Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
I’ve often spoke of the multiple transitions that I’ve been experiencing since finishing college, much of which has been taking place in moments rather than in stages. The last year or so has felt like one incredibly long night, and one that is filled with grief, loss, fear, anger, uncertainty, exhaustion, and occasionally despair. Every so often the darkness threatens to swallow me whole, causing me to wonder if my friends and family would be better off if I just went away for a while and didn’t come back until I got my shit together. In the grand scheme of things, I’m fully aware of how important it is to acknowledge and embrace emotional ups and downs, despite the societal encouragement to go numb all together.
Since every journey is different, you really can’t put a timeline on the healing process. There is such a thing as getting through it, but never quite getting over the pain, the piece of your life or your heart that was buried underneath all the devastation. There is indeed a time for everything, whether it involves mourning or celebration; for me it is not a question of what exactly, but of when.
When is it time?
Time for what, exactly? I don’t want to say “let go” because that seems to imply that you go through a whole range of motions and then act like the whole thing never happened. “Move on” is rather cliche, and is more applicable to relationships; in my case, relationships aren’t necessarily ending, but some of them will look and function differently. When I truly think about it, it comes down to this:
When is it time to stop wallowing and start living?
I’d been angry and depressed for a while, and to such a level where I felt like an animal gone rogue. Having no control over the decisions that were being made, I felt like it was the only way to truly protect myself from what was going on around me, and to make sure that I wasn’t taken advantage of. Lashing out didn’t do a whole lot in regards to motivating the people around me to listen, but neither did holding it all in.
Some have and will call me selfish, and I’m not going to deny it. I came to a point where I was tired of being the rock, the parent, the one that held the fort down while all hell broke loose. I didn’t know how to support one without resenting the other, and I’ve always believed that you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else. Isn’t post-grad usually the time when most people establish healthy boundaries in order to find their own footing? I was constantly being told that I needed to focus on my own life, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t always compassionate, nor was I always mature. Now that the smoke has begun to clear, understanding might be a little bit easier to come by.
I’ve learned a lot, much of which I’m not quite ready to share with the world just yet. Though I don’t agree with how certain aspects were handled, I pray that this next chapter gives both of my parents the freedom to find their own sense of happiness and make better, healthier decisions for themselves.
So what now?
I’m re-discovering my identity, one that is fully anchored in faith instead of the events of the last decade or so. I’m learning about truly being comfortable with who I am as a person, to own my perspective instead of questioning it. The beauty of being where I’m at now is that I feel like it’s less about what I have to prove, and more about what I have to give/offer. I shouldn’t have to constantly explain or justify my reasoning, as long as I don’t harm myself or others in the process. I still care, but I’m not putting my lively-hood on the backbone of other opinions.
It comes down to choices, really: you can use happenstance as an excuse to blame other people for your wounds, or you can put on your boots and keep walking. The older you get, the more autonomy you have to go your own way. It’s why I don’t fear getting married or being committed to someone, because I’m aware that history doesn’t have to repeat itself.
If nothing else, I’m afraid of missing out on life because I held back.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that it won’t involve falling down, picking myself back up, and starting over again. It’s going to happen a lot. A lot of my personality has been a defense mechanism in what has gone on, not just with my parents’ situation, but for most of my life. There is a part of me that will always have this feisty, don’t mess-with-me attitude that is more than determined to accomplish what I’ve set out to do. From this point on, I can be stubborn and hard-headed while having a soft heart. I can take things in baby steps while still building something worth holding onto, whether it be creative or relationship-oriented.
Yes, it’s very possible.
I still have moments where I feel like I’m going through a bit of an aftershock: like I’m a character in a horror movie who’s standing in a clearing in the woods, waiting for the monster or whatever to come out and attack her again. It will take time to get used to this “new normal” as it’s called, but it will happen eventually.
I have trouble finding adequate words to express how grateful I am to those that rallied around me, who still walk with me to this day. I’m grateful for the validation and reminders that I wasn’t alone, that I had people to confide in and carry me (both literally and figuratively) when I needed it. I’m thankful for those that prayed, listened, loved, and still continue to do so. And…I’m grateful for a kick in the pants every so often.
I’d like to think of myself as a strong person. Resilient. Determined. Brave. Raw. Nothing can hold me down, and nothing can keep me in.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.