Two years ago to this exact date, I sat upstairs in the guest room of my parent’s house drinking wine alone, writing about 10 important things I had learned in my 25 short years of being alive.
I wrote about how my past self would have guaranteed I’d have it all together by 25.
A house, a husband, kids, and a 10-year plan.
I wrote about how far away I was from any of those things in a borrowed room with borrowed dreams and living on what felt like borrowed time.
I tried my hardest to find beauty and grace in the fact that I felt so far away, even though so much of my heart ached and longed for a life I hoped I’d stumble into someday.
I knew that the best things were worth the wait and I have never been someone who settled.
So, two years ago, I made a vow to myself to keep not settling.
Skip ahead not even a year, and it seemed like everything had magically fallen into place. I was engaged 5 days after my 26th birthday, we had a house, I had started my career, and, to be honest, life couldn’t really get much better.
I have always lived a life that was certain of the things I had control over—my job, education, tangible successes that I could work hard to achieve. But for the first time in my life, I finally felt like I was successful in the things I had tried to be patient for my whole life.
I finally felt certain about all of the things I’d lived my life the most uncertain of.
If you would have asked me then, I would have bet my life that I had it all figured out.
I would have loved to sit down with my 25-year-old self and promise her that everything was going to be okay.
Here we are, 365 days later, and I’m back to the scared, confused, uncertain 25-year-old that wrote that blog post alone the night before her birthday.
Believe it or not, I think this version of myself might even be more scared and more uncertain than I’ve ever been before.
I remember watching the Olympics with my fiancé the month before our wedding and he asked if we were going to be the type of parents who watched the Olympics as a family. The type of parents who made it a big deal and cozied up on the couch together to watch the events unfold. I didn’t think much of it until I saw tears in his eyes and he said, “do you realize we will have a wee by the time the next Olympics happens?” I’ll never forget the feeling of certainty, grace, and joy that welled up inside of my body and manifested as a gigantic lump in my throat as I shook my head yes.
I didn’t know what I had done to deserve a life and a love that was so rich and so fulfilled, but I promised myself I would never forget that moment.
Three weeks later I found out he had been cheating on me since before that conversation had occurred.
Talk about a mind fuck.
Excuse my language, but my best friend claims the best thing that came out of this situation is the fact that I curse like a sailor now, so, there’s that. (sorry grams, I love you!)
This post isn’t about him or us or who we used to be, but whether I want to admit it or not, that situation has a lot to do with the fact that I wish I could just wish this birthday away and wake up somewhere better.
Somewhere more certain.
I am learning over and over that life doesn’t really work that way. We don’t get to fast-forward the bad stuff to get to the good, and just because we have reached a good part, it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay.
If you would have asked me last year if I’d even take the time to write anything about my 27th birthday, I would have probably told you I’d be too busy being married and making babies to waste time on writing.
So, there’s the first lesson I learned.
My writing is never a waste. And if I find myself “too busy” or “too happy” to write, then I am living the life of someone I don’t want to be. That being said, I usually do the most writing when my heart is shattered into a million pieces, so my goal for this year is to learn how to write even when I’m happy.
My goal for this year is to learn how to be truly happy again.
I was reading over the 10 lessons I had written when I was 25, and I actually felt envious of the scared and confused 25-year-old girl I once was, sipping wine and clicking away at the keyboard.
I felt envious of the confidence she had, and I simultaneously felt proud of her because I knew she had to fight like hell to feel so comfortable in her own skin.
I felt jealous of her outlook on life.
Her belief that there was someone so perfect and wonderful out there waiting for her, she just hadn’t met him yet. I felt jealous because this version sitting here tonight is battered and bruised and completely unrecognizable to the lost 25 year old I used to be.
This version has a long journey of healing to get back to the very same ground I’ve stood on before.
I’m learning that I can’t put a time frame on my suffering. I can’t put an end date on when it won’t hurt anymore. I am learning to be patient with my heart and my healing and stop being so hard on myself when I feel like I am breaking all over again.
It’s amazing to me how the actions of someone else can have such a large impact on our worth and perspective. As an outsider, I would tell myself that none of this was my fault, none of it could have been changed or controlled, and that I’m better off knowing now rather than knowing later.
But this version of myself loves to dive down the rabbit hole and promise other things.
It was my fault.
I should have laughed more. Listened to his music. Taken him to fucking Disneyland when he asked me to go.
This version of myself swears that I will always be too much and not enough all at the same time.
This version of myself warns me that no one will ever stay.
That’s where the army comes in.
Man, if I’ve learned one thing over the past year it’s that my tribe is unshakeable.
I have been blessed with a tribe that even I wouldn’t want to mess with.
The kind of tribe that shows up even when I beg them not to.
The kind of tribe that would drag me through fire to get me to the other side of a bridge I burned myself.
I cry every single time I think about the friends and family that helped me stand when I couldn’t even breathe on my own.
I’ve learned how important it is to invest in the people who invest in you.
To fight for the relationships that serve you, and find peace in releasing anchors that no longer do.
I have learned that masks can only be worn for so long, and that even some of the best puzzle pieces won’t fit in your bigger picture and that doesn’t make you bad or them bad, it just means it wasn’t a good fit.
I’m trying my hardest to find peace in all of these things.
But I’ve found myself at war with the face in the mirror, again. I wish I could curse the betrayer and say that it’s all his fault, but I am learning that it was my fault for placing so much of my worth and happiness in the hands of someone else.
I am learning that there is such thing as loving someone so much that you forget to love yourself.
I am learning that sometimes we have to stop and fall in love with ourselves all over again, even when we could have sworn we had already waved the final white flag.
This feels a lot like starting over and a lot like familiar ground all at the same time.
I am walking roads I have walked before, but, this time, I will have to fall in love with new scars and new laugh lines and new eyes that have seen so much more than the eyes I loved before.
I fear sometimes I’m too broken to be loved again, but then I remember my army of broken warriors and I couldn’t imagine loving them any less because of their cracks.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how the love gets in.
I’ve been forced to see myself in a light that I would never wish on my worst enemy. I have loved cautiously my whole entire life in an attempt to avoid the type of betrayal and heartache that I inevitably ended up experiencing. This heartbreak released every ounce of ugly that I’d locked up in the deepest corners of my heart. It released every bit of resentment, jealousy, fear, and anger I’d ever felt, wrapped it up in a shiny package, and willingly delivered it to anything and anyone willing to receive my gift.
I am still learning how to control this.
I am still learning I have the ability to control it at all.
And I fail, a lot.
I usually end up delivering it to the people who love me most.
The few people who still make me feel safe in a world of masked clowns and magicians.
I have seen angles of myself that I didn’t know were even possible. I have been forced to face demons I didn’t even know existed. And that’s not even the worst of it. The worst part is that I don’t know if they’ll ever really go away or if I’ll just have to learn how to live with a new kind of normal.
I think sometimes the experiences we have, both good and bad, serve as paint for the bigger picture of our lives.
We need all of the colors in order to complete the work of art, no matter how badly we wish we could erase the most painful shade of blue.
I’m learning to find peace in this no matter how badly I want to resist it.
What happened happened.
I can’t change that or wish it away. And even on the days I forget it, my dreams will remind me that it’s true.
To be honest, I am not really sure why I’m writing any of this.
Truth pours from my fingertips, tears spill from my eyes, and even though everything inside of me is begging me to stop, my fingers just keep writing.
I’m scared of the truth at 26, but maybe 27 will do a better job accepting what happened.
27 has more days and more nights and more sunrises to make peace with the cards we’ve been dealt.
27 has more sunsets to ask the moon what he thinks we should do.
Right now, life looks a lot like cereal and wine for dinner and avoiding things like BBQs and lawn mowers in fear of placing my hands where his once were.
It looks like surviving in the best way I know how.
It looks like smiling when I can and crying when I need to.
It looks like forgiving myself over and over and over again.
It looks like learning how to ask for help when I need it and space when I don’t.
It looks like drawing boundaries in the shape of hearts around my healing, it looks like giving myself time and patience and grace that I so easily hand out to everyone else.
Life these days looks like making peace with my past and finding even the tiniest glimmer of hope in my future.
It looks like learning that maybe there is such a thing as loving someone too much, but promising myself I’d do it all over again if I ever got the chance.
Life at 26 looks like a tight gripped inhale, questioning over and over again if this is even real life.
27 looks a deep exhale.
An age that never knew his name or touch or felt the scar on his hand.
27 looks like it might be another year to finally get it right.