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She used to be mine

When I was 14, I staged a rebellion at 2am.

Until that point in my life, my freedom was not my own. My mother had kept my hair long, and refused all requests of color or length change. I begged and begged, and she assured me that because when she was six years old and her mother let her cut her long locks as short as she wanted to, that she was saving me from a life of bad haircut PTSD. I told her that I would just do it myself. That’s right, I’d turn to the mean and gritty streets of my moderately middle-class town and get the job done.

Go. Right. Ahead.

That was the first and last time my mother has ever said those words to me. At an indecent hour, at the age of 14, I stood in the harsh and unforgiving fluorescent lights of my bathroom, and cut myself free. Literally. I didn’t measure, but I’d venture to say I cut well more than a foot off my hair and because I was 14, there was a moment I entertained that perhaps she wouldn’t notice. Of course, she did.

Frantic, she drove me to a salon as soon as they opened in hopes that all would not be lost. As the lady snipped and shaped, I felt like for the first time in my life I was starting to see me in the mirror. When she picked up a strand of hair and leaned into the light, she asked me, “Is your hair pink?”

Something that my mother had not actually noticed. In my rebellion, I broke into my school supplies and used the ink packs from two pink highlighters to make a simple temporary hair dye which resulted in my darker shade of brown having a slightly pink tint to it. Before my mother yanked me out of the chair and took my actual freedom away, the lady held her back and said “But look how cute this is. This looks good on her.”

I think as with myself, for the first time, my mom saw me and not the child she’d intended me to be.

“Damn you, it does look perfect.” She admitted.

Days before my birthday this year, I was with my favorite girl who has been going along with my every dye and cut whim for the better part of a decade now. She asked me what I was in the mood for and I told her that I kind of wished my hair was pink. She was all too happy to get moving in her color lab. In the end, as we sat together to examine her work in the mirror she smiled and said to me, “If ever there was a natural pink, you’re it. This is so you.”

Here I was, facing forty…and seeing that 14 year old in the mirror so clearly.

She is so naturally me.

It’s no secret that I’ve placed a monumental amount of pressure on the act of turning 40. Oprah promised me that God’s gift to us was that we actually get to be whoever it was that we were meant to be.

Imagine me, sitting in the middle of a pile of cubes, all of which represent an aspect my personality, examining them to see if I should keep or toss them. This is where I have been for the better part of the last 365 days.

What about me is worth keeping?

What about me do I wish to be free of?

A friend of mine and I were talking about the things that inherently make me ME, and I said that I regret everything and nothing all at the same time.

And I think that’s what being 40 is. It’s when you can look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you regret everything and nothing all at the same time.

I have written strongly worded letters for as long as I can remember. I’ve penned them to friends, to loves, to colleagues, to organizations, to businesses and even once I told an entire United States Embassy that they were doing nearly everything wrong. The fallout always has the potential of being massive and not anything anyone is prepared to deal with.

I regret everything.

But, when I see something, I say something. These letters are often not to benefit me in any way, they are often to represent the voice of those who cannot or are too scared to stand up for themselves. I’ve stood back in pride as I’ve watched my youngest child who is not yet a full-blown teenager walk up to an adult and say – Hey look, we all have to be accountable for our actions. Be accountable for your actions.

I regret nothing.

My husband and I went through our storage unit a while back and he handed me a box filled with notebooks. I only had to open one to realize what they were- My actual grand plans. All of them. Page after page of listing goals and a broken down plan of how to attain them. These books were so ridiculously me, they even had pages abandoned simply because I didn’t like the way the pen made my handwriting look. Hours of overcomplicating my simple little life and trying to figure out every move I’ve got to make between birth and death for it to be successful.

I regret everything.

But, I’ve got a plan. I’ve always got a plan. I break every big dream down into an obtainable goal and ask myself what moves I will make to get myself there. Hell, I’ve even planned out the scenario in which I toss it all to the wind and say C’est la vie, and I disappear.

I’ve helped friends believe that they can reach goals. And as my oldest child grows, I see him face things head on without fear. This is what I want…how do I get it?

I regret nothing.

I was the girl who was in love with being in love. I gave my love away without condition. I asked for nothing in return. I scribbled my name as a Mrs. in the margins of all those notebooks. I saw the very best version of the person that I chose to love, that made them nothing short of being the most amazing human being on this earth. And because I did not shelter my heart, and gave this love in blind faith, a shattering reality is what I sometimes was left with. I have learned that my love alone is not enough.

I regret everything.

I have loved without condition. I have seen, despite what’s around me, the very best in a person. I have always treated the love that I give away as the most special and valuable thing I have to offer, so it’s been offered only to those who are worthy of that responsibility. I put blind faith that something that shouldn’t be, could be, if only I don’t walk away or give up. It is amazing where love can flourish if only you give it the chance. I have a whole notebook of my name and my husbands in dreamy scribbles.

I regret nothing.

I have always been too wordy. The auidence I request knows they will need to sit down. I see the big breath they take when they open an email, or a letter, or a blog post.

I regret everything.

I’ve never given words. This is my canvas and I offer you art. It is not beautiful to all, but it is beautiful to some and that is enough for me. If you get lost in the moments, the way I have, that is everything.

I regret nothing.

I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to devote my entire adult life to a family that I only dreamed of. I wanted to fill voids that I was never brave enough to talk about. I wanted to spend some time with the lonely little girl that lived in my heart. I never have been able to shake myself of trying to fix her broken world and never pushed myself to strive for anything different. I was never able to dream beyond wanting stability for her.

I regret everything.

I never let go of her. Every single move I’ve made, I’ve healed her just a little bit. In my children, I see her thriving. In my husband, I see her growing. I’ve created the family that gives her rest from her weary life, and the love for her lonely soul. She is free, and because of that, I can dream of something beyond hope.

I regret nothing.

I sit here, looking at all these pieces of me, and seeing my quirky imperfections. I’m always going to wish I was stronger, smarter, and better equipt for life. I’m always going to ask myself, why do you have to be so weird?

I regret everything.

It is those quirky imperfections that make me stronger, smarter, and more adaptable than I ever would have been. The thing that makes me the most lovable according to those who love me is in fact because I am so weird.

I regret nothing.

I sit here, thinking about the girl I used to be, and all the things she had to go through to bring me here.

I regret everything.

I regret nothing.

 

“She’s imperfect, but she tries

She is good, but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy, but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie

She is gone, but she used to be mine.”

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