Here I am. 42 years old. It was my birthday last week and I was once again blessed to spend it with those I love most.
As with most people, when every birthday comes around, one tends to take it as an opportunity to reassess where you are in life. What you have achieved, what you still want to achieve. How has life been so far? Are you happy?
For my last two or so birthdays, I haven’t had to ask these questions.
However, from about the age of 35, I had started to ask those questions of myself. Let’s face it, before then you think you have all the time in the world to figure things out. You are still “young” right? Suddenly you realize – whoa….time is ticking and you STILL don’t have all your shit together. Shouldn’t you know all this stuff by now? Why are you still searching? And what are you searching for? Is there anything missing? How do you know if there is?
My life has been a rollercoaster (it’s no coincidence that I suffer from motion sickness – the way my has been over the past four decades it’s no wonder that I am notorious for throwing up!). When I become too stressed, my body lights up with warning signals and I eventually have to say farewell to the contents of my tummy. When anyone in my family hears that I have spent time hugging my toilet, they start to panic. The next thing I know, my mother starts to stalk me…. my brother will phone me, asking what’s wrong. I’m not kidding here, one day he showed up at my flat because my mom sent him – she couldn’t get hold of me for a whole FIVE hours. Shock, horror.
My family could rival Carte Blanche for its investigative reporting – news spreads like wildfire between us. It’s so hard to convince them that honestly, this time it’s just a tummy bug!
I may have mentioned before that I am known in my family as the “drama queen”. I can’t control my mouth when I feel someone or something is wrong. I tend to speak quickly and let you know exactly what I feel. On the other side of the coin, I am very sensitive and easily hurt (although I never let this show through my ever so carefully fabricated thick skin!).
At one point, after a particular roller coaster of a ride of almost two years of hurts and betrayals, I had reached the end of my emotional rope. To this day only my sister and my husband know what my true feelings were as I decided to take time away from everyone and made the decision to close myself off from hurtful people and situations. In this way, I would not open myself to people, thereby not risk getting hurt and as a result, protect my heart from anyone who could harm it.
So I spent a while just being with my hubby and my kids, no socializing. These three guys are my safe zone and on them I showered all my love and affection. I think I needed that. A time away for my bruised emotions to heal. A time to re-assess things. Honestly, it was a wonderful time for us as a family, we closed our doors, declined invitations and spent every spare moment together – just us. It was a therapeutic time and I will forever remember it and hold it dear to my heart. My guys knew what I needed and they gave it to me in bucket loads.
I can’t remember when it hit me…. After a while I realized that I was ok and I should not guard my heart so closely. I realized that by denying my true personality, by closing myself off, I was doing myself an injustice.
I love my family and my friends. I love people in general. I love to talk and laugh with anyone (this literally kills my husband – he just wants to pay and go, whereas I can spend an hour chatting to the lady in the biltong shop). When I am along, going to our local shopping center is not a quick exercise. I’m great friends with the lady in the biltong shop and the lady in the bookstore. The bookstore lady – I don’t even know her name, but I know her life story and she’s an amazing, generous soul. The biltong shop lady has been around since my teenager was three years old. When her husband died, I cried in my car when I left the shop. When I fell pregnant with R, she jumped up and down with happiness, knowing all the troubles I had endured previously. She had my biltong ready every week because she knew it helped me with nausea.
I discovered that closing myself off was not the solution to happiness. And so I slowly knocked down my walls. I opened up to people and to experiences. Yes, I still get disappointed and hurt by people. Everyone does.
And so, the last few birthdays have been different. I have come to terms with myself. I am who I am. I am happy in my skin (ok, I’d be happy if my skin was wrapped around a size 8 body, but hey, what can you do?).
I am blessed to have shared over 24 years with a man who loves me unconditionally and whom I love back in just the same way. I have the two most amazing children and I am literally surrounded by love.
I’ve also finally learned to do what my mother has always told me to do – don’t hold onto that grudge. It hurts you more than the person that you are holding it against. My mother – a truly wise woman, why didn’t I start listening to her years ago?
So I may have a heavy and bruised heart sometimes, but that’s living. I may go to sleep, having annoyed some people because I disagreed with them and told them so. And I may go to sleep a little bit sad because I have been disappointed by someone I love.
But it’s ok. I will also go to sleep knowing that I am true to my soul. To who I really am. It may have taken me a few decades to realize and embrace the amazingness of me, but I hopefully have a few decades left to enjoy it (although with my luck, I’ll fall into a sinkhole tomorrow on my way to work).
So …… bring on the next birthday. No more questions. I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of when I was a little girl. I have my fairy tale.
I see the total and awe inspiring happiness that I have in my life. I feel it. I’ve earned it.
And I’m loving it.