Lessons from 37

I just celebrated my 38th birthday a few days ago and I always like to do a sort of year in review. I find that reflecting on the past year helps me set my intentions for the new year. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Respect the seasons  – We all want our ideas and projects to blossom. I’ve had to learn how to fully respect and appreciate the planting stage and the patience stage while waiting for the seeds I’ve planted to bloom. Sometimes it feels like I’m not “doing anything” and instead of sitting back comfortably and allowing for rest knowing I’ve been planting  seeds, I fill up with restlessness and anxiety. It doesn’t serve me and I’ll be doing my best to cut it out.
  • Empathetic and selfish –   I’m very empathetic and can almost always see and understand someone else’s point of view and extend grace. However when someone’s actions directly effect me, that grace is a little harder to extend. This year I’m making it a point to not let my self absorption stand in the way of being able to empathize fully. In other words, it ain’t always about me.
  • Importance of being one with what is – One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “It is what it is” and while I know that, sometimes I still let whatever it is bother me. I’m still resistant to it which is a complete waste of energy. I’m letting go of the idea of acceptance is a form of weakness. It doesn’t make me any stronger to fight against something that is already happening.
  • Giving no fucks – One of the best parts of getting older for me is placing less value on others perceptions of who I am. I feel 100% confident in who I am and that allows for a certain freedom. This past year I felt like I truly stepped into that freedom.
  • Understanding the value of a life partner – The combination of my independent nature and the residual feelings from a failed marriage caused me to downplay the importance of a significant other. I’m used to carrying my own weight, so to speak and have felt what it’s like to put your complete trust into another person you have formed a supposed lifelong union with only to be betrayed. I love love and give of it freely but when it comes to romantic relationships I’ve minimized the impact of just how valuable it is to have a  loving and supportive partner. My life has been enhanced and acknowledging that doesn’t make me any less independent, free spirited or self-sufficient.

Texturizer

This was one of those pivotal moments I thought only happened in books or movies. An exact moment in time where you can pinpoint when something changed, when you knew that you would never look at things the same way.  When I opened up that cabinet under the sink and saw boxes and boxes of S Curl texturizer my emotions went from my mouth hanging open in shock to hysterical laughter to tears . I knew then that I had been looking at things through the wrong lens and while it was initially jarring, this experience provided me with a teachable moment that has served me well as I moved forward through life. Let me walk it back…..

A few weeks earlier I had received a phone call from an unknown number that had called several times  in a row before I finally picked up. An unfamiliar voice informed me that my husband was having an affair with a woman at his job,taking trips with her and bringing our 3-year-old daughter to her house. Apparently the woman calling worked there too and knew of me and felt it was her moral obligation to call me and let me know. I still think it was the woman he was seeing using a fake accent or one of her friends but I’ll never know and it really doesn’t matter. I’m skipping over a ton here but the end result was me filing for divorce. He had gotten his own “bachelor pad” and I was cleaning out any remnants that he left behind. Lucky for me the texturizer discovery came before the worst of the discoveries and believe me it got worse than a fake ass s-curl. We had had conversations in the past in which he proudly proclaimed that he had a “good grain” of hair and chuckled about it. His hair didn’t matter to me at all or have any factor in me deciding to marry him but it was something he was very proud of.

As I sat there in shock, surrounded by empty boxes of Duke and Lusters, in disbelief that this man had been lying about something so inconsequential as his hair texture it hit me that none of this was about me. Before the texturizer discovery I had been looking at this the whole situation through the lens of my ego. ” How could he do this to me? , How could this happen to me?, What did I do to deserve this?, How could not have seen this coming, Why didn’t I ever check under his side of the sink before?” In that moment, I realized just how many prior red flags I had ignored and realized that this was who he’d always been. It was never about me. This whole thing really had nothing to do with me.  That’s when the uncontrollable laughter began. I was struck by the hilarity of it all…. there was no way I was gonna let a dude who was secretly chemically altering his hair make me question myself anymore. Then the tears began because it wasn’t just about me. We had a daughter together and although things had come into focus for me, she was a little girl who loved her daddy and I was sad about the fact that everything was changing for her in ways she was too young to fully understand.

I threw out the empty boxes and got on with the planning of this new altered vision for my life with a new understanding. When subsequent discoveries came, much more troubling than texturizer, I was able to navigate with a clearer head. In no way am I saying that I never again felt pain, anger , sadness or even disbelief but I had stopped relating everything back to me. Honestly, I had little time to consider the why’s or how’s, and even less time to attend the pity party. I had a mortgage that was going unpaid, a daughter in private school, a divorce attorney charging billable hours and one income. The texturizer moment allowed me to separate myself from what was happening to me. I stopped taking things so personally and was able to move forward in a matter of fact way. I’d be lying if I said I never again took anything personally from that point forward but there was a major change in perspective from the time I sat surrounded by empty boxes of texturizer laughing and crying like a crazy person.