My birthday was last Friday and maybe it was the previous night’s scotches or the five hours of sleep I was running on or perhaps the imminent arrival of my period but I woke up as a weepy, morose 32-year-old. Why? Most women have their worst birthdays on the ones that end with a zero. 30, 40, 50 all feel like milestone birthdays tainted by ageing, wrinkles and regrets. Yet for me, 30 was great and 32 sucked.
To get out my funk, I went for a walk in the prairie fields with the sun shining down and the air smelling crisp and clean. I had my favourite podcast on and I was ready to leave my shitty mood in the mud. But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I cried. I don’t cry often at important, big things in my life. I’m an empath so I cry at reunion videos, other people’s plights, cute commercials and public professions of love. I don’t cry over my own feelings but on my 32nd birthday, there seemed nothing else to do but cry. I felt like a tight rope walker over Niagara Falls; one without a harness and using those long poles for balance. And as I walked my personal tightrope I could see all the major events of my life perched upon the pole. I’d think of one of the bad times and feel myself wobbling towards the dark pit of despair and then I’d shift my focus to the other side of the pole and remember something amazing that had happened and I’d feel my soul brighten. It was this internal battle of regrets, wishes and gratitude. Back and forth. “I should’ve finished university” versus “We have such a beautiful home”: the walk was an intricate dance of trying to balance out my life so far and find peace with it. More importantly, I had six kilometres to do it in. I clued in around kilometre two that my Old self was battling my New self.
I was looking at my past and remembering the little girl who had always wanted to be a kickass lawyer who never wanted kids. A young woman who wanted to be a writer and travel the world as this independent, totally cool bad ass. A young mother crying post partum because she didn’t know what to do with the baby laying beside her. A wife trying her best to be the wife her husband wanted while not allowing her morals or values to be compromised in the process. Then I’d look to the future, one unknown but filled with hope, longing and truthfully, a fear I knew didn’t belong there. I envisioned myself as a famous author. I saw a blog that reached women globally. I saw my husband as a successful, wealthy businessman. I saw my daughter as a well adjusted, kind and ambitious young woman. And within all that was the nagging question of “how do we get there?”
I was sad for the way my life didn’t go as planned while trying to find a way to NEVER feel that way again. I wanted my next 32 years so be so rich and full and steeped in so much love, I would never do The Six Kilometre Cry Walk on a birthday ever again.
I was feeling sorry for myself too. Most of my friends have their families complete: they have the exact number of kids they discussed in the dating stage of their relationships and those children are all healthy, smart and thriving. Many have never known fertility issues or miscarriages. Many have never known sleepless nights of panic or the borderline psychotic need for more children. Some of those tears were for the babies I lost, the babies I’ll never have and the relief that I’ve made peace with it finally, on my own terms.
Similarly, many of my friends have their careers established; many knew exactly what they wanted to do and they went out there and got it. My circle of strong, successful friends are property managers, chiropractors, nurses, entrepreneurs, stay at home moms, daycare providers, government employees, etc. I’ve spent the last 15 years not having a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I went to journalism school under the pressure from my parents to do something lest I never do anything post secondary and I truly hated it 80% of the time. I loved to write but journalism was so much more. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress, deadlines, propaganda and hours forever. Honestly, I was lazy and wasn’t willing to suffer through those necessary years of my career to get to my 300th idea of becoming a sports broadcaster. Then I flitted between cleaning houses, selling security systems door-to-door and serving drunks while living a bullshit existence of overdue bills, too many parties and soul-sucking relationships. When I went back to university with the intention of becoming a chaplain I was so sure that was my calling. I knew I wanted to help people and my spirituality was strong by this point. I wanted to help people cope with tragedy and loss. But then I got pregnant with my daughter. I dropped out of school and although I’ve taken a few classes here and there, I’m still not done. So I lamented over that fail without seeing how it led me exactly to this minute of writing this, with my family downstairs, their bellies full of delicious food, a roof over their heads and their health intact. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been there. All of those “theres” led me to Now and my Now is pretty amazing.
But as I walked on, the pole tipped again back to the bright side, my greener side. I realized that Old Me had surfaced and was calling the shots on this tear fest walk. Old Me was focusing on all the terrible mistakes I had made, the poor decisions I chose, the insecurities that led me down the paths I had been. I allowed Fear to knock on the door of my hibernated old self and for some reason, she answered. I became aware that Old Me still had the bad habit of comparing herself to others, wishing for the lives of others and not believing she was good enough. My eyes were clouded by judgement, Fear, comparison and pity. It’s not a becoming look, I can tell you that much, especially with tears baking on your face in the warm sun! I wasn’t looking at the situation through the eyes of New Me; the me that was emerging more and more each day. A New Me realized what was happening. I had to change my thoughts.
That realization is an important one: each day, each minute even, we have the opportunity to choose again. We choose how we see each situation, each event, each reaction. We CHOOSE that. I was choosing to let old fears and insecurities creep in and I knew that that wasn’t who I was anymore. I’ve come too far. I’m a goddamn Phoenix mama three times over. I have a strength and a resilience that have no time for pity and self-loathing. So by kilometre four, I chucked my imaginary balancing pole like a javelin back into the past and looked down at my two sturdy feet carrying me across the Earth.
I was standing. I was standing on two, strong capable legs. How many people in the world wish for that? Sadly, too many. I was in the sunshine, in shorts and a tank top unworried about my attire or who would see me. How many women are condemned for their personal preferences? Too many. And I thought, “Here I am, at 9:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, alone, walking in the fields of the prairie, engulfed in sunshine and blue skies.” How lucky was I?! I have a schedule and arrangement with my husband that allows me to put our daughter in daycare two days a week so I can work on my small business and new blog! Who else has a husband who encourages his wife to follow her dreams? I hope many but I don’t know them. I’m so beyond blessed.
New me has *almost* let go of Fear and I am living predominantly in a place of Love. It’s a place where dreams are actually obtainable, kindness is second nature and necessary and love is the Way and the Truth. New Me was dormant that morning but she was in there. She needed to remind herself that Old, insecure Kelsey wasn’t permitted to join in on our days anymore. She needed to make a choice how she viewed her life. Did I want to victimize or optimize? Easy answer: optimize.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
When we choose to live from a place where Ego and Fear are prohibited and we have the self-actualization/awareness to know when they’re trying to break free from their cage, beautiful shifts happen. Life is a constant litany of stimuli, expressions, experiences etc. that we need to translate and make sense of. It’s better when you’re in the Love bubble. Trust me on that one. After my cry Friday and my self-actualization, I felt 1000% better! I invite you to do the work to find your place of Love and of letting go of Ego and Fear.
United we rise,