The last two years have taught me more about myself than I could have ever predicted.
It was two years ago around this time that I made the decision that what I wanted for my life was not what was happening. That the person I thought I loved and myself were bringing out the worse in each other. I had internally admitted my failures and had come to terms with the notion that the goal for my life was not achieved, and the goal I once had would not be possible: To be the married wife to my best friend and build our family, growing together as one. My actions must have made this decision visible as a couple short weeks later my ex-husband sat on the edge of our bed and asked me if I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. I answered to confirm his question with a simple and direct “No, I’m sorry but I don’t.”
Verbalizing this defeat did not come with a cleansing of stress or a feeling of freedom, because I knew what was ahead. I would have to rebuild from the ground up.
I’ve said before that if I had known what would go on the next two years, that would have changed a lot, but it is often better that we not know what lie ahead for us, so that we can go forward in our conquest for betterment regardless of the breakdown that might happen before we get there.
If you know me, you know I used to wear my emotions on my sleeve. I would feel it and share it and encourage you to do the same.
In the last two years, that is no longer who I am.
I am strong, though guarded, distant and opposed to what makes me feel vulnerable. Do you know that I used to cry every single day? And one day, I realized I hadn’t cried in months. I became numb. I wouldn’t feel and if i did it would hurt so badly that I’d button myself right back up again.
I found myself praying and chanting to myself that “I never want to feel like that again. I don’t want to feel like this.” I would tell people that I wanted a life where I didn’t ever have to feel that way.
Those closest to me tell me how hard I am on myself so often that you might think I would have thought to listen by now. But I haven’t. I constantly check myself, several times a day, to make sure that I’m being the person I want to be.
I turned into an emotional control freak. I would avoid situations that would trigger emotion, like mature relationships, conversations, friendships, even a text back. (To all my friends, I’m so sorry and thank you for the multiple check-ins <3) I couldn’t get myself to let go of the order I had finally maintained.
I poured myself into my work, into trying to build a two-adult life for my children with just one adult, and attempted to maintain friendships and even try to build a couple romantic ones. And while I’ve gotten better at mostly everything in my life, please understand that none of it really worked. It’s all been a series of coping mechanisms that I’ve pursued while I’ve put myself and my life back together.
Today, I turn 30.
I’m so not disappointed. Ever since I can remember being younger, I’ve always looked forward to this point in my life. I love getting older, and though I don’t love some of the things that go with it (wrinkles and a lame dating scene), I could NOT be more blessed with what has unfolded without my influence or control.
Today, I walked in to my first school with the white board decorate with “Happy Birthday Mrs. Schernikau!” kids singing, and ended class with the most reserved student bringing me a sign that said “World’s BEST spanish teacher” and a coffee gift card. I went to my next school and come around the corner with the door to the room decorated with balloons, got sprayed with silly string, then entered the room to see a TRES LECHES cake with a sign saying “29 again” and we played a game with questions about me. Kids in the hall telling me Happy Birthday, and dedicated facebook posts from all of my closest friends.
So the thing here is this:
You don’t get to choose the people you have an impact on. You don’t get to choose where your life is going, per say, but rather you get to choose what you are going to do with the ingredients that you have in front of you. You’re given choices and some of them are really hard to make. Some of them don’t have great options to choose between. And some of them are easier. The difficult ones, though, are usually the ones you grow from.
What’s most important, though, is that if I would have chosen the life I “wanted” I would have missed getting sprayed with silly string and seeing the price tag for the tiny tres leches cake my student bought for me, and realizing that as a human being she chose me to spend her time and money on. These kids might forget me, but they might not. And this moment might be one that they never forget.. it’s definitely one that I never will. So when we think about things bigger than ourselves, we can really try to see things for what they are.
Be glad that you don’t get to choose.
As hard as it is to do, have faith in where you are. Life will bring you exactly what you need to get you where you are meant to go.
To the people who have not done right by me- thank you.
To the friends who check in on me, you are the greatest human beings on the earth.
To the people who get to know my feelings and my secrets and hear about it all, life would be meaningless without you. Know you are so special.
HERE’S TO THIRTY.