The picture above is of my mom and me during a family gathering of some sort during the summer – most likely the fourth of July back when I still enjoyed being me, as I'm sure you ascertained from my yelling something while my mom is posing in the photo. I'm not quite sure how old I was because I was always big for my age – I'm thinking this is some where around 10-12 years old.
I was very confident then – in my body – in my mind. I knew who I was. I knew who I was going to be. I played hard and I worked hard in school. I still had friends. I didn't think anything was impossible. I loved life even as crazy and wild as it could get sometimes. I embraced life and nature with an artist's heart. Then something changed.
I can see it in photos that come later. I start to look uncomfortable in my skin. You can tell I worked really hard at making sure I appeared happy in photos I posed for but if you caught me off guard you'd see I wasn't happy. A lot had to do with a move my family made during a very important part of my childhood. While we didn't move very far, we moved far enough that I lost friendships that were very important to me and had lasted more then half of my young life.
I turned into a warrior. Everything I encountered was a battle for me including my body and its betrayal during puberty. My work at school was scattered and inconsistant. The best friends I made were either me being a third wheel or ones that never lasted past each progressive year of school. I started hanging with groups of people – swallowed up in the group dynamic. I lost myself in science fiction and fantasy books and drowned my sadness with music. I embraced fantasy more then reality.
I don't remember anyone ever recongnizing the struggles I was going through. I know I was always waiting for the next thing to happen to start my life. I was a clown and often very sarcastic. I was an awesome listener that didn't have anyone that truly listened to me. At least I don't think anyone did because memories fade and get jumbled I'm not so sure about recollections I have now about those times.
What I do remember vividly is being extremely relieved when I graduated from high school. I hated it. I wanted to start my life and high school seemed like it dragged on forever. I know in my senior year that I struggled to hang on to good grades and good friends. I was starting on the road to deep depression and it was eating me up.
Again, I was playing the next thing will start my life game. I thought going to college and studying my current passion with Archaeology and Religion would start my life on the road I wanted to travel. I started off strong at community college, even reconnected with some high school friends. I ended up transferring to a four year university and changed my study to Fine Arts and Anthropolgy. I was so excited about all the possibilities and then blew it all away when I became a binge drinker. It was horrible. I remember my friends across the hall coming into my dorm room one day with a pamphlet about depression and I laughed it off. I was failing. I was miserable. I flunked out and went home after only one year.
I was still playing the next thing to happen with start my life game. Instead of just living my life. It was always the next thing and the next thing that would change everything. This went on for years. Up until I was twenty-six years old and met my future husband. Life had purpose again and I lived it. I enjoyed my friends, my boyfriend, my life, my creativity, my job… it was all good – even when I hit road bumps along the way. Those years from twenty-five to twenty-nine were awesome.
I married my boyfriend when I was twenty-seven and opportunities opened up left and right for us. We loved each other, our time together, our families, our jobs – it was a great way to start a life long journey together. We valued each other and the activities we did together as well as apart. We made a big decision to move to another state (Michigan) when I was twenty-nine and at first it was the best thing that happened to us.
We loved Michigan. It was like we had always lived there and being freshly married we basically lived most of our married life in Michigan. So from twenty-nine until thirty-one we embraced our lives together. Then things became strained because of being away from family and major debt. It started out small but it bloomed very quickly. I lost myself in my art and pretended it was all good. I started really resenting the fact that we couldn't have children easily too and that blackened my outlook more… the next thing to happen will start our life together game reared it's ugly head again.
I thought our life would be a fresh start once we had kids. I had our first son in August 2004 and again life was great aside from new parent issues that popped up we couldn't have been happier about how things were going. We even moved back to Illinois for a short-time before moving back to Michigan to buy our first home. It was bumpy but honest and good for that first year of our son's life… and then I lost me some where in there, through the transfer of my husband back to Illinois to work while I lived in Michigan in 2006, having my parents move in the same year, our second son born in August 2008, my move back to Illinois with my sons in tow in 2009 while leaving my parents to take care of our first home in Michigan and our current life here in Illinois today in 2011.
2011. It's a big year for me because I'm done playing the game. I'm living my life because THIS IS THE NEXT THING – the only thing. I'm it and I'm worth so much more than playing games with my happiness and self-worth. I know these thoughts weren't very smooth coming out. They're jumbled, jagged and raw – I wanted to record it some where so that I can look back and embrace it all and know it's okay. I'm okay. It will be okay. This is the year I SHINE – brightly - for myself.