Growing up

I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave,  it’s beginning to awaken.  2019 will be my last year of grad school.  Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah.  It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!  I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)  

We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures.  I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth.  That capacity gives me hope for us all.  It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.

Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:

  1. Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content.  Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do.  Guess who pays the highest price?  
  2. Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me.  It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later.  That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
  3. Structure and routine are not dirty words.  I have to learn this somehow.  I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
  4. I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay.  Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful.  Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.  
  5. There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner.  There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them.  On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life.  Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things.  Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe.  Some people might not see them at all.  Guess what?  Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me.  That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth. 
  6. My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch.  I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between.  I love them all and I hope they love me too.  We are all searching and searching is key.  Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey.  This is my journey.  
  7. ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level.  Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process.  Until then, I’ll keep doing my best.  Mostly.  Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
  8. Love Wins.  Every freaking time.  Unless we choose hate.  Ick.
  9. It’s the small things that are really biggest in life.  Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
  10. Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days.  Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
  11. Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving.  At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
  12. I will be unapologetically, unequivocally  me, even when it makes me squirm.  Especially when it makes me squirm.  Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me.  I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.”  That’s so right!

The magic is in the mercy.  The gift is in the grace.  Over and over and over I fail.  Over and over and over I receive these compassions.  I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making,  lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.

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Life

There are occasions that I wish I could go back with my magic wand to erase certain points in time; there are other times that I’d like to go back and sprinkle more pixie dust where I previously restrained myself from doing so.  As this post-divorce journey complete with the roller coaster of grief, healing and transformation progress, I am still at times surprised by my own strong emotional reactions.

My beloved Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.”  There is intense applicable truth for me in this quote.  Recently, I was retelling my precious Mother something I had done that left me full of regret and shame.  She replied with, “Sarah Ann!  That doesn’t even sound like you!”  (She’s right, I know).  In other instances, I have found myself jumping quicker into aspects of a relationship that I ‘normally’ would think to hold much more stringent boundaries around.  This time, I scold myself…”Sarah!  Gaaaa…this isn’t even you!”  Hmmmm…is it not me or is it the me I have always restrained?

A dear friend mentioned “this version of me” in a conversation about this very topic.  Initially, this was a struggle to understand.  How can I be authentic and still a very different version of myself…what is real?  We are always changing, ever evolving, consistently transforming, right?  It seems the harder we resist change, the stronger change overtakes us.  I guess it’s all about riding the wave but why is that so much easier to preach than to practice?

In the ongoing self study I am doing, there are absolutely new aspects of me that are emerging.  I’ve decided that there is far more value in embracing and accepting myself than there is in trying to discern whether the aspects are truly new or just now being allowed to be present.  In the multitude of errors I’ve been making, there are lessons (albeit painful), there is growth, and mostly…there is grace.  I have to talk myself into the last one though.

HUGE valuable lessons I’ve received lately, they’ve been hard but in light of trusting the process and enjoying the journey, I’m doing the best I can to take accountability, apologize and move forward.  There’s always that inner voice telling me to make things right for everyone else and it’s exhausting.  One thing at a time, right?

  • Sexual intimacy…no matter what I tell myself…changes the emotional attachment dynamic.  When sexual intimacy occurs too early,  it can decrease brain power and increase ideation….thus elevating the chances that inappropriate emotional reactivity will occur.  Ugh.
  • People will judge behaviors.  Only God and I get to decide the best actions, thoughts and behaviors for me.  Feedback is always appreciated and weighed carefully, but in the end, the one who will confront my inner conflict is me.  So…thank you for caring enough to share, I promise to weigh it carefully.  🙂
  • Dating is an adventure.  There are friends to be made, things to learn about others and myself and tons of value in this season…but I still miss my family as it was and that is okay.  Grief for a loss and celebration of new can absolutely walk hand in hand.
  • Due to a chaotic childhood, I tend toward the ‘what if’s’ and control.  Not control to control; rather to keep my world feeling safe.  Not everyone (actually no one) is super appreciative of that…including me.  Rather than constantly worrying about creating safety through control, I’m changing my definition of safety and remembering my God, who has me in His hands…that’s really the only safety assurance I need.  (coming to terms…a process!)
  • Just because I have a great imagination and may have determined exactly how something will play out does not make my determination accurate.  As a matter of fact, following my imaginary scenario results in the aforementioned emotional reactivity which I strongly desire to move away from.
  • I may have missed a few spectacular opportunities because of my own reactivity.  I have embraced the icky lessons, asked forgiveness (from myself too), defined what I can do different next time and moved on with grace.  I still hate myself a little bit for it though.
  • Unrelated….the stroke has less power over me than it once did but still too much power.  Working on that.  Trying to replace my fear with constant faith and gratitude.  Keeping my eyes and heart open…I am incredibly blessed and I know it.

“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” – Anais Nin  It is remarkable what I have learned through the errors that are ‘so unlike me’.

 

Grateful in all things.