Though I’ve had my share of struggles, I’m a very fortunate person. Life has given me the privilege to meet, get to know, and live with several distinctly different versions of myself as an adult. The first version of me was the wild 18-22 year-old college student who often made terrible decisions based solely on what made the pain of a dying mother go away. Those decisions often involved rather risky behaviors and very little positive cognitive processing. If it felt freeing, fun, or dangerous, I was doing it with little thought of consequences.
My wild years, ushered in the next phase of my adulthood which reigned from 23-30 and involved the birth of two gorgeous daughters, one marriage followed by one divorce, and the joy of living below the national poverty level. (I’m not using the word joy in a facetious manner; an explanation is coming)
Next, came my years of single motherhood from 31-36. These years were marked with fun, adventure, frustration on many levels, loneliness and continuing poverty.
My single years ended when I met the man that I’m now married to. From 37-40 all of our lives became significantly better, fuller, and richer with love.
Then, just when things seemed to be flowing smoothly, my younger daughter’s first depressive episode surfaced when I was 41. Though my daughter was properly diagnosed with Type II Bipolar Disorder within two years of her first episode, and though she was properly treated and doing well, my years from 41-48 were dark. Anxiety and isolation were the central themes of my existence and I spent most of my time compulsively eating to quell my anxiety and waiting for the next episode to happen.
Now, at 50, the past two years of my life have been an incredible period of growth for me. I have two wonderfully healthy daughters and a fabulous stepson. I am married to the kindest man in the world. I have the freedom to be the person that I want to be and I’m finding that the true person that I am is loving, patient, kind, giving, caring, calm, healthy, at peace, and very awake to the possibilities that life has to offer. The amazing thing is, that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the contrast of the past “me(s)” that I’ve been. Had I not had a “wild” period would I have been naïve to what my teenaged children could have been up to? Had I never experienced anxiety, would I now recognize peace? Had I not lived in poverty, would I now appreciate the little things, like having a dishwasher, or my own washer and dryer? Would I have figured out how to make something fun, or useful out of the limited resources that I had? I don’t think so. Had I not witnessed illness, I could now take my own health, or the health of my loved ones for granted. Had I not known loneliness and lack of family, I might not hold my husband, and the family and friends that I have, so dear.
The suffering that I experienced in my past is only a memory that I can chose to dwell on, or learn from. I’m certainly glad that I’ve finally reached a point in my life that is no longer dictated by the past. Goodness is now and the days ahead are what I choose to create. Do I wish that I could have figured this all out sooner? Of course, but I think we all figure things out in our own time though our own life experiences.
What experiences have you learned from and have made you appreciate the life you have now?