To Meredith, on Her 35th Birthday
Today, I turn 35.
“A spring chicken!” “You have light years ahead of you!” (Please, do keep THOSE comments coming).
In my last post, I outlined some darkness that’s been pinging around in my head. I don’t know if it’s had anything to do with the birthday. I don’t really think so. I never thought of myself as someone who gave two craps about getting older. And I don’t feel that way now. So I think birthday and darkness–totes unrelated.
What is funny, though, is when I write something “sad” or not “on par” with making everyone full of sunshine and rainbows, something that reads more like “just keep drinking wine and laying in bed with covers over head” versus “just keep moving forward” …I receive (usually) one of two responses.
The first response is: “Been there, sistah. I feel you. I am human too, and I understand.”
The next set of responses are: “You are ungrateful and don’t know what you have.”
I think the second response is hilarious for a few reasons.
Being in this uniquely situated role as ole “Swim Bike Mom,” I see (read) a lot of interesting things. And I also know that–when someone lays their feelings on the line–when someone is vulnerable and open–that the last helpful thing in the universe is to be told that those feelings are wrong, crude or worthless. When someone is struggling with their very worth, you don’t tell them, “You are ________.”
For the record, that’s not a nice thing to do. I mean, really, to tell someone that a place of darkness is unwarranted, unnecessary or a figment of imagination… and we wonder why mental illness and depression and tragedy abounds in society… really?
[^^^Just thought I’d interject a picture of this amazing homemade Chicken Soup. Carry on.]
Anyway… why can’t we say how we feel? Why is it judged? We can’t reach out and say, “Hey guess what? I’m in a sad place. And I could use a hug or a cookie or a few shots of tequila, hold the lime…” We aren’t “allowed” to be in places of sadness, without judgment and with lots of hugs? Why the hell not? Because it makes other people uncomfortable? What kind of world is that?
Granted, for the 99% of my “I’m breaking down posts,” I feel nothing but supported and loved.
But the other 1% of comments or emails, I am left scratching my head… I am left thinking, Wow, if someone cares enough to write this to a stranger/blogger, what do these people actually say to their struggling family members…
And believe me, I have always struggled with the “honest” posts…
Hitting “publish” on some of them is tough, believe it or not.
…Though at dinner with girlfriends and the Expert on Saturday for my birthday, I said something like, “Well, I have ooodles of Facebook friends, but I don’t write anything personal anyway, so I don’t think it matters who sees what” – and literally, all four of them burst out laughing. Yoda said, “If you don’t write anything personal…” and the Expert wailed, “… then what ARE you hiding,” and Sweet Red laughed a little too loud at that comment, and Mountain Goat spit out her veggies, and then I laughed…
Well, okay. Touche.
I just write things that are hard because maybe, just maybe, someone else will benefit from the insanity in my head. That all my fears and sadnesses and craziness will matter just to let someone else know they aren’t alone. That’s why I do it.
So yes, my birthday. (I always digress. I’m sure that’s a sign of crazy too.)
For a present to myself, this morning, I woke up in the freezing cold (literally, 25 degrees!) and went for a run. I went for a run because I am struggling and I am in a rut and dammit, I needed to freeze this shit out. Or something. The demons had to run out and I had to cry or something.
So today, on my birthday, I ran in the cold. I didn’t cry for fear of icicles. But it was a really chilly 4 miles. Not fast. Not anything remarkable, but it was what I wanted to do on my birthday morning.
And then I got home, took a hot shower, and before I started to work, I took 15 minutes and I wrote a little birthday letter to myself, today at 35. As weird and self-serving as it may seem. Aw, hell – it’s my birthday. Give me a crazy break.
So I typed up a letter to myself: To Meredith, on Her 35th Birthday.
I wrote it. I read it. And then it felt weird to write a letter to myself, and then I thought, “Well, really now you really are crazy.”
So instead of publishing the Dear Meredith/Crazy version, I am writing the letter to YOU.
I hope that YOU, my dear blog reading friend, will read this letter to YOU. Because it’s one of those reminders that I think we can all use sometimes. And I mean every word of it. About me. About you. About this community. We matter. We have a purpose.
For all the uplifting you do for ME. Thank you. I love you guys. Thanks for being a part of my journey.
+ + +
[Ah-hem… ^^^ this is where you insert your name in case you were wondering]
Did you know that today you are alive? No matter what negative thoughts or things that are happening, you are here? You are alive. And do you know what an amazing body you have? I mean, look at it. It works. It breathes. That heart beats. That brain thinks. And it makes your body run and cycle and swim, no matter how slow or painful or ugly. You work. Your body works.
No matter what the scale says. No matter how those pants fit… even if you are sick and in pain and a ball on the floor of depression, as long as you are breathing, you are still here… you are still working, even if you feel like you aren’t. And you matter. You are somebody. You exist. Don’t take that for granted.
Do you also know that someone, somewhere, right now thinks you are amazing. A-maz-ing. Somebody does. And they may not tell you, but somebody does. Breathe that in and accept it. Because it’s true.
Do you know that today is the first day… of the rest of your life? Lyrics from an amazing Thriving Ivory song. But think about it. Every day is new. The first day of the next part. Every second is another chance. Don’t waste it.
You have a purpose.
Finally, all that silence, the pain, the sadness and the darkness?
Those terrible dark things in your heart and head? They pass too. Darkness before dawn. All those quotes… that you can see the stars only because the night is black. The fears and anxiety and things that make life “too much” —they will pass too. You are not alone. You are not ungrateful. You are not crazy. You are human.
And one of the most amazing human conditions is not only the ability to love—but also the ability to feel deep emotions—ALL kinds of emotions.
The recognition that emotions are not only happy things is important.
Emotions include the darkness… the sadness, grief, fear, heartbreak and anxiety. These are things to feel too. These are emotions. These are real. Don’t be ashamed. You are not alone.
Today, on your birthday [or non-birthday], you are not alone. You are alive. You are here. You have a purpose. You are amazing.