I ran away from home once. I was nearly 25 years old, newly divorced, and feeling restless. And for the first time in my life, I wanted to rebel. Rebel against the small-town life that lay before me if I stayed, against the suffocating pain of my childhood and early adulthood. So, I packed a couple suitcases, crammed some things into a few boxes, and piled it all into the car with a virtual stranger who I’d dared to start to fall in love with. The promise of a new love, the hope of a future with this man who’d captured my every thought…every heart beat…for the better part of the year, and aimed my car in the direction of Reno.
Together, that guy and I settled into a life that was different from anything I’d ever known. Quiet and calm. Content. For the first time ever, I understood what it meant to be truly happy in life. We got engaged. Married. Bought a house. Had a baby. I found my dream job. From time to time, those storms of the past would start to brew within me, but my soul finally started to feel at peace.
And somewhere along the way…through living the life of wife, mother, worker bee…through the every day, ordinary moments of life…through the laughter and joy, heartache and tears of living…something kind of amazing started to happen. Those gaping wounds left over from the past? They all started to heal. Until sometimes it seems even the scars are barely noticeable. And it’s beautiful and magical and freeing.
But it’s also terrifying. Suffocating.
Because, you see, those battle wounds? That emotional baggage that I toted around with me for the better part of 30 years? For better or worse, it was what defined me. It was the skin that I was comfortable in. And when it was gone, I was left feeling exposed and vulnerable. Uncertain of how to even begin the process of getting to know this woman that I was blossoming into. So, I buried myself further into the busy-ness of life, relished in the chaos. Because I couldn’t handle the anxiety that would build up within me during the quiet moments of life.
But over the past nine months or so, something started to stir within me. An awakening of sorts. I realized that I was finally ready. Ready to get to know this woman that I’ve become. To take the final steps away from the definitions that have been written for me and to finally decide for myself what defines me. It’s been an awe-inspiring process. Feeling myself start to transform, learning to embrace me. Not me the wife, or the mother, or the worker bee. Just plain, ol’ me.
This woman, she’s frillier than I might have thought. She’s learning to love to play with makeup, finding a slight obsession with fun jewelry, and, okay, admitting that she enjoys the occasional unexpected compliment on her outfit. She’s discovering new passions, reconnecting with some old favorite hobbies. She’s surprised me by being completely comfortable with hitting up a movie or her favorite restaurant all by herself. She’s more confident and playful. Kinder and gentler than the woman she used to be.
She isn’t perfect, of course. In fact, I’m learning that she brings with her a whole new set of insecurities and dysfunctions. But I’ve also learned that I like her just the way she is.
And I can’t wait to get to know her even better as time goes on.
“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” ~Unknown