This most personal blog post I’ve ever written.
I have written this in my head a million times. I have tried to write it on paper even more. Every word I have written has been deleted at least once and sometimes the words I feel just won’t come out. I have felt paralyzed by fear. I have been afraid to hurt other people’s feelings by revealing who I am and what has made me, me. It wasn’t until last week, when I was at the Inspire Photo Retreat in Portland, Maine, that I learned an incredibly freeing lesson from Anne Almasy:
"The things we fear will disconnect us are actually the things that connect us."
In a relentless journey to embrace my authentic self and to help foster a better world to live in, I am putting my truth out there. So here goes:
I was born into a loving family, to a mother who desperately prayed for me and wanted me in her life more than words will ever be able to describe. Unfortunately, she was in an abusive marriage with a man who didn’t value her. My mom also didn’t value herself. She jumped head first into a relationship she thought would fulfill her dreams. She married a marine who she thought would provide her with a beautiful family and allow her the chance to see the world. She was 20 when I was born.
Alcohol, physical and emotional abuse took that dream away. When I was 3 years old, we were stationed at a military base in Japan. My biological father was having an affair with a married woman. He wanted a divorce. It was time for us to leave. It was just a few days before Christmas. My mom was 23 with two toddlers, no job, a high school education, and no place to go. We landed in the US and my mom found an apartment for us to start over in. As tough as it may seem, this was the best Christmas of my life.
In my memory, we had nothing. Our new home was a large, dark, and nearly empty house with a scary monster tree casting evil shadows into my room. It had no chimney for Santa to come down. But inside this house was also a small light, a glimmer of hope still burning in my mom’s heart. A hope for a better life for us. My mom taught me the most valuable lesson of my life that Christmas.
Just because things don’t go according to your plan, it doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be different. Live your life with a positive attitude and focus on the good that you do have in your life. We had our health, we had each other, we had a package of hotdogs and the "Little Mermaid." We were going to be ok, and we were.
However, some days I struggle to find the positive message that the universe is trying to show me. I feel paralyzed by what I assume other’s think of me.
Here’s what I think other’s think of me:
Here’s what they don’t know:
I don’t always smile. My smile is my greatest asset, but it is also at the same time my biggest weakness. I hide behind it and use it as my security blanket to protect myself. I smile when I am hurt. I smile when I am sad. I smile when I am overwhelmed, insecure and afraid. I smile when I am happy, when others smile, and when I can’t think of anything else to do.
I am truly happy. What I have is enough for me, and you’re right, I couldn’t do this without my husband. However, life hasn’t been and isn’t always easy for me. It has taken years of hard work, struggle, risk, loss, pain, doubt, and working through fear to get here. Life has never been and will never be handed to me on a silver spoon—and I don’t want it to be.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” After nearly falling off the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and being hit by a cab in Boston last year, I have learned from my near death experiences to cherish every moment of my life. I have witnessed friends be diagnosed with horrible illnesses at young ages, and have even seen friends die far too soon. My goal is to live everyday to be a better person and to help others embrace the beauty of all that life has to offer, no matter how long that life is.
I do have a shit ton of friends. I love people. I love meeting people, connecting with people, and helping people. However, with “a million friends” it’s hard to maintain meaningful relationships. I am working hard at finding a balance where I can foster more genuine relationships with “my people,” you know those people who are there for you no matter what and those to whom you would be there for no matter what.
Dunbar’s Theory states that humans reach a cognitive limit on the number of people with whom they can successfully maintain a stable and meaningful relationship. That number is 150. I think my life will feel fuller when I focus on finding and embracing my 150. It’s on my to-do list (thanks Anne!)
My inner light from my soul is infectious. It’s true. I see it in the way that people look at me. I hear it from those that I surround myself with. I feel it when I connect with people. Helping those around me fuels my inner light. Right now, my biggest challenge is accepting the light I receive from others when I give to them and see them get happy. Sometimes, I feel guilty for the feelings I receive back, like it’s something I am selfishly doing so that I can feel better about myself. I need to work on accepting and realizing that this is the “give and the take” that makes the world go round.
I have a bigger purpose out there right now and I am so looking forward to my journey of overcoming my fears of putting myself out there and being more real. Through she., I have read countless stories from individual ladies sharing their reality, their truth. It gives me inspiration, hope and strength to continue to feverishly work to make the world a better place.
So there it is. I have so much more to share, and maybe one day will!