I look around; puzzled. How, in the last year, did we get here? How did I get here. It’s not real. Maybe that’s the theme of this year’s birthday reflection post: the unreal. No, that’s not it. In thinking about the 365 days of being twenty-five years old, my instinctual reaction is to cringe. This year this post comes from underneath a tree in the small distance from the foot of my grandmothers grave. There: a piece of the unreal I was referring to. On my 25th birthday I spent part of my day with my grandma. I remember clear as day how I had sprung it upon her. If you knew her, you know she needed her time to get ready and situated. For some reason I pushed, refusing to get off the phone until she said she would see me. I now feel no guilt for the persistence that day. I read the card she gave me a year ago over so many times I could recite it. For the rest of my life I will grow older and she will stay the same age. Unfathomable loss has no road map to maneuver our way though, but I sure as hell know I’ve been off the grid. Though I feel lost, somehow being close to her guides me right back, but damn is it fleeting. Unreal.
To be honest, I never thought a birthday reflection would include such downfall and wreckage ever again. I believed with all my heart that the goodness & forward movement was here to stay. To see my life where it’s at now wouldn’t be on my radar of guesses and predictions. However, I’m learning that it’s okay. It’s a process, yeah?
Here’s the most important piece of my 25th year and moving into the 26th. Turning twenty six was not a right. It was not handed to me. For months I actually fought against making it happen. To be turning twenty six is a privilege & an honor. In recent months I finally started to fight again. Fight for my life, my health, myself in general. I hadn’t done that for half of these last 365 days. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d be saying I had given up. Though, as I’ve stated before trauma changes us. It devastates us and brings us to our knees all while making us do everything imaginable to avoid feeling what’s underneath all the hurt. When I say I gave up, it was in MRB fashion. My giving up is self destruction, shutting down, avoidance, but I don’t ever quite have it in me to entirely throw in the towel. Yet to be here now is something I earned. I fought to turn twenty six, it was never a guarantee.
During this last year I became my own advocate. I stood up for myself and demanded justice & for my voice to be heard. Unfortunately more often than not I was let down and disappointed. I opened my heart entirely to love and let that love come right in. I walked away when I knew the love that was meant for me was far greater than what I had in front of me. I reminded myself of my own worth. I lost sight of it at times, accepted far less than I knew I deserved, and even defended it as fact to convince myself. I’m more than glad to say that now in the present, nobody subpar to what I know is meant for me is in my current life.
This year broke me. When I look back on 25 I will always see the two major life altering events and those simply cannot be forgotten. With one I know in the distance I can look back, be grateful and speak fondly of the person; the other I will never fully accept and right now that’s okay. Though I say I spoke up in the last year, it was met only with people who attempted to stifle it. This year I felt inadequate. Not worthy. Looking back, rarely did those words come from me. They were spoken to and about me so much that I began to make a joke of myself before they got a chance to get a punchline out. Here is where I learned that I did not surround myself with the right people during the majority of my 25th year. It’s been a process to reconnect and regather myself with the right ones. I learned that we can continually do the right thing and that that doesn’t guarantee that the people around us will. I was horribly reminded that we all have free will and we cannot force someone’s hand a certain way with their own. I vow to make this year different.
It only took 25 trips around the sun for me to feel such a deep connection to my family. I know in times of tragedy typically one or the other happens. I’m thankful for the deeper connections formed during times of feeling lost and helpless. When I finally lost my strength, they without hesitation kept me moving. I believe that may be what we were meant to get out of all this. Grandma, I thank you for that. I thank you for being all you’ve been and I thank you for being the one person that truly saw my strength even in moments of weakness with you. But what I thank you most for is for you forcing me to finally rely on and confide in my family. I try to go through the tough stuff alone, but thanks to you that’s changed. When you get to know me is when you realize that there’s more to my confident exterior. But now, I let others see that from the start. You aided in softening up those jagged edges poking through on the outside, making me more approachable to others and I look up to your grave and I thank you more than you could ever have known.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone this last year. Here’s the fun paragraph, friends! I’ve made new friends with deep and real connections leading me to believe they’ll be around forever. I’ve gone to concerts of a lifetime. I’ve danced the night away like tomorrow would never come. Man, have I danced. I’ve danced to heal my soul. To stop the world around me and only feel the music flow through my veins and be the medicine I needed. I’ve spent more time with family making memories I’ll forever cherish. I’ve walked the streets in excitement of what’s to come. I’ve opened my life and my self to whatever opportunities present themselves. I refuse to shut myself off from the world again. This light within me, no matter how dim at the moment, deserves to shine. I am embracing the beauty that surrounds me in this life and whatever makes my soul feel fuller. It feels amazing. It’s time to build off of it.
Fresh starts. That’s what I am envisioning as I look into the year of 26. I earned this. And I will not allow it to slip away. Here’s to so much more in the next 365 days. Here’s to letting go of the goodbyes and beginning to thrive again. Here’s to the rebuild. Its okay to break when we thought we were rock solid. It’s even okay to allow ourselves to stay broken for little while. But we need to move on and we must keep going. That light truly never goes out. The darkness has an end & the light is somewhere. We just have to keep moving in order to reach it again.
Fresh starts. Twenty six years old and I am starting over almost entirely. How incredibly blessed I must be to be granted this rare opportunity to rediscover myself in such raw form. Blessed. Ah, there is my theme of the year. This year I have been abundantly blessed. To be able to say that in the same moment I am reflecting on such gut-wrenching pain gives me hope. & friends, it reminds me of all the magic that’s left in this world. I can see it, and I am blessed.