Every now and then, you read something and it gives you chills. The hairs on your arm stand straight up and tears just flow from your eyes. The more you read, the more you can’t stop and the more everything you knew before changes. That’s this post you’re about to read. It’s such a blend of weakness and strength and vulnerability all in one but the message is one of a warrior. Someone who never gives up!
I’m honoured that she’s sharing her story on my platform – Even the strongest of people sometimes fall apart. What matters though is not staying on the ground! That’s what true strength is! These words describe her perfectly.
“She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.”
― Ariana Dancu
It takes one to raise one – This is her story!
Tomorrow is my birthday. For most people, this means a bit of time reflecting, thinking, maybe cringing, celebrating, ticking off, or just plain old wallowing in what I call the pre-birthday blues.
The blues come a little more often the older I get, although I do appreciate getting older, and it DEFINITELY has its perks. My wardrobe gets better every year. My hair gets better. My experiences matter more, even if it’s only to me and no one else! I care less and less with each passing year about what others want me to be or do or say, and more about what I want, what I want to say, or be, or do. And very, very importantly, I know what is REAL. But this year, and this birthday, is a little different.
This year on the eve of my 41st (!!!) birthday I have homework. Yes. I was given HOMEWORK. And I paid someone to give me that homework! It sounds funny, but unfortunately it’s actually rather sad, and I can’t bring myself to even start working on my homework. Because just thinking about it makes me cry. Like ugly cry. Like I can’t breathe cry. Like a pain in my heart so tangible my chest feels like it’s about cave in cry. Like I’m 2 years old again, and the world is completely overwhelming.
But part of adulting is also knowing that it’s not okay to throw yourself on the floor, or if you do, it’s not okay to leave yourself there. Back to the reason for my homework. And my crying. You see, my homework is to write a goodbye letter. To my partner. Whom I love. My partner of 6 years and 6 months, who after making an international move to be here with me, can’t decide if they want to stay. With me, with our life, in our house, in this relationship. With me.
Hence the ugly crying.
I feel robbed. I have had other partnerships, serious ones, and other loves, serious ones, but for me, this one was THE ONE. Not only that, I worked really fucking hard to get here. I was molested as a child of 5 years old by a stranger. I was raped almost exactly 23 years ago by my boyfriend at the time, after a night out celebrating my 18th birthday. I was a virgin, I was drinking, and then I was raped. I suffered with chronic clinical depression and anxiety since then, and spent about 4 or 5 years in and out of therapy while trying to finish university, both undergraduate and post-graduate studies. I had to learn how to let someone into my physical space (I still really don’t like to be touched without permission by ANYONE). I made some bad choices. I made some good ones too, but I was not very good at self-care, not very good at eating, not very good at sleeping, but mostly, not very good at trusting and opening myself and being vulnerable.
These are also all important parts of adulting, and important parts of being a human, even though the lessons learned are hard-fought, and victory feels like loss.
I made some more bad choices. I allowed myself to become ensnared by an absolutely charming manipulator who turned out to be abusive, who stole money from me, and who threatened to blackmail me. Mental and verbal abuse, and threats of physical abuse, but no actual strikes. It took me as long to get out of that co-dependent cluster fuck as I had been in it. I went through a severe, almost psychotic break, where I would lose time, hours of my day or days of my week, and not know how I had come to be somewhere or why I was even there. I self mutilated. I cut. I contemplated suicide. Seriously.
But between all of this, I got those three degrees. Several different jobs. Accolades, offers, and differing levels of surprise when I said no to opportunities that many would have jumped on. I have a genius level IQ. I am well spoken, I’m a good communicator, and I’m a leader. I am also someone who with the help of good friends, family, some crisis counselling and meds, was able to climb out of the blackest black hole in the universe. I got better, I quit my job, I changed my life, and I started taking more responsibility for my part in partnerships. Being mindful, intentional, honest and open. I reclaimed my body with tattoos. I learned how to put on a very good front so people wouldn’t know how much self-confidence I lacked. I tried to be less defensive and more reflective. I made myself eat and sleep and go outside.
And when I had wriggled out of the shroud of things that were not me and stepped into the light that was me, I met my partner. And not to skip over the good bits, but lately, it has not been so good. Which brought us to therapy. Which brings me to my homework. A goodbye letter to the person who may be the only person to have ever seen the whole of the real me, and man, does it fucking suck when that person doesn’t want to see the real you anymore.
So I wonder if, before I say goodbye to them, if I should also say hello to me. A 41-year-old woman who thought that it was a good idea to go back to school and become a student again so that she could finally get those three letters P.H.D behind her name, who is facing months of broke ramen noodle nights, feels un-loved and un-pretty and not enough, and who, by society’s standards, should consider themselves old-ish. And while I’m not worried about ever going back to the aforementioned blackest black hole in the universe, because, as you know, one does not simply walk out of Mordor, if you make it out, you never go back.
I’m worried about going nowhere. Not knowing how to start. Not knowing how to not want someone. Not knowing how to not feel lost, alone, and not worth much.
So I’m calling on my community. I’m calling on women. I’m calling on you. I want you to take one, and raise one. I want you to take one compliment. Fully. Accept it. Internalize it. Believe it. The author of this blog did that for me a few days ago. She (unexpectedly) complimented me in a very quiet and sincere way. I have thought about it for days. That’s the first part.
The second part is raise one. Raise another person, another woman. Do this by doing the same as was done for me – compliment them. Raise them by helping. Feed them. Visit them. Make them feel important. Life can be murky and messy, and even if you have it all figured out, even then we still need others to sometimes help us to our place in the sun.
Take one. Raise one. And Happy Birthday to me.
“She has fought many wars, most internal. The ones that you battle alone, for this, she is remarkable. She is a survivor.”
― Nikki Rowe