Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lessons from 42

It's a month until my 43rd birthday. I'm not dead yet.

If you've been reading my blog for a while you probably know that I was very afraid to turn 40. For many reasons, but mostly because when my mother was 40 years old she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in high school at the time and it seems very big and very scary. She also seemed "old". Not grandma old, but mom old.

If you are a teenager reading this, I am here to tell you that forty is not old. Also, get off my lawn.

I turned forty and basically nothing happened (to my health anyway). Now I'm almost 43 and I'm...happy.

Happy.

My life is so far from perfect that the word happy almost seems like a farce sometimes. The last two years or so have brought some of the greatest challenges I've ever faced.  I've had to make some tough decisions. I've had to face some really painful, terrible things. Parenting adults is completely uncharted territory and I have felt more lost and alone at times than I ever have in my entire life. My dog Ginger, my sweet, precious Ginger, is not long for this world.

There is more, so much more, that does not need to be said. I have challenges. Everyone does.

I'm less afraid though. Recently I read a quote by Tina Fey:

"Say yes. You'll figure it out afterward".

That resonated with me, so deeply. I said yes to something the next day that I had been wavering about and my life has been changing in so many ways. It's different, but it's right for me. It's where I need to be.

One thing that I have continued to struggle with is shame. I have deep, almost all-encompassing shame sometimes about my past.

I have made so many mistakes in my life. I have made so many decisions that were detrimental to not only me, but other people around me. I have believed, been taught, and expressed things that were, frankly, horrendous.  I have said so many times that I am so thankful that the internet did not exist when I was younger. It did exist, but the proliferation of social media in the last few years has really changed how the world connects. I have Facebook. I have Instagram. I am on LinkedIn. People can look me up, including the stupid thoughts I had eight years ago. If the stupid thoughts I had twenty years ago were available for public consumption, many of you would not like me. I certainly would not like myself.

I'm working on letting go of this shame. When you know better, you do better. I didn't know  then, and I do know now. I have zero fear, ZERO, of saying, "I was wrong. I made a bad decision. I know better now. Please forgive me."

It's...freeing.

I recently had this conversation with my children in which I said I was sorry. That for so many, long years I was so angry and bitter and hurt and I know that shaped the way I parented them. They are full of grace, both of them, and immediately said I was a good mom...a great mom, and they understood. They get how my past shaped who I was. They knew I was doing my best. They were proud of me for getting my ass into therapy every week, even though it's hard, even though it hurts, even though it's so painful to own your own crap.

They are precious. They are worth owning my own crap.

I want to tell you, if you are reading this:

It is okay to say you were wrong.
It's okay to admit you didn't know.
It's okay to GROW.


I'm growing.

It feels amazing.

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