I had months of reflection before I finally got here. Maybe even a few years — I started this journey a few years ago when I began to question and dig deeper. And I began to write bits and pieces of this birthday essay of thoughts and reflections. I believe everyone is in a season of review before a birthday, whether we are aware or not. But this year, it is different for me. I feel a sense of calm, with a deep knowing and understanding of life. And all of its sweetness and messiness and me.
In contrast, I became overwhelmed and anxious whenever I thought of my Birthday over the past few months. There is a connectedness to a feeling of longing though not urgent — I feel it. I am not thinking of the time that has passed, and I understand that life is linear on some levels. But I know that I have lived many years. And it is possible that the years ahead could be less than the ones I have already lived.
It is as if I am entering someplace of amazement — a place I have never dared to set foot before. I am in a place of awareness — more profound than ever. And I have been here for some time now. Sometimes I have resisted it, but mostly I remained focused on thought and reflection. It is a deeper awareness that I have never experienced as if I am sifting through the pages of my life and exploring the things I have done. Where I have been and of life in itself.
I am taking inventory of it all in this new space between awareness, amazement, uncertainty, and the unknown. My regrets, mistakes, betrayal, pain, darkness, joys, light, what is to come, et cetera. Some of it is hard to define or put into words. Not because I do not know what they are but because they have been hidden or ignored. We tend to keep track of most things in our lives. But it takes bravery to include everything in our tracking system [all of what we have lived]. Those dark parts we tend to keep hidden and ignored as if to save ourselves from some phantom punishment.
I Can Not Remain.
This essay of thoughts and reflections was the best way to realize where I am and where I need to be. Unfortunately, I can not remain here in between. But I must go through this review. Take inventory, possibly make amends and forgive so I can transition to the looming amazement. Do I need to make amends to anyone, or is it just to myself? Do I need to forgive anyone or only myself? I have betrayed myself over and over again to keep the peace and diminished myself to keep others around or make them feel better about themselves while I felt horrible. I have hurt others though not intentionally; I have hurt them. And let others down by not being who they needed me to be. Most importantly, I have not valued or loved myself as I should have.
I have not spoken my truth for fear of some preconceived consequence or hurting someone else. Most regrettably not being brave enough to stand up for myself and speak my truth regardless of the consequences or how others may feel. Saying the things I wanted to or should have said could have saved me seasons of heartache, self-loathing, and repercussions.
Saying yes when I knew I wanted to scream no. Those responsibilities were never mine to be taken. I have stayed in this space longer than I should have. This relationship is no longer suitable for me. Your behavior is inappropriate. No, this does not feel right to me. You are no longer ideal for me. Could you not speak to me that way? It is disrespectful. What you did was not okay. It hurts my feelings when you treat me this way. Your expectations are inappropriate. I deserve better. This is what I need or want right now.
As I took the bits and pieces of words and paragraphs to create this essay of thoughts and reflections, I began to think of mistakes. While I do not believe every mistake is a teachable moment or leads to something meaningful. I do think that some transgressions against myself or others brought about meaningful lessons. There were moments to learn and question and moments when life asked me to dig deeper. But some mistakes were just that, MISTAKES — they happened. I can no longer cling to them even if others have or continue to. I have to let them go to live, to evolve — It was an experience. And is that not what life is about, “the experience?” Good, bad, or indifferent.
I have often written in my journal that I want to go back and change a few things around. But as I think about it now, the only things I would do differently are to love myself, have courage in every area of my life, believe in myself fully, know my boundaries, and hold on to them tightly. All my life’s hurt, messiness, and mistakes stemmed from four things. I did not love myself, did not have enough courage, did not believe in myself, and did not have clear boundaries. So those are the only changes I would make.
This New Chapter.
As this essay of thoughts and reflections formed, I wondered what this new Chapter would look like. This new Chapter belongs to me. And how I write it is the most incredible thing I will do in this lifetime and for myself. How I move forward is perhaps the most important thing to me. And I smile with a sense of peace knowing I get to choose how this next Chapter is written and who appears in it. My life has always been mine to live. However, I was not raised that way or did not know or understand that before. So now I embrace it fully and know that it is so.
I Am Proud of Myself.
As this essay of thoughts and reflections took a life, I had to think of what I am most proud of. I am proud of myself, not because I have accomplished so much. Because I know I am yet to achieve all that I am capable of and all that I was born to do and be. But I am proud of myself because I have never given up on myself or life. Through the pain, the hurt, the tears, the darkness, the confusion, the struggles, and the hardships, I kept going. I kept going even when I did not want to or know how to, and I still am. And without a doubt, I will continue to once there is still breath in my body.
I am not grieving the things I have lost, did not bring to fruition, or past failures. At this moment, I am only grieving my dear dad and my grandmother. I am within balancing the scales of acceptance, responsibility, and accountability because I believe there is still magic to happen in my life. I am haunted by what I may still become — my evolution.
So what will this new Chapter be about, and how will it look — Oh, Dahlings, it will be magnificent.
I want to be courageous because having the courage to do life my way is a blessing I want to give myself before I can no longer do that. I lost my dad when he was just 67, and a part of my choosing to live the rest of my life fully and on my terms is a way to honor him. He loved life and lived it well before he became ill.
I choose happiness as my default — not because life is perfect or ever will be. But because I can choose to be happy regardless of what I am experiencing, it is my responsibility to make me happy.
I want to fully acknowledge myself in all my lightness and darkness — in all my imperfections. My imperfections make me human — they allow me to understand, have compassion and accept the different proportions of dark and light of each human being. They allow me to be kind even to the people who are not nice or have hurt me and to forgive and forget [well, most of it].
Yes, I am fussy about some things because they are important to me in some way or another. I like things done a certain way and am not too fond of small talk. To recharge, I often recluse because that works for me. I enjoy my company above others and do not care to occupy myself with other people’s lives — your business is not mine and never was. Overthinking things and second-guessing myself happens way more often than I would like to admit. I am impatient and can stop being friends with someone without an explanation if they have hurt my loved ones or me. It does not mean I hate or dislike them, and I can still care for that person and say hello if we see each other, but I can not allow you to hurt me or my loved ones again. And I can become as cold as ice in some situations.
My bedside table is almost always a mess. I do not do laundry, never want to learn, and pile my clothes like mini mountains whenever I feel like being lazy [although it has gotten better]. I am a little mean when I am hungry or when my food is not prepared correctly. And I worry about those closest to me, and I want to change them when I see they have great potential to do better for themselves or be better people. I lie when I do not want to hurt feelings and can be strangely selfish.
I Am Also.
But I am also kind [my kindness comes without expecting anything in return], generous, and caring. I am resilient; I care about how others feel and do not like to make people uncomfortable. There is no one I can not think of in my life or this world that I hate or dislike. I may dislike the things they have done or the mistakes they have made, but to hate or dislike another human being is to hate and despise myself. And I would help everyone if I could. I have the most profound patience for everyone over sixty. And I will endure loads of blazing horns at a stop light or sign for any older person needing to cross the street, and it does not bother me how long they take [so if you are ever behind me, I apologize].
I am funny, playful, silly, intelligent, and strong. And I am curious about life and its experiences and contemplate its meaning. I do not care what another person has or has accomplished. And I am happy for any good thing another person experiences. I believe in Love and its goodness. And I am brave, enduring, and can pick myself up.
I am flexible and believe life to be filled with colors and gray areas, not just black and white. When I Love you — I Love you, it takes a lot to change that Love. I am humble and down to earth. My family is important to me — I love them for who they are. If you tell me your secrets, I will take them to my grave. I love and care about my friends and never judge them. I am all of that and so much more.
I want to be so in Love with myself. Every part of me, so there is no room for acts of unkindness or cruelty from myself or others. I believe I will care for myself on my terms if I love myself. And I will honor myself and give myself grace in every situation.
One of the most extraordinary knowledge and understanding I now hold dear is that there is no need to always be doing or going. And there is so much that I no longer want to do. I want to continue with the momentum of living my life slowly to enjoy the captivating experiences that life brings us when we are too busy to see them. I can retreat — I have slowed down not in a non-actionable kind of slowness but in an I can take an instant for myself. Moments to contemplate and moments to be, to write are the things I crave.
My Forever Love, and My Daughter.
I want to savor each moment with my forever love and spend as much time as possible with him. I bottle the moments we share because they bring me joy — those I think about during my difficult moments and make me smile. He makes me excited to live for a very long time.
I want the relationship with my daughter to continue to evolve — we have come a long way with ways to go. And I am so grateful for what we have and what is to come because we each get to become ourselves fully and know that the other is there as a safe space of unconditional Love, understanding, and encouragement.
On Marriage and Love.
I have always thought being married or being in a long-term relationship is so that we both witness each other’s lives, making an effort to make the other feel loved and their best, even in the worst times. To be the other’s cheerleader in every way, and to be there for one another even if it is just to listen. We are there to Love each other through the difficult moments, cry with each other through the vulnerable ones and experience the beauty of life together. I still believe that — I have experienced some of that, and although I had forgotten for a while, I still think about it, and it is what I want.
I want to be loved and know that I am — I do not want to be lovable today but not tomorrow because I did something that person dislikes or is not in the mood to love me. To be loved without constant judgment and criticism. And if criticisms are necessary, they are done with kindness, patience, and health. I want to be loved with kindness, empathy, grace, and compassion. And I want to be seen for who I am, not who I should be or am thought to be.
The space of our Love should be a space of safety of expression. A space where I am unafraid to ask for what I need and want and know that I am heard and considered, even if it is not possible at that moment. I want to have difficult conversations, communicate openly, and experience a true togetherness life. And I want a love where I feel safe all around. Safe to always come to my partner in any situation and safe to show up as myself fully.
What relationships are not?
Relationships are easy in the beginning [although some are not], but during the difficult seasons, you get to experience the most authentic nature of that other person. Love, unfortunately, is not enough in any relationship — it takes effort and a willingness to want to make an effort. But so many of us fall short. Some believe we no longer have to try, while others believe we never have to try because we never had to. Pettiness, cruelty, or stonewalling have no place in any relationship.
On My Parents.
I miss my dear dad daily — it is like a piece of me is missing. After almost two years, I thought the sudden burst of tears would subside, but they are very much there and even more as my Birthday approached. When I think of him, I cry, but I never want to not think of him.
I am grateful my mom is healthy and still here with me. My greatest pleasure is spending time with my mom while she is still here — to know her as an adult and accept her for all she is. I want to talk with her to learn more about her life and experiences. And I want to know about her dreams, hopes, and regrets.
Understanding what friendships are not was entirely unexpected, but I now know what I want my friendships to look like — a small circle of true friends. Beautiful and nurturing friendships filled with Love, laughter, open conversations, no pretenses, judgments, mean girls, or pettiness. With a space for vulnerability, mutual respect of boundaries, no competition, no backbiting, insecurities, jealousy, unnecessary drama, or better than.
To Be Free.
I want to be unafraid of new things and have new experiences. To wake up daily with great expectations of each day’s beauty and newness.
I want to laugh and dance just because I can and want to. Both make me feel alive.
I want to continue to embrace my opinions of myself and no one else’s. And I want to continue with the mindset that what anyone thinks or believes about me is not my business. To live that way is freeing, and I want to continue to be FREE.
I want to spend more time in the moment. Enjoying whatever it brings, even if it is to teach me something. The present is all we have, even if we obsessively think about the past or the future.
So I will not know what this Birthday has brought into my life until much later — maybe by my next Birthday, I am sure of some of the things that are taking me into this next Chapter.
I know that life is long, but how we choose to live makes it short. And that life is simple, but our thoughts and feelings make it messy and complicated. I know I am undoubtedly good with my life so far, although sometimes I am not, which is okay. And even though my mistakes and the regrets in my heart may linger, they can act as scaffolding for my next Chapter. I am grateful that, with time, I have come to understand that there is much more to be learned and revealed for each day I live.
I hope this essay of thoughts and reflections brings you to the point of digging deeper within yourself. Happy Birthday to me.