How has age hit me?

 

The social media world is covered with the ‘How hard did age hit you challenge?’ and I have to be honest it is neat to see people way back when Facebook really became big next to a snapshot of the present. Some people have looked younger today than 10 years ago and others look far older than 10 years ago. It makes me think, what did they do differently? I also think the filters were nonexistent only 10 years ago- so you were forced to look your age… in fact filters are a product of all of this sharing on social media and the desire to have things look perfect. I remember back when my first pictures were loaded from our digital camera, taking many moments to upload multiple pictures for family and friends to see. I don’t think my brain could have imagined how far technology has come today- it took me years to come to terms with digital pictures, they were so intangible- fast forward 10 years and it is all different.

I was curious to see my profile picture from 10 years back so I dove right in. Man 10 years is a long time, and a moment all together. Isn’t it funny how time works, speedy slow? I guess it isn’t a surprise, I remind myself the while you are living in something or through something it is sslllooowww feeling, but in retrospect it was only a moment in your history. I am not discrediting those moments; however, those moments can alter the rest of your life here on Earth, but when you can stand back and look at the time it ticked by at the same speed time always ticks by at.

Looking at all of these pictures and reflecting really got my brain a thinking… I guess it jostled some of my cobwebs and made me dig a little. I saw a lot of people loving their today snapshots more than their past, others wishing they could relive that youth and wrinkles time and some others who didn’t want to acknowledge the older version because she hadn’t been through what the ‘now snapshot’ had. Each different post made me think broader… and try to gather my own self in this. Where did I lie? Was I the kind of person who wished for the softer, wrink-less version of me??? Did I prefer this 2019 version of me? Do I hate the parts between, do I wish I could change any of it???

I came to this conclusion.

It all comes back to my belief that “Age is a privilege not gifted to all”.  I love 2008 ‘me’, 2019 ‘me’ and every bit of ‘me’ between and before. I have yet to meet future ‘me’, but I imagine I will love her as well. I cannot be ‘me’ without every.single.little.and.big.thing in all of my history. I think back to 2008 me…

She was naïve and soft. She had yet to be broken, to be so hurt that she couldn’t stand up. 2008 me had no idea, and I mean no idea, that a marriage contract meant nothing to some… that a person you love so much could get into a car and drive to another woman. She didn’t know any of that. She didn’t know how to love herself, how to walk into a room and own it. 2008 Erin thought she was stupid and worthless… that her value was small because her work felt small and focused on feeding, napping, teaching, cleaning and building little people. She didn’t know she was strong and determined, she had been told that she was fat and her vocabulary was that of a 3-year-old. She was scared of money and being alone. 2008 me lived like trust and respect were things we just gave. She was scared of different and lived in her little bubble of safety. In 2008 she was blissfully unaware that her firstborn daughter would be diagnosed with cancer, and would die. She had no idea the extent of pain and loss that the world had in store for her. She had less wrinkles and better hair… she even wore sunscreen. She attended weddings like it was her social scene, right along with her then husband. 2008 Erin talked about her future, her girls proms, weddings… middle school, grandbabies and sunsets on Lake Ontario with her forever faithful husband…

Part of me thought… Erin, what if I could tell her, what if I could warn her? What if it doesn’t have to hurt so much… what if I could prevent those days of not being able to stand up? What if I could prepare for the missing of Madeline? What if, what if… but what if doesn’t work. She/I needed to be that naïve girl with low self-esteem. She/I needed to think my value was based on my vocabulary and weight… I needed to think I was just doing dumb work feeding and wiping and teaching my kids… I needed to struggle and hurt. I had to be all of those versions of myself, to get to this version. I often wonder what the 46-year-old version of me will be like… she better be amazing and strong and solid… and I freakin’ hope she has written a book and traveled the world.

Who am I today?

Where did these 10 years get me? The thing is that is all how you look at it… one could look at my life, and maybe many do, like I have a pretty sucky set of cards… my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she died, my husband had many affairs and complicated situations arose from those, and we are divorced… sounds pretty crappy right?

I choose to see it the way that it really has rolled out… my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and died- my marriage dissolved and divorce has left me free… free from so many things. I hate that Madeline died, that has altered every second of my forever from that moment around 3am on February 8, 2012. I can’t ever be the mom of 3 Earthlings again… my story changed. I wish it didn’t but I do the best with what I have. Most days I get up and workout and drink coffee and do my job and raise my girls… alongside missing her. My marriage dissolved into a co-parenting situation that mostly is just fine. It was harder in the beginning, but we got better at it. It helps that I have worked so hard at maintaining healthy boundaries for me and my girls- firmly reminding myself of those boundaries. I became better at communicating with my words and emotions, defining my needs and keeping myself around positive people. I no longer just let people into my world… trust and respect are earned not given. It has been a rollercoaster, but it is my rollercoaster. I own it. I own the twists and turns, the broken and the healed… I own the confidence and weakness… I own it all. I own every second of these years- 2019, 2008 and long before…

A lot has changed… a lot has stayed the same… there are more wrinkles, more tears, more pain, more loss, more joy, more building, more accomplishments, more boundaries and lessons. I still have my Jeep Commander, my red kitchen, my lack of love for the Musto Mountain of Laundry and my love for coffee in the am and good red wine in the pm. I wouldn’t change a thing… not even the ugly parts. I love and own my 10 years that passed in a moment. I am grateful the privilege of aging has been gifted to me, I plan to use it well.

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Just Write…

avoidance

It’s been a while, since I have cracked open this laptop of mine. It’s been a while since my fingers typed bits of the stories and lessons of my life and time. It’s been a while since I connected my brain and heart with words for my eyes to see and read. I feel like I didn’t want to listen to myself, like maybe reading what my brain and heart were thinking would be too much or too real. I have avoided my keyboard and kitchen table like they were peach flavored candies or mushrooms… both of which I avoid all.the.time.

What is the purpose of this avoidance? I know for me my fastest and strongest defense mechanism is avoidance. I remember the day I realized it, sitting in my councilor’s office talking out all the things I could not get myself to tackle, even down to my voicemail. She said “Erin, that is avoidance.” I thought, back then, about avoiding knowing that she was right, about putting it away to handle later- but I started tackling things and telling the part of my brain that pushes avoidance to leave me alone. It worked. The thing is, just like Weight Watchers, we can know how to do something and get healthier- but when we get away from practicing it mindfully, we resort back to the easy… and for me my favorite tactic for handling too much is avoidance.

Why? I honestly don’t know, maybe it is just me subconsciously choosing the easy path in my brain. I might just need a way to see only things that are easy to handle… but then I also push those off. I might just shut down when there is too much, and in that case I need to recognize the scale of the pile just before it is too much and my brain starts avoiding… what is my tipping point? So maybe I need work on identifying my tipping point…

So… now you know- I am a hot-mess-human. I am a work in progress. I am working on the progress. I miss this keyboard, and the slow computer that is connected to it… I even miss that the stupid Norton Antivirus reminder pops up 50 times in an hour (or maybe only 1, just as annoying). I miss the way it feels to take my thoughts and brain conversations and watch the screen as my fingers hit the keys and my eyes can read them all. It is much messier in my brain, so the neatness factor of the typed words really helps my everything see order, well order alongside the hot-mess-human that I am.

These past weeks have been challenging, really dark and cold… and lonely. I still sit in the smallness of my family here, and wish the plan had a bigger, louder and less picky dinnertime set up… but alas I give up control and trust that in His time there is a plan for a louder and fuller dinner table to come. To make the month a little harder, because it’s a great idea to challenge yourself at your lowest, I jumped on the Dry January bandwagon. It is a challenge, to sit in myself and just be, with no added crutches or aid, just me. I don’t always like the version of me that I see… so I guess it is an opportunity to work on being the best version of me. Everyone says Dry time improves everything, but I have been sick and tired and dealing with normal mom stuff, divorce stuff, loss of Madeline stuff… all of it… and wine makes it all easier, so I am embracing harder.

All and all, I struggle this time of year every year. I miss the sun. I miss big crazy family time. I miss being social, January is lonely. I miss Madeline… I see kids play basketball and I remember them from her class, I think about these times 7 and 8 and 9 years ago… I just wish it could be different, but it can’t. I found myself sad when a child’s tumor disappeared… excited and sad. I know I was truly excited for her miracle, and sad for mine. It was a hard December and January isn’t rolling out easily… so it has been extraordinarily hard. In these times, times of hard and avoidance, I remind myself that I can do hard things, hard hard things… and it won’t always feel like this. The sun will come out, my heart will get a little less inflamed, my brain will do it’s jobs, my fingers will type and the days will feel lighter. The days will feel lighter. I won’t be in this place forever… and ‘now’ won’t last that long. Tomorrow is Friday… and we are one day closer to spring. I actually scheduled some fun things for the next few weeks… it is always good to have things to look forward to. I will work hard on the right now, the work I need to do to quit defaulting to avoidance. I told myself to just write, just open up that laptop and write… and after the 20 minutes of loading and 500 reminders for Norton Antivirus (well… maybe 2) my fingers have stayed nice and busy and typed as my brain sent out some thoughts… and just like that I am writing again. It feels like it has been 100 years… but it has only been a few broken hard holidays, a trip home and a few work days since my fingers last organized my brain. Thank you fingers for the chatter on the keyboard that pops up on the screen and sends order back into my brain as my eyes read it, thank you… I am glad I have you digits…