There was a time, during consecutive seasons of my life, when I used to cry on a routine basis. I cried when I couldn’t pay the light bill and the power got shut off. I cried when the car wouldn’t start on a morning when I was already late for work. I cried if the school called to tell me my child had a fever and needed to be picked up.
During those seasons I was a single parent who felt completely alone in a world which often felt huge, unwieldy, overwhelming and unsympathetic to my plights. Sure, there were friends and family on the perimeters of my life, but they were living their own lives, dealing with their own sets of challenges and besides, my pride loomed large over me in those days.
Oh man! I was such a crier. I didn’t just cry over difficult and unforeseen circumstances, I also cried over the varying aspects of just being me. Sheesh! I cried over songs which triggered memories. I cried whenever I looked at old photos. I cried if it felt like I hadn’t heard from select friends in a long time. I cried when I was occasionally excluded for afterwork socials.
I was basically battling depression for a number of years.
Thankfully— seeing how prideful I had always been (still too prideful nowadays, but I’m working on it) —the majority of my teary episodes happened in private.
The bottom line about the tears is, I thought I had a terrible life. I thought because I had a rough start as a child that my life would always be kind of sucky. The result of this thinking was, I expected sucky things to keep happening. I didn’t feel this way a hundred percent of the time. But I did feel this way half of the time, no matter how many good things occurred.
As time passed, I began to feel less hopeless and less depressed. My children were getting older, so caring for them required less physical labor, which also meant more rest for me. Life was changing in additional ways: job opportunities were improving, providing me with more work experiences. I was basically growing up as woman. And also, although, I wouldn’t have thought so back then, time was actually healing wounds I thought would never heal. I was facing up to my past, getting the mental help I needed, and learning how to take better care of my body.
The process of becoming Maria did not start because I began this blog, I have been becoming Maria for a long time. As simple or as obvious as that sounds, I honestly didn’t realize this until recently.
Three years ago, when I quit my day job and stumbled onto the realization that I had been lost to myself, I thought, NOW I will live the real life that I have always wanted to live. I thought, NOW I will be the woman whom I always wanted to be. And since I didn’t completely know (yet) who that woman was, I figured I would discover her along my writer’s journey.
We cleaned out our garage last weekend.
(Biggest fuckin job ever. Whoa! What a grimy, smelly, surprising and exhilarating job. Whew!!)
Cleaning out the garage caused me to take a walk down memory lane. As I sifted through the detritus of decades of living — there was so much STUFF! —I got to see evidence of a woman who was becoming.
I’m not ready to reveal all that was discovered as I parsed through piles of treasures and debris. But I can tell you this, I saw patterns of behavior, pieces of a side of myself I had routinely tried to bury for a long time. And I was like, Holy shit! There I always was the whole fuckin time!
I may have had an abusive childhood but I learned A LOT from my parents. Much of what I was learning from them would not be understood until Iater, at different stages of growing up, like when I became a parent myself, for example. Experience and wisdom were gifts meant for opening later.
My parents were wounded people, nursing and re-injuring old wounds. I used to think my parents were horrible people for hurting me the way they did when I was so young and so innocent. Even well into adulthood, when I tried to know better and see them differently. Privately, in a deeper childlike place, I held them responsible for my occasional downfalls.
After going on the Love Journey, I learned to see life more clearly. I learned to see who I really am, and therefore, I also learned to see others around me (near and far) for who they really are too. My outlook on life was skewed by the pain I used to be in. My parents didn’t decide to have children so they could torture the shit out of them. Having children exclusively for the purpose of hurting them is akin to looking at your arm, deciding you hate this arm, and lifting a rock over the arm and smashing it repeatedly.
When life wounds us psychically (as in our psyche or minds) we don’t heal magically by sitting around and hoping for the best. We have to get help — in whichever form works best for us, be it through books of self-help or through therapy or other help-professionals, or help from loved ones in positions to offer guidance —in order to become better as human beings. My parents never helped themselves to get better. Living with unhealed, unaddressed wounds caused them to hurt the ones they should have been naturally inclined to protect.
But I thank Goddess for the life I had with my parents. I thank Goddess that my parents were who they were. I am who I am because of my parents. And I don’t say that with a fuck-you-look-at-me-now kind of attitude. I have tremendous respect for the pain-filled people of this world, starting with my parents, because I used to be one of them. I know how hard it is to be living life everyday deeply lost in your own pain. It sucks.
My parents taught me what NOT to do.
As I sifted through old pictures — I always had a camera at hand, I took hundreds of pictures! — I saw the woman I had been trying to be all along. As I skimmed through dozens of letters and cards from numerous women friends through the various seasons of my life— wow! I forgot how many letters were exchanged— I saw the Maria who had been there with me all along.
In my youth, I decided I didn’t want to live a life riddled with pain and sadness the way my parents had. I wanted something more, something special and lovely. I knew I could have a joyful life if I tried hard enough. I tried and failed miserably in different ways, but I never gave up.
I am a life-lover and a light-shiner. I have always been this way. I was never the shy person. I enjoy being loving and expressing love. Sadly, I tried to bury these parts of self because I thought they made me look like a chump.
I tended to look past the appreciative responses to my loving ways in order to focus on the negative responses. I gathered those negative responses like pretty stones found on a beach and I stored them for safe keeping in my mind. I used them as proof to my ego that I should hide the sides of self which were too soft for a seemingly cold-hearted world. I eschewed my natural states of joy and giddiness for feelings of safety and security, preferring the assurance of not being hurt, disappointed or worse, rejected.
I built a life as a woman of armor.
But inside that garage.
I saw the real self I had been hiding, the self I had begun searching for in recent years through writing and blogging.
All those pictures. All those letters. All those work papers and school papers. All the unused fabrics. All the craft store purchases, now caked in dust and mold. All of my STUFF.
I was there all along.
Today is a new day …. literally. I am sitting on my deck on a sunny Monday morning, surrounded by trees and a beautiful blue sky. There is a light breeze and I can hear birds chirping lightly from varying distances. Today, I completely LOVE MY LIFE (even when it gets hard and difficult, even with the inevitable ups and downs). Today, I am so head over heels in love with myself, it is a little startling. 🙂
I am not afraid anymore.
It hasn’t been an easy road and the journey is nowhere near close to being over. I still have fear, yes. Fear is a needed emotion to help keep us on our toes. But I am not afraid anymore.
Today I am free. And there is so much more to share about that, this freedom. But not yet, not yet. It’s coming though …. eventually.
I love you dearly, friend. Thanks so much for reading. Keep shining your own beautiful light.