The last year has been nothing less than the busiest and most exciting of my adulthood. Literally, I grew up. In the last six months, I got engaged, had my fifth knee surgery, bought a brand new “mom car” SUV and a new home with my (now) husband. I changed my last name and my job title. Within two weeks, we got married, went on a short honeymoon and I started a dream job as an Executive Director. Ya, I know…enough for a few years packed into a few months. Luckily, out of all this, I learned that I can survive most all of life’s major stressors without having an emotional breakdown. On the contrary, life has provided an abundant surplus of joy and revealed lessons beyond my young 20-something mindset.
I married another as I divorced myself from the dysfunctional attachment to the distorted image of who I thought I needed to be: physically, professionally, emotionally, and sexually. For the first time since I was 15, I started taking the deeper steps towards nurturing and nourishing my body (and soul) that I had long avoided due to my anxiety-ridden desperation to eradicate pain and rejection. My ego capitalized on the engrained message that high expectations and strict limits would result in beauty and happiness and wealth. Finding my life partner finally gave me the reality check that this revolving story was old and tattered and frankly, a big fat lie.
I had always envisioned that when I reached my “happy place”, I would be both happy, carefree, and skinny. Well, that’s also a big fat lie I no longer believe — starting with the reality that I am a 5’2″ woman. Embracing my femininity has awoken me to the grace of gentleness. And the 10 lbs. I gained after finally letting go of my addiction to exercise, it still makes me uncomfortable each day as I feel the jiggle here and there or feel the loss of muscle in my legs. But, that 10 lbs. has reinvigorated my spirit to honor my truth and forgive the damage and self-harm I caused. Those 10 lbs. simultaneously freed about 10 lbs. of stress and ridicule from my mind and expanded my potential to be grateful and present with the beauty of life, not my body. Those 10 lbs. of weight now provide the substance and grounding I was longing for all along. The flexibility I had physically since I was 3 now is manifesting mentally as I approach 30.
The ease and comfort that comes with reaching the state of not just talking about “acceptance” but feeling it in my core is humbling beyond description. My reactivity and restraint have sailed into the sunset. I no longer need them to function. I am free from the chains of fear-based self-hatred and manipulation and can focus on my capacity to build community and care for my family. Growing up is way better than I ever imagined. Bring it on 30s! The mortgage and the tough decisions because nothing is more of a struggle than trying to relate to the world in the delusional state that reduces myself to an image.
So there’s the gratitude…and it’s lovely and pleasantly overwhelming and all fuzzy and warm. But then there’s the guilt. The guilt is like your nagging relative that seems to never go away even if you move across the country; reminding you just how things always were, reciting the same stories of the ‘good ol’ days’ at each reunion.
Similar to how my mind replays the stories of how it always “should be” — the good ol’ days of unmet fantasies. No matter how much progress I make, the voice of dissatisfaction whispers. It’s a strange reality to let go of everything I gripped tightly to and still find the benefits of happiness and infinite gratitude. I’ve discovered expansive peace and security, understanding of life as it is, and ultimate trust in it all. But I feel guilty for breaking the bond with societal norms and working harder, faster. I feel guilty for not doing and being more, for not pleasing everyone, for the mess. I’m split between the gratitude and guilt. I have to teach myself each day to lean toward gratitude — to let go of the jiggle, the excess, the change from rigid to fluid, from firm to soft. I’m figuring out what I need. The marriage, new car, spacious home, and director level job are all what I’ve been striving for in the 15 years during my darkest days. And now the grass is greener, jiggle and all. The most ironic tale that I copyright as my own. I’m in awe, with daily gratitude, a calmer demeanor, occasional guilt and insecurity, with plenty of curiosity amongst hope and trust.