I recently caught up with a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. During our conversation, they asked how I’ve been doing. “Good,” I replied, which was followed by “not great?” from my friend. I paused and thought for a moment before I responded, “I guess I could say great, but I don’t because I am still on the road to what I deem my personal greatness.” My friend acknowledged this statement and our conversation carried on after that.
Thinking about this the next day, I realized a more appropriate response would have been “I’m happy,” because I am. I still have much I am striving for and working towards, but overall, I am actually okay with the space I am in now. I am sure to remind myself to embrace and appreciate this feeling, because it took a long time and a lot of work to get here.
My life since turning 30 has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been married, divorced, became a single mother (I try to use “co-parent” more often), was laid off due to downsizing, then re-hired in a new position a few weeks later, survived a house fire, laid both of my grandmothers and two dear cousins to rest, had love, lost love and most recently was in a car accident that kept me out of work for two months. There’s more, but I think you get the idea. I don’t list these things to complain or compare my life challenges to anyone else’s. It’s more about reflecting on the valleys I’ve endured and how I’ve managed, and continue to manage, to stay positive and not lose sight of finding what I call “my free.”
This is not to say that every day has been a good one. I’ve definitely had my moments of staying in the bed all day with the covers over my head, or having to work through anger while simultaneously making more of an effort to focus on forgiveness. I have also had some help along the way. About a year after my divorce, I started meeting with a therapist in order to better understand my self, my choices and what some of the root causes of my personal struggles were. I always say my therapist is the best relationship I’ve ever had. I’ve been working with her for two and a half years now, and unless she kicks me out of the nest, I don’t have any intention of discontinuing my future appointments. I have friends who wonder how I can be so transparent with something that most people are very private about. It’s not that privacy necessarily equals shame, but for me, I have never been ashamed of the fact that I do see a therapist. In fact, those who are closest to me even know her by name. The reality, though, is that there is a stigma associated with therapy and other methods for supporting mental health. This is where my transparency comes in. My hope is that others, especially those who may be struggling with something internally, will see that therapy is actually pretty harmless and quite helpful. I’ve always said it’s like my personal GPS. When I feel I’m getting off course, I take 45 minutes out of my week to solely focus on redirecting myself in a positive way.
Looking back on some of my first appointments with my therapist, I remember telling her that I wanted to find peace within myself and be happy. Over the course of these 2.5 years with her, I’ve had walls broken down, plenty of “aha” moments and learned to understand the power of my love. I’ve expressed to her my desire to remarry and hopefully have more children by time I reach my “scary age,” if not before. When I started seeing my therapist, I was 32 and the scary age was 35. Well, as it turns out, I will be 35 in less than two short weeks and I am nowhere near being remarried or having another child. I’ve already gone ahead and pushed the scary age back, but what is important about this, is that I am okay with it. When I got married the first time, I can admit there was self-imposed pressure of turning 30 and wanting to be sure “marriage” was something I checked off my to-do list. I don’t regret it, for without the marriage I wouldn’t have my son, but I did learn the most valuable lesson of patience. So while there is still a desire for companionship in my life, I am able to keep it in check and focus on the other areas of my life that are also in need of nurturing; mainly, my continuous work towards my free.
When I recognized my response to the question of how I’m doing should have been “I’m happy,” I knew this was another big “aha” moment for me. I realize I am finding the peace within myself I have been searching for. There is still much more I want to attain, but personally, it is a major accomplishment for me to be happy in a space that is not exactly the space I thought I’d be in at this stage in my life. In his book, “The Alchemist,” Paulo Coelho says that when you set your heart on something, all the Universe conspires to help you receive it. I knew I’d want to write a blog about the experience of finding my happy and sure enough, as I was checking my Twitter feed the other day, did I see another quote from Coelho that said: “The path to wisdom is to be yourself. Stop ‘seeking.’” I was immediately able to wrap my arms around this and felt it tied in perfectly with what I wanted to write. I know I am on the road to happy because I am learning to look within myself more. I am learning to trust myself more. Everything I need, every answer to the questions I have, every desire I seek, is rooted within me. As Coelho implies, for each of us, the answers to what we are looking for are within our individual selves.
A few nights ago, I was talking with my mother and she expressed her desire to see me have the relationship and family I’ve always said I wanted. Normally, I would have had a defensive response to this, not because of what she said, but because deep down, it would kick up a feeling of frustration over something I have no control over. Now I am learning to understand how to coexist with the unknown. So I was able to calmly say, “I know Mommy, but I’m really okay with where I am now. I’ve got a lot on my plate to focus on and I think the Universe wants to see me accomplish those things before I get into another serious relationship.” Not that I am being unreceptive to love; I am just okay with letting it find me in its own way. In the meantime, it’s like the song says, if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with. Right now, I’m pretty happy loving and being with me.
I wish you peace and happiness on your journey. And may you never stop searching for your free.