Wednesday, April 18

A 40 Year Reflective – Part II: The Last 20

Tomorrow I will turn “two twenties” as I like to call it. This is the first milestone birthday I’ve actually looked forward to since turning 21. Looking back at the last 20 years, despite major life changes (both good and bad), I can see just how much I’ve changed, grown, and finally learned to accept myself and all my idiosyncrasies.

My early twenties were spent in and out of school, trying to decide “what I wanted to be when I grew up”. I still haven’t quite figured that one out, but I’ve tried my hand at a variety of things over the years – catering, administrative support, event management, consulting. One of my major regrets is not completing my degree. With only 18 credit hours left to complete, you’d think I would have found a way to do so, but I haven’t. I keep telling myself “Someday I’ll finish”, but that someday just never seems to come. There are a million reasons why I never finished – most I don’t want to discuss here – and I have grown to accept my failure and continue to move forward despite it.

The first 29 years of my life were spent living in California. My parents, in fact, still live in the same house I grew up in. Being the wild and crazy, rebellious woman I was at that time, I met someone on-line and moved to Arizona. It was a new adventure for me, living in another state for the first time in my life, and one that (later) became a real introspective discovery.

The year after moving to Arizona, I married the man I moved for, and we began our life as husband and wife. Little did I know then how many curve balls would be thrown my way in the future. After a miscarriage early in marriage, there was a shift – one that I didn’t see then, but have spent countless hours working through in the past few years. Then, in 2000, we were blessed with the birth of our son. It was then I truly realized what “love at first sight” was. I never knew it was possible to love someone so much, without reservation. Unfortunately, it came with a hefty price – the continued distancing in my relationship with my husband.

In April 2001, through the powers of the military relocation demands, we ended up here, in Washington. A place I felt comfortable having visited countless times growing up. A place I knew would be a place to start “anew”. Only I didn’t know the whole world would be starting anew along side me on September 11th. My husband was deployed to the Middle East just 15 days before the attacks, and I was left to fly solo with a one year old toddler. It was preparation I would need for the future.

He returned the following year, and exactly a year and a day after his return, he was deployed again. After another safe return, the shift had grown to epic proportions. We were no longer a family, as family should be. We were no longer husband and wife, as partners. We were simply two individuals living different lives in the same existence. I am still uncertain whether this shift was a continuation of the shift from the early years of our marriage, or whether the perils of war were too much for us to sustain, but we didn’t sustain – and it ended.

In April 2004, ironically exactly 3 years ago today, I found myself faced with being a single parent, without more than an Associates degree, and not having worked out of the home for four years. It was the most painful, scary time of my life, feeling completely lost and alone. The one thing that was both a curse and a blessing was my son. Though I would never, ever even remotely consider him a curse, the simple fact of having him to care for and worry about prevented me from just picking up and moving on with my life without having to take his well being into consideration. But, without him, I would never be the same person I am today – stronger, wiser, more attentive.

I firmly believe that all things in life happen for a reason. It has taken me years to truly embrace that idea, but with the love and support of many friends and family, I do. Without my ex, I wouldn’t have my wonderful son. Without my son, I likely wouldn’t have met my dear friend Stacie. Without being forced to find work, I wouldn’t have met Groove, or any of the other people I still keep in contact with from my last job. And without all of these changes, both good and bad, I would not be the same woman I’ve become in my “two twenties”.


Liss said...

and without meeting wouldn't have met Liss (you had to know that was coming)

Anonymous said...

It was great to read this and get to know you better!

Sizzle said...

what a journey! thank you for sharing this look back. it gives me even more appreciation for the wonderful woman you are.

today's your birthday!

Jay said...

Happy birthday!
Look how gorgeous you are.
Life can be crazy sometimes, but you grow and you change and you become a better and more interesting person - which you most definitely are.

Jessica said...

Happy belated birthday, Big Sis

Dan said...

You young whipper-snappers have it so good these days. When I was your age I was walking to school, in the middle of a blizzard, in my stocking feet.