All right, maybe not five. More like four and a half. But still. It’s been that long since my whole inner universe turned upside down and the stars exploded through my veins and insert more melodramatic claptrap here. Basically, I broke up with someone I’d been with for a long time. And then I moved to another state. And then my brother died. And things got scary financially. And also life and stuff and things and also insert Celine Dion’s All By Myself at the end of this sentence for some extra emotion.
Honestly, guys, ho-ly crap, though, it’s been a shit-storm. And all is not perfect, but that’s okay, because all is not bad, either. And that’s the first time I can say that with any real conviction in a long time.
When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t know what to make of it. Sure, it seemed dramatically scenic, but could I call it beautiful? That word seemed to apply to something that had some kind of personal, positive emotional tie, and I didn’t feel any emotional ties to this region. How could I? I was born on the opposite coast, lived a decade land-locked in the middle of the country, I’d made my ties elsewhere. But I hadn’t made them here. And I had happy feet. I had a wanderlust that hadn’t been tempered, so I was prepared to give up on this place in search of something better on more than one occasion. Plus, when things hurt badly enough, sitting still feels like torment. No distractions, no epic adjustments…just you.
I’ve done countless “just me” things in the last several years. And as I sit here, I wonder what I know about myself that I didn’t know, say, five years ago. Some major things pop into mind:
-For one, I feel best when I’m needed. And while this is rooted in compassion and a desire to see people properly taken care of, it can also suck at your sense of duty to yourself. It can mask self-neglect. It can foster a false sense of identity. Especially in women. I can’t give myself too much flack about this, though. I was raised in an old school kind of way, after all, and it takes a long time to counter those thoughts. But after feeling empty, after witnessing my sister enter the convent and my brother passing away, I was left wondering who’s left to take care of, to worry about…but myself. And that was a heavy, hollow thing to sit with. Who needed me? Well…I did, of course. So now I’m trying to understand how that works. I’m trying to be okay with that.
-For another thing, I had about a millimeter’s worth of understanding where my own potential was concerned. I’d only begun to scratch the surface of what I was capable of five years ago. I mean, I was utterly clueless. I had no idea that I was such a coward, but I had no idea I was so badass, either! It’s true. I’d done a few cool things, but some part of me still doubted, if thrown into a tumultuous ocean all alone, whether I’d survive it on my own. I mean, who the hell was I, anyway? When there was no juxtaposition of a significant other, or siblings to care for, when it was just me…could I drag my grieving ass off the muddy floor and learn to speak up for myself, learn to push myself and prove myself? Did I believe I had what it took? No matter how boss I may have looked from the outside, on the inside I was losing my shit. But now…all kinds of interesting things are happening to change my mind. Which leads to point three….
-What I want and what I’m good at. Did you know that I rock at marketing other people’s stuff? Did you know that I’m a natural born strategist? This is a ball of yarn that’s still unravelling surprises, but so far so good. I always had a strong pull toward marketing, and it’s been a big part of my life for many years (since before my first book came out). But the fact that it (as well as writing) has become a part of my day job, as well, is a pleasant surprise—and one I wouldn’t have had the chance to accomplish had I run away from my fears instead of standing to face them head on. I mean, picture a shaking girl with one eye open and a big old bull running at me with the word “life” pinned to its chest…That was me. I had to play a game of chicken with life far too many times. And it turns out, even when life threw the most horrendous bombs at my head/heart, I didn’t die. I actually didn’t explode and then melt into a pile of bloody goo a la True Blood vampires. In fact, I’ve withstood life’s tragedies with more grace and more strength than a lot of people. And this shocks me more than anything else. Where does the strength come from when I need it? And don’t even get me started about dating. That’s a whole other post.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged, but I guess I’ve just been trying to get my footing before I said anything else. This is the first time I can honestly say, in 2 ½ years of living in Seattle and double that since becoming single, that I’m starting to feel like I’m home. In my own skin and in Washington state. And it’s about damned time.
Turns out we can choose to swim instead of sink, which is a good thing, because I do love the water.