It’s About That Time

It’s chilly at my place right now. It’s overcast and rainy outside – a day where you can practically smell how raw the air is. I’m sitting here in the apartment I’ve known for almost 7 years and I feel a quiet ending to this phase of my life slowly approaching. What do I mean by ‘this phase’, you may ask? Well, this period of several years when I battened down the hatches and stayed hunkered in order to put one foot in front of the other to get through. A time through which I never planned for a valuable future because I never had a chance to catch my breath and take stock. I just kept going, enduring, surviving without a desire for something more. I also suppose I mean this sequence of unhealthy decisions – drinking, drinking, drinking, and drinking some more and sleeping with strangers while very inebriated in order to prove to my broken self that I am beautiful – which were driven by the false belief that I would ‘never be worth anything good’.

This was back when I would drink almost an entire bottle of wine before going to the bar alone to drink 4 more strong vodka tonics. I couldn’t flirt well enough without the lubrication and the most important thing to me in those days was disconnecting from the reality that I couldn’t sit with sober. I was lucky enough to have a job that paid me well to afford a decent apartment on my own. I didn’t love the work or care much to change my career. I only cared about getting through to the next weekend so I could get shitfaced and detach from the pain that consumed me. I needed an escape from the trail of abusive, failed relationships, from my dead brother, my dead father, from my self-loathing and utter desolation. I never learned how just exist without a little something to take the edge off. So, booze was my best friend for the last few years. It happened. I fell into that hole. I stayed there for a long time. I put myself in very, very dangerous situations. I felt awful most of the time – physically and emotionally. It became second nature to walk around in a perpetual hangover. I didn’t really give it a second thought because the high I could get from feeling buzzed was the only thing I focused on. The only thing I lived for.

I don’t do any of that shit anymore. Thank goodness. I can sit with the discomfort of the chaotic corners of my life without absolutely needing to not feel. I’ve been the woman who drank her pains away for long enough. A deep and thoughtful voice is waking up right now and I would be a fool to ignore it. It’s telling me that I can do anything, literally anything I put my strong mind to. It’s telling me that I’ve been worthy all along, I just had to start believing it (and hot damn, I am believing the shit out of it now!) I’m going to start the wheels of action turning very soon and I’m going to change my career. I’m going to focus on the dreams I’ve always had and I am going to work to make them come true. I’m determined to earn my Master’s degree and the thought of school again at 36 (or 37 or 38) has me feeling very nervous and overwhelmed but also fucking excited. I love school. I love learning. I love reading text and gaining new knowledge. I love the idea that one day I will have something that I have nursed from its’ infancy and it will be mine. It will belong to me because I chose it, not because I fell into it (as with nannying) and it seemed like enough to get me through. I’m not going to live like that anymore. I’m going to let my past go and I’m going to live my life. I’m going to fucking thrive.

And believe me when I say I know it will not be easy. I know there will be more challenges and more loss for me to navigate, but this time I won’t have to recoil and numb myself from the feelings of grief and uncertainty and loneliness because I’m not alone. I never was.

I’m mostly ok with how I used to behave, think, live. I sometimes wish I had started to wake up to being whole sooner. Speculating on the timing or regretting how long it took is pretty useless. I couldn’t see it or embrace it until I was ready. That’s the long and short of what’s held me in this holding pattern for so long. And the fucking great thing about being ready for me is, once I am in that mindset, the one that says ‘the time is now, just do it, take action’, there’s really no stopping me. I feel like a brand new woman. I feel stronger than ever. I feel fierce and poised to strike. I feel as though I have affixed my gaze onto my rich future with the sparkling eyes of a jungle cat, shining with intense knowing.

I am really going to do this. I am going to make my life into what I have always wanted. No more wondering how and why I went wrong. No more beating myself up for past transgressions and mistakes. No more giving up. Just forward momentum full of hope, belief and clarity.

 

Good Girl Addict vs. Where She Came From

So, this morning as I was getting ready to hop in the shower, I glanced at myself in the mirror and noticed the shape of my lips. Random, I know and seemingly innocuous. They’re soft, plump and sensual. I got blessed in that department. Why am I bringing this up? Because it made me think of my birth mother. I have her lips. I never knew that until 2 years ago, so now, sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of a feature I possess and it jerks my memory back to her. Back to the short time I spent getting to know her. Back to when I was learning about her past and accidentally reunited her with my birth father. I remember the raspy quality of her voice that I loved from our first phone conversation. I remember the angle of her chin, texture of her hair, shape of her eyes, curve of her eyebrow. All these she passed on to me. I am physically beautiful because of her.

I was struck this morning by how impactful being able to say, ‘oh yeah, my lips are shaped like this because hers are. Almost like a heart.’ This is something I was never able to do for the first 34 years of my life. And now, it’s a 2 year old habit and I’m always punched in the gut by remembering her. Am I bowled over because the memories of her are too near and raw? Or is it because I’m so eternally grateful to even have the information that she was able to give me? Or, most likely, it’s all because I’m still really hurt, confused and left wanting more about the entire scenario.

I had a wicked, whopping dream about my birth parents last week. In it, I had dinner with my mother, father (I love when my dad visits me in dreams, it’s like he’s sweetly reminding me that he’s around) and birth father. My birth father and I left in my car, with me driving. The road was pitch black, curvy as fuck, with hills as steep as a roller coaster. We were driving fast and the inclines were making my stomach flip again and again. I was terrified that we were going to crash. But, we arrived safely at my childhood friends’ house who lived a few doors down from where my mother lives now.

My birth father and I sat on the lawn, talking and that’s when my birth mother arrived. She looked a lot older than I remembered, more shriveled. She walked over to my birth father, put her arm around his waist and said, ‘you know I’ve been with him this whole time, don’t you?’

I said, ‘Yes, I know. Did you know that as soon as you guys left me my mother got sick with cancer and had to have a stem cell transplant and I became her caretaker for almost a year? I didn’t tell you because you both broke my heart when you chose each other over me.‘ She seemed surprised when I told her all this and turned to embrace my birth father. In the dream I felt triumphant – eager even – at the hope of upsetting her. I felt desperate in my need to make them (mainly her) feel as hurt, lost, confused and awful as I have over the last few years. I walked away from them without another word. That’s all I remember.

I woke up feeling triggered and a little ashamed of how much I needed to upset her in the dream. Am I really carrying my emotions about her like that? Do I really want to punish her somehow for abandoning me not once, but twice? Was it truly abandonment at all? When I was born, no. I don’t believe it was at all; she was a 15 year old kid who made a really, really difficult decision. And honestly, I didn’t feel abandoned growing up at all. I mostly felt like there was a hole inside me and that I would never find a true identity. I always felt outside. Apart. Separate.

And now that I know where my eye color and smile lines and eyebrows come from I feel less separate. I don’t walk around without identity anymore. I have far more insight into who I am because of meeting her – that whole nature vs. nurture argument is very valid. However, now I feel abandoned. It took me 34 years to muster the courage and strength to decide to find my birth parents. And once I opened the door it only took me about a month to locate them and make contact. One month versus 34 years. To say I was overwhelmed is the understatement of my life.

I fell completely in love with the idea of her (I only say ‘her’ because she held the most influence in my mind…she was the one that carried me for 9 months and was torn open to give me life. She was the one who held me for an hour and then put me into the hands of strangers, not him). The possibility I felt she offered me was more powerful than I realized. I believed she held the key to allowing me to feel whole. I got lost in the utter romantic, full circle power of that ideal and began to put her into a box that she really didn’t fit into (pattern repeated perhaps?). I also didn’t emote as clearly and efficiently as I normally do. I wanted what she represented to me so badly. Patience and purposeful perception be damned. I’m pretty sure we vomited all over each other emotionally from the first minute.

And then it got to be too much for her. She fell back in love with my birth father (I’m the one who got them back in touch, for the record) and couldn’t handle him and me at the same time. I am fairly confident that she felt I was coming between them. Again. In 1980 I was the baby that split them up. They were forced apart by their families and never spoke again until I reappeared, 34 years later. To be fair, I cannot fucking imagine how overwhelmed she must have been. I remember her constant tears and her perpetual gratitude saying, ‘my daughter, oh my God, my daughter’ over and over and over again.

We had a 5 month run where we talked almost daily and spent time together once a week. Then it all came to a head with some misunderstandings, miscommunications, hateful texts and a 4 hour in person conversation/argument that I still haven’t recovered from. That was in March of 2015…one month shy of my mother’s diagnosis…and I haven’t heard a peep from either of them. And vice versa.

I’m lucky to be able to say I met her. I’m grateful I know why my mouth is shaped the way it is. I’m entranced by knowing that my birth mother has blue eyes, my birth father has hazel and that’s why mine are more green. I’m insanely happy to know that I have 1 half sister on my birth fathers’ side and 3 half brothers on my birth mothers’ side. I’m elated to know where I came from. Finally.

But, like many things in my life (and I’m sure everyone else’s) this reality comes with a few drops of sadness. It’s never what we expect it should be, but always what it needs to be.

Transitional Willingness

I’m starting to accept that my career path is about to change. I’ve been ‘Annie the Nanny’ for almost 12 years now and for a long time, that was a huge part of my identity. I was the woman whom other women could depend on to help raise their children. I was their ‘go-to gal’, and Man Alive, did I love that shit. I loved that the kids would run to hug me when I walked in the door at 8am. I loved that the moms felt comfortable and confident leaving the precious little lives of their offspring in my extremely nurturing and responsible hands. I loved the freedom of not having another adult around watching my every move (there was a HUGE downside to that when the only interactions you’ve had during a 10 hour day were based on playing ‘dragon mommy’ with an extremely imaginative 5 year old girl and all you wanted was an empty chat about the new Starbucks latte coming out with a GROWN UP). I loved that I got paid to laugh Every. Single. Day. And truth be told, I still love that about my job. I got paid to take a 45 minute walk with a puppy today. I got paid to sit on my ass and watch 2 episodes of Walking Dead on Netflix too. Even though I am ready to move on from this line of work, there really are things about it that are priceless.

That said, the priceless moments of down time and exercise – while great in the health and relaxation department –  are making the very real fact that my brain and spirit have no real room to grow at my current job very, very apparent. The old me would sit on this realization for months and months, hemming and hawing and bemoaning the idea that yet another change was about to set its’ sights on me. The old me would wait until the job I was unhappy in started to suck my soul out. The old me would wait for it to get unbearable – loss of sleep, copious amounts of tears, general resentment throughout each day, anger…you name it –  before making a decision to really take some action.

Since I’m big into this whole Evolution of Annie right now I will say that the old me isn’t in charge anymore. The old me had the mentality of a 17 year old. She didn’t accept that change is a very real and manageable part of being an adult. She only saw change in black and white. Alive and dead. So, to her, a change meant the end of something….the death of something…or someone. That’s understandable. I get why that part of me viewed change in that way. I forgive her for that. I just can’t give her any more room to blow off steam.

I have been deep in the transition from the 17 year old I have felt like for the last 19 years to who I am today – the extremely capable, battle-tested, beautiful woman sitting at my laptop in my boyfriend’s house while he works on a music project downstairs (God, I love him) – and I’m facing this new professional pivot in my life with next level courage and awareness. I’m not cowering in a corner, eating or drinking myself into a numb haze to avoid what I know to be true. I’m talking about it. I’m writing about it. I’m reading about it – ‘Transitions’ by William Bridges. I’m giving myself time to work it out in my head before I make a plan to move forward. And I will move forward, I just have to reconcile the internal identity change first. I’m such an emotional creature; always in tune with what’s going on in my mind and heart. That’s gotten my into trouble in the past because my emotions are big, loud and over-fucking-whelming. But I have a better safety net for them now. My emotional barometer is solidly reliable. I can filter and interpret my giant emotions. I don’t let them own me and take over like I used to.  A helpful reminder from my gorgeously kind mother was – This too shall pass. Too true mama. Too. True.

Something major shifted over the last year and a half. I have started to give myself a chance. I have begun the journey back to my true self (my therapist would be so fucking proud) and I honestly can’t wait to see what a healthy dose of self love, patience and consistency will yield. I’m going to come into my own…what that looks like, I still don’t know…but I’m willing, oh, so willing to find out.

Such a fucking revelation.