35.

On the morning of my birthday, I walk alone. Previously, I’d call my mother and wish her a Happy Giving Birthday. But this year, just like last, I’m estranged from her. So, I walk alone. Which isn’t entirely true, either, because I always take a dog with me. I walk and I think and today I sat at the top of the rock quarry and watched the sun rise behind the trees and listened to the roosters crow below, and I talked to myself and I talked to my dog and I considered my aloneness and tried to wrap my head around who I am now.

When I was talking aloud, it felt familiar– like how it felt when I was a kid, alone and ever lonelier, speaking out loud at first to myself, and then learning that I was to be talking instead to God. It was drilled into me that this journey is my own, that I will stand before the Lord naked, alone, and likely trembling, having to account for all the ways I didn’t live up to his expectations. Aloneness was a virtue, alone along with never resting and decidedly refraining from wishy-washy bullshit like “finding yourself.” And I guess that’s the trick to keeping one in line. If you are told you’re alone, the company of a big mighty God is a big mighty comfort. And depending on who is creating that God for you, you can be pushed and pulled in whatever direction serves other people best. Maybe that’s the secret. Because anyone who gets to know themselves learns quickly that they are never alone. And anyone who knows that they aren’t really alone can’t be pushed and pulled, anymore.

I’ve been engaging in a wide variety of wishy-washy bullshit of finding myself over the last year, disassociating with the God that was created for me, the God my parents used to control me, the God that was used to control my parents, the God that was taking up all the room inside of me that was reserved for myself. It’s been a genuine eviction. In the process, I’ve dusted off parts of me I haven’t seen since I was a kid, talking to myself before someone else got in the way to intercept those conversations and contort them into a language that I didn’t recognize. The results looks like this–

My temper has decreased significantly.

I am able to name my feelings, and am working on sitting in them.

I exercise regularly, because I love my body as it is, and it’s fun. I’ve dispelled the myth that sweating makes me less attractive, and also dispelled the myth that my role is to be attractive to others.

I’ve quit drinking, mostly, and didn’t put up a fight about it.

I don’t have to have an explanation for the wild roiling that happens inside of me when I feel like laughing and crying at once, and instead of stopping it, I let it flow out of me and welcome the crazy person status because it makes me feel very much alive and grateful.

I am more patient with other people’s beliefs.

I am more patient with other people’s choices, and can more easily and readily assess the situation from their perspective.

I forgive faster, and with completion.

I dove head first into a new craft that I love and don’t worry about trying to obtain perfection within it.

I view my boundaries with more objectivity, and remember that they are there not to punish, but to create a healthier relationship with those they are set up for.

I’m more affectionate with my Someone.

That is to say, I think I may be growing up. It’s hard work, a lot of dusting, and a lot of being alone. Which is to say, being never alone. I got that wild roiling on my way down from the rock quarry. The cacophony of roosters and birds and coyote yips broke down to individual sounds, and I welcomed the myriad of creatures who were sharing the walk with me. Instead of defending my time, my space, my idyllic, solemn birthday walk, I welcomed myself to be welcome here. It’s been a lot of years of not trusting my own voice, of letting other people talk over me– of being lonely. Now that I’m welcomed to my own life, it’s easier to welcome others, too. It’s easier to ask for what I need and take delight in surprises and to feel fully alive and find amazement in the smell of coffee and a vase of flowers and a Happy Birthday sign with the “r” crooked hanging on the wall.

I’m just so damn happy to be here, all alone together.

7 comments

  1. Beautiful! You’re getting good at this (life, writing, growing up, et al). Not sure about the growing up part – I must be twice as far along and still putting that off. Congratulations!

    1. I was estranged from my parents for eight years. We reunited in time for me to spend two years with them before my father passed and four years before my mother passed. Some regrets? Yep.

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