Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Losing Me, Finding Me

I was going to shut this blog down for good a few weeks ago.

I realized that the readership I once had doesn't seem as enthusiastic about reading my blog posts. When I first started this blog, I would get comments and messages saying that my words resonated with people. People would share their innermost thoughts and feelings with me, telling me they felt understood, and in those moments I realized that my words had the power to heal. But they don't seem to have the same effect these days.

I've written about happiness, love, feminism, racism, my students - anything I have been passionate about. And I often share with the understanding that I am taking a risk by saying too much, giving too much away, just BEING TOO MUCH. There have been times that I've sobbed while writing and times when I've felt triumphant and even other-worldly, as if someone were writing through me.

Not so much lately.

I've been struggling with pretty much everything in my life. Nothing has been easy in the past year since I uprooted myself from a stable job and a place where I was accepted and loved as is, and came to this new place where no one knows me and no one seems to care how "amazing" I used to be. I am in a place where authenticity is not something to be achieved, because it is not understood as a concept. As much I am used to change and growth, I am in a place where people "are who they are" and I should not "expect them to change." It's like hitting brick walls and expecting them to bounce back. There's no other way to describe my experience so far. As a result, I have been expending energy becoming defensive, protected, and guarded in every relationship. I have become everything I've worked so hard to let go of, everything I told the young women in my life not to be. I let life beat me.

I know this because last week I was talking with one of the young professionals I supervise, and as I was looking for a way to resolve a problem, I decided that taking myself out of it would demonstrate that my ego was not as important as helping the team to run well. She said something to the effect of, "You are saying you are being humble in this instance, but you really sound defeated." Finally, someone truly understood my experience as of late, and I could feel the entire universe releasing a long-held, pent-up breath. My spirit told me, "You've lost who you really are."

Two weeks ago, I met a man with whom I'd been corresponding through a dating site and phone conversations. It wasn't easy at first, as he continues to remind me. "Remember when you wouldn't return my texts for four hours? When you would tell me specific times to call you and you wouldn't pick up?" What he knew, without me saying it, was that in those initial calls or texts, I was finding reasons not to engage. I didn't want to try - I had tried before, and it didn't work out. I had tried, and gotten so unbelievably hurt and betrayed that, even though I wanted to try again, I didn't want to try again. I got super defensive and refused to acknowledge those texts and calls. Then we had a snow day, and he called while I was doing nothing. I just picked up because, in that moment, I had no reason not to. The first words out of his mouth were, "Let me ask you this: Do you WANT a relationship?" He proceeded to tell me exactly how he felt about my antics, and somehow, rather than hang up on him for being so aggressive, I listened. And we talked. And somehow, two hours had gone by. Two hours of my precious time, that is usually planned. I plan phone conversations, okay? And at the end of those two hours, we got off the phone much in the same way teenagers do. "I'm really going to say goodbye now, okay? I'm really going to hang up." As I hung up, I breathed a sigh of surprise and relief, the universe sighing and smiling with me.

I talked to him again later that night after having cleaned my car off and getting back upstairs feeling a little sore. He told me to run a hot bath, get some candles and a glass of wine, and to just relax. I did it simply because he told me to, and I was so relaxed that I slept like a baby and felt as if I had given something to myself that I had not in such a long time: the gift of self-care. I don't know why I had not ever thought to pamper myself in that way. Yes, the bath was relaxing, but I left that experience with more than loosened muscles; I left feeling valued and appreciated by ME.

Photo Credit: M. Gerade
In the past two short weeks, this man has somehow reminded me that being spontaneous is a good thing, that everything doesn't have to be planned, that any time we are able to, we should make the time to see each other, and no matter what we do or for how little time it may be, there is value in those moments. He frequently remarks that he likes me - the "conservative" me that he first met through online photos, our first conversations, our first date - and the me who has opened up and accepted to go on this adventure with him. He believes that I have grown in such a short amount of time, but what he doesn't know is that who he sees now is really me. Being guarded and evasive was my defense mechanism, but he knocked that wall down as soon as possible to get to who I really am, a loving, compassionate, funny person who is willing to stop planning and start living. Again.

I have found me again. And this is why I write this right now, regardless of who reads. Because this is a part of who I really am. I am creative. I am expressive. I am, sometimes, too much. And I love it. I love ME.