I am having a hard time posting this. It feels pointless and kind of more personal than I usually get here. Plus I try to avoid talking about other people outside of my immediate family because well, this stuff is their business not mine but here I kind of do, in a round about way, and it feels weird. But I am going to post it anyway, because, there it is.
I turn 40 this year (not until August but I am pondering right now). I have multiple other friends who are also turning 40 (which is very funny for a girl who never had friends her own age to suddenly have friends her own age). There has been much chatter among us about bucket lists, things we wish we had done, things we want to do. So of course that got me pondering my own stuff.
The thing is I am happy in my life. There isn’t anything awesome I have always wanted to do. There isn’t anything I haven’t already gone and done if I wanted to. There isn’t any class I would like to take, thing I would like to learn. There aren’t any new hairstyles, clothing styles, tattoo, piercings, what-have-you that I want to try that I haven’t already. (Nope, not interested in tattoos though I enjoy seeing them on others, I have all the piercings I want and don’t even use those, I love seeing other people with dreads but just thinking about having them makes my head itchy and gives me a headache, and I already dress and wear my hair exactly how I like it.) The only thing I plan to do, I hope to do, is pay off my college loan and travel more in the future but I want to pay off that pesky loan first, which I am working on. Otherwise I am happy with my life. I like where I am, who I am, what I am. So, thinking about turning 40 and where I am and where I am going I am also pondering where I have been and I realize that sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I forget where I came from. I forget the experiences that brought me to where I am now.
A lot of it I choose to forget.
Anorexic me. That chubby face never did go away.
Fourteen year old me was a naive idiot who was also slightly boy crazy and a stalker. She was best friends with a cheerleader and a book geek who was smarter than me, way smarter (she is now a college professor) and was always fighting with one of them. She had several friends that were boys (the only ones she could talk to- was afraid of talking to anyone else and didn’t realize till years later that they had crushes on her. She began her battle with Rheumatoid arthritis, crawling to the shower every morning hoping that by the end she would be able to stand up and then walk.
Sixteen year old me thought being skinny was more important than life and battled anorexia and bulimia. She dated a sweet guy, cheated on him with another guy who was less sweet, then dumped him right before prom (which is where Shamus and I got started).
Prom- with Shamus
Seventeen year old me thought it romantic to say I didn’t want to get married because I hoped I would die in an auto accident before I was 21. She fought depression, chopped off all her hair, quit wearing makeup, decided she had had way too much of trying to be like anyone else. She was the girl who thought she was crazy. Really. Till she got a hold of Myer’s Briggs/Kersey Temperament sorter and realized no, just had a unique personality, only 1% of the population. She years later would find out that her brother’s female friends looked up to her and thought she was the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Senior picture. My mom had to fight me to put on some lip gloss. I flat out refused for my graduation photo. Fall 1991.
Eighteen through 21 year old me was in college, hung out in the library stacks or in the art department, had a series of good friends ranging from an older student who was lovely, sweet and said hi to me everyday until I finally responded then invited me to hang out with her almost daily- I would love to see what she is up to now…but I can only remember her first name because I suck and had a horrible memory back then, a gay drug dealer who was the sweetest guy I ever met, a guy who had a wall of porn on the back of his door who offered to beat up any guy who treated me wrong but was definitely not interested in me as a girl, a girl who was so extroverted that she couldn’t stand to be alone, ever, a 50 year old hippy dude who probably hung around me because he assumed from the way I dressed and behaved (ditz anyone?) I could probably get him some weed, a fun-loving art chick who did her best to sleep around with every guy she could because she was getting married soon and didn’t want to cheat on him (he reminded me of the jerk fiance from The Wedding Singer), a wonderful British black chick who happened to be an orphan and hated being called African American because “I am BRITISH and I am BLACK.” Managed to destroy that friendship in one night when I went on an anti-abortion tirade only to find out she had had 2 and had never told anyone.
Freshman in college. With my cousins, brothers, and great-grandfather.
I dated a series of guys including a D&D geek who also larped (boy do I wish I hadn’t dated him and had just gone along for a game – because awesome), 2 guys that were 9 years older than me- 1 a Star Trek geek geologist and 1 an art geek who had a hippy bus and smoked weed, and Shamus, who I dated off and on because I was an idiot and didn’t know how awesome I had it with him. I also got hit on by a lesbian (didn’t know it. My friends had to take me aside and explain things to me later that night), hung around a lot of people who smoked pot and drank and never once tried either and generally didn’t realize they even did, went to my one and only party and thought it remarkably dumb- probably because I didn’t drink or smoke, had ramen for the first time ever, took a bus for the first time, spent 3 months in Poland, lost my passport, all my money, and my id in one go by leaving it in a cab in Poland, had a creepy stalker that I had to call the police about, worked as nanny for 6 kids, learned to metal smith, discovered that I don’t enjoy pottery making, found out that that problem with the weird missing chemical that meant cold medicines didn’t work also meant wonderful drugs like Xanax don’t work, discovered that I knew more than my professors in the classes I was interested in- that was super disappointing – pay for a class then be asked to help teach it- um, no, and spent a lot of time with my nose in a book unrelated to my actual studies.
In Krakow, Poland. It was very, very cold. Brrr. 1995?
I hate thinking about it because I hate thinking about how foolish I was. Really. I hate who I was. That girl was whiny, a compulsive liar, went through a huge bought of depression including lists of how to commit suicide (never tried any- I am a wimp), had no problem cheating on her boyfriend, was scared to talk to people (unless they talked to her first, then couldn’t shut up), and had a huge case of “poor me”. There is a reason I try to forget her.
Sometimes we forget on purpose. But in the process we forget part of what made us who we are now. I hate lying passionately because I used to lie constantly. I hate hanging around whiny complainers because that is what I used to be. But the people? I wonder about them. Where are they now. Who are they now? They are probably all out there somewhere and I wonder. I don’t really want to hang out with any of them, except maybe cheerful neighbor girl and awesome British art chick, but the rest, nah. But I wonder.
I also forget the other people. I have had a lot of friends who, when we quit seeing eye to eye, when they found out that even though we agree on these things we really disagree on that thing drifted off or just plain left, some I just drifted away from as our lives took us different directions, some just put up with me until they couldn’t any more, some were genuine friends until we couldn’t be for one reason or another… all those people. I wonder about them. Some were more mature than I was, just couldn’t get through to me and finally realized I just wasn’t ready for what they were advising me and moved out of the way. I wonder how many I drove crazy with my whining and complaining (didn’t stop that till my late 20’s- blech. I feel bad for anyone who was near me during that time because I was high maintenance.)
2 years after Issac was born. Shamus and I were just beginning to heal our marriage. I was still an unhappy creature learning to stop complaining.
Sometimes I forget about all of them, because I am busy trying to forget who I was. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to think of the people I hurt with my words, with my actions, with my behaviors, with my constant complaining about my life and my husband. And I did. It was horrible. It nearly destroyed my marriage. I know now but I didn’t then. And in forgetting I forget how I got here. What changed and how and what God did and how amazing it was.
Sometimes I forget how He removed my fear. I forget how He very clearly and deliberately removed my lying. My worry. My complaining. I think that last took the longest, because not only did I have to change my behavior but I also had to heal the relationships my complaining had damaged. I had to learn to encourage, to be gentle, to be kind. I had to learn to love. It was hard. I didn’t love His people. I couldn’t stand them. I hated people and all their quirks and how they called me weird all the time. How they looked down on my point of view, discounted it because I didn’t see the world they did. I hated it. I hated them.
My boy and I. We were both very, very pukey.
Sometimes I forget all that and start to slide back into that place. I start whining about things, complaining, getting irritated at this or that, or realizing I have been cranky instead of compassionate. I don’t have it all together but I do have to guard against falling back into the old habits He eradicated, and to do that I have to remember.
Sometimes I forget that I spent years praying that God would give me love for his people. Praying for peace. And wisdom. And discernment. Because I didn’t have those things. I just had fear and worry and whining and complaining and foolishness, even after He removed the lying. And slowly. Surely. He removed them. One by one. He removed that stuff and I go and forget.
Nowadays sometimes I forget that everyone is dealing with things I may know little to nothing about. Things that aren’t even on my radar but have been in the past. I am surprised when someone talks about gambling, or going to a bar, or watching a ball game, or some problem at church, or their flavor of politics because those things usually don’t come up. Those things aren’t a part of our lives so I don’t think about them. And sometimes I forget they exist.
My mom and I. The very, very hot day she got remarried. We were melting.
Sometimes I forget that I used to force my opinion on other people. That I used to argue everything, and could easily slide from one side to the other while they weren’t looking. I was good at that. I was sneaky. Nowadays I prefer to do things differently. I don’t talk my anarcho-capitalist-libertarian views with my anarcho-communist friends, or my extreme liberal friends, or my greenie friends or my republican friends, unless someone else brings it up. I don’t talk anti-vaccine or alternative medicine stuff with my traditional medicine pro-vaccine friends. I don’t talk about unschooling to my teacher friends. I don’t talk about Christianity with my atheist gaming geek or artist friends. At least I don’t do it deliberately- if you follow me on Facebook then you likely get an eyeful of things you don’t like though I don’t usually share the obnoxious stuff I agree with. I am sure many people I know choose to hide me from their feed, I hope so if it irritates them. I know I do all the time. The stuff that takes something I see as truth and shoves it in your face in a snarky way- I may like it but I choose not to share. As much because I hate when people I disagree with share snarky stuff and because that stuff tends to lead to arguments but also because I prefer showing instead of telling, especially snarky telling. So I try to live my life out in the open. I don’t always manage it but I try. That way people who disagree with us can see that stuff and ignore it, or if they see it, that it blesses us, they can ask me about it (and they do. I spend a lot of my days nowadays answering questions.) But it is amazing to remember how I got here. Why we believe the way we do about all the things that mainstream thinkers call us weird about (or whichever catch their eye). And I still get that. Being called weird when I share my views, having my ideas pushed aside because they are too far out of the box. Sometimes getting poo-pooed and called weird hurts just like it did when I was a kid. But then I remember that, well, for me, the box is still there. I just don’t bother climbing in. I prefer to stay outside and see all the cool stuff out here. I just need to make sure I don’t forget. Forget what it was like. Forget where I come from. Forget how things used to be. Forget why they changed.
One of Shamus’ many, many black and white shadow photos of me. Probably around 2002.
So I guess my goal for the coming year is to not forget. To remember. To remember where I came from. Who I was and how I got here. To deliberately remember that I am still becoming, that I am not finished yet, but that I have come a long way.