with a sense of purpose. It challenges me in a way that awakens my mind. The town I live in breaths into me a new sense of belonging.
My family and friends, although at a physical distance, have shown a support unlike any I would’ve thought I was worthy of. A support I’m learning to accept humbly and to trust to fill me with joy.
My resolution for this year? To continue to know and accept happiness. To let my spirit guide my adventures, and instinct to guide my decision. To never again apologize for being who I am, and to continue to learn to love the person I have become. I will continue to rid myself of toxic energy, to cleanse myself of negativity, and vow to openly trust. To trust in life, to trust in myself, to trust in those around me, to accept goodness and to admit that I am worthy of happiness.
Let this year’s resolution be my gift to me.