The One With the unBroken Girl.
One year ago today was supposed to be the start of The One.
The one with the quintessential milestone birthday to herald me into quasi-official middle age. The one with an adjustment to a half empty nest and me pretending that I now had more hours in my days and a couple extra days in my weeks. This was the one with everything going for it and for me.
This last year was supposed to be the one with me finally becoming the “got her game together” me.
Instead, it was the one with the broken girl.
I never used to be prone to tears. But this past year was the one with so many tears, the ones at the wrong times and the ones that wouldn’t stop.
I never used to be at a loss for words. But this past year was the one with a lot of silence.
I never used to be hesitant to look at the world through the lens of a camera. But this past year was the one with very few photographs and a lot of watching.
I never used to be angry all the time. But this past year was the one with a lot of anger.
The simple answer for all this was that this year was the one with the grief.
Grief has this way of lurking around at the edges and making itself comfortable in your life. The more you try to exorcize it from your life the worse it gets. Things stop working. No matter what you do – No matter what I did…I was just this middle aged woman who couldn’t stop crying, who couldn’t find any words, who couldn’t take a picture with her mind, let alone with her camera, who was angry all the time.
It occurred to me that I was broken. It felt like parts of me weren’t working. The woman looking back at me from within the mirror…well, she looked like she needed to be fixed.
So I spent most of the year trying to stop crying, trying to find words, trying to force myself to take a picture, trying not to be angry. I spent a lot of time trying to fix all the things I thought were broken.
And then, somewhere between 45 and 46; somewhere between death number 5 and 6 for the year; somewhere between this incredibly long winter I had been seemingly trapped in and the fall I realized that I wasn’t a mechanic and that I didn’t need to be repaired. To know me is to know that there is priceless irony in the fact that with all the energy and exasperation I spent trying to find my problems and fix everything that could possibly be wrong with me I never checked to make sure I was plugged in. Once I plugged into my life, my world, and my grief I realized that I wasn’t broken and I didn’t require fixing…I don’t know why it took me so long, I’ve never thought anyone else was broken or needed fixing.
Once I stopped trying to leave my grief behind and let it leave on its own terms my tears seemed less inclined to fall.
Once I stopped trying to deal with my grief and I let it deal with me I had more time to speak and words seemed to be easier to find.
Once I stopped trying to hide from my grief and I let it find me I saw more memories I wanted to capture.
Once I stopped trying to control my grief it stopped trying to control me and I began to feel more and better things than anger.
Once I stopped thinking that I was broken I got back to the pursuit of being me.
It didn’t happen all at once and it didn’t happen on my own. There was my mom’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge sauce, there were babies, children, kittens and sheep from nearby and faraway, there were new people in my life, people who had always been there, a few who stepped away and a few who stepped in. The ones who looked to me for a lifeline actually provided me with one of my own. I put more miles behind me than ever before and I found myself even closer to where I started and even further ahead.
I finally realized that someone may not get me and it’s not their fault, but it’s their loss. I also realized that I may not get what someone else is putting out there and it’s not my fault, but it is my loss.
And that’s the thing…we all have losses. Some more than others, others more than some. It isn’t about how much you lose, or who loses you; it’s not about being broken and getting fixed. It’s about not being empty, no matter who and what you lose. It’s about being ready to be you, no matter what decade you’re in. It’s about being a part of a village, no matter who or where they are and it’s about being as grateful that they are a part of your world as you are to be a part of theirs.
So, Happy Birthday to me. This past year may have been a long one, and it was a hard one, but it turns out that it was the one with the unbroken girl.