The last decade of my life has been difficult. That’s not to say it was all bad, because difficult isn’t always bad. Difficult can mean challenging, stretching, and enduring. These things can be great things for a person’s character. They were even in the muck of a enduring trial, good for me. No one explained to me that being an adult and becoming an adult were two very different things. There was this naive idea that I would just suddenly have the whole world figured out. That wasn’t the case, at all. I struggled to make sense of who I was, where I wanted to fit in this world, and how to make my life my own. As I welcome my 30’s, I’d like to say that I’ve figured all of that out now but the truth is, the betterment of self is a never ending process. I suspect I’ll be figuring myself out until the day I die, and I am okay with that.
In the last ten years, so much has happened:
I had my two children, those two beautiful, wonderful, goofy, quirky humans who make me want to live every moment of this life as best I can. Who taught me to be a mother, to love fully and unconditionally. They showed me the family I’ve always wanted. They’ve taught me patience. To laugh more, to read more. To talk so much more. I met my husband, a handsome stranger who I worked with, who declined me when I asked him on a date (because football), but made it up a couple days later when he showed me the “good parts” of The Day After Tomorrow. This man broke my walls, taught me what unconditional love feels like, has been my biggest fan, and sometimes, my worst enemy. He’s taught me the importance of a joke, of a smile, of believing the best in people. Together, we’ve built a home, a life, and this incredible family that I feel blessed to call my own.
I started writing about my adoption experience, which saw me through a promise for more openness, closing it and then miraculously having it reopen just months ago when I got to write to my son. I went from being the girl who sat on panels for the adoption agency she relinquished through to finally realizing that they were using me to hurt other families. I found my voice and I decided to use it to help others. I sought out others, just like me, not stopping when my natural reaction was anger. I learned that my anger was just a secondary reaction, and beyond it, there was so much brokenness that I needed to heal. I’ve read emails from people who’ve read my words, privileged to have people trust me with their stories, proud that what I write resonates with so many people. I’ve never stopped believing that this adoption could change, even when I was saying that it wouldn’t. I never stopped loving my son, in fact, I’ve only grown to love him more.
These years saw me through a crisis of faith, the act of losing the religion my parents raised me in, learning that I didn’t have to fall into it by default, and that leaving wasn’t a horrible thing. It made me walk into a bookstore and pick up the literature I was told to stay away from. It made me demand philosophical discussion from those who I trusted about believing. It saw me take the final step in my journey; Removing my name from a religion that had wreaked so much havoc in my life. I learned confidence and gained a love of the unknown through atheism, which also led me to other wonderful people who absolutely understood my journey.
I started therapy. I stopped therapy. I was diagnosed, re-diagnosed and then had the diagnosis redacted. I took a lot of pills. I saw many doctors, many therapists, and I whispered thoughts in small offices safely, hoping to finally heal all of the wounds from my childhood, and teenage years. I started to speak openly about my mental health, the impact it has on me, and relationships. I found solace and comfort from those who get it, and who live it. Most importantly, I realized I was absolutely not alone.
I learned to love people more, even though I still trust very few, I found my best friends, two woman that I cannot imagine my life without. I lost a best friend because sometimes people aren’t what you think. I lost a lot of friends because of my departure from Mormonism, and inability to stay quiet about it. I had friends fall away, but return, and I was always grateful for that. I watched my friends go through divorces, marriages,and deaths crying with them in their joy and happiness.I went through my own divorce, finally free from a decision I made in my late teens. I watched my husband and his family mourn the sudden loss of his Grandfather.
I found feminism. I found the power in other woman, in realizing that I am more than just my gender. That it’s okay for me to want things to be better for all of us, for my daughter. That we need more woman who will speak out about inequality. And I was happy to join the chorus of voices. I learned to feel pride in my skills, my writing, and to bravely ask people to listen to the things I had to say. I was published in a magazine twice. I’ve been featured on multiple websites.
I learned that family, sometimes, no matter how much you want them to be amazing, aren’t always. I walked away from my own several times during this decade, and only just realized the damage it was doing to me, and my family. It’s okay, I’ve learned, to walk away from toxicity. It’s okay to say that you deserve better.
Being an adult, I learned, is far more complicated than the one semester health course you are required to take in High School leads you to believe. When I look back on the last ten years, I see a collage of everything that has made me who I am today. It’s easy to pick out the bad stuff, the things I wish I’d thought twice about. Mostly though, I see a woman who carved out her own path, even if she stumbled or had to turn around a time or two.
I did good with those years, I think. I did really good.
The next ten will be even better.