Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What I Would Have Missed

The rain was falling softly on my windshield as I cruised in my car rocking out to The Clash. I don't know what it is about driving on a rainy night with my favorite playlist flooding out of my speakers that elevate my peace barometer. 

I experience an unnatural state of happiness in those moments of solitude in my car. Yet, it wasn't always like that. 

As I drove two nights ago in my sublime state I had flashbacks of another time in my car when I felt the opposite. Actually, there were a handful of moments in my car when all I wanted to do was drive myself straight into a wall. 

The memories flooded into my car and mingled with the music. For a second I, again, felt the despair, hopelessness and oppression of being in an abusive marriage that would compel me to entertain the idea of smashing myself into a wall. But that second came and went like the rain that softly dropped on the roof of my car. 

I drove with a deep sense of gratitude for my present life, my present state of mind and my present spiritual journey. It was painstaking work to get here, the road littered with lessons of growth. 

There was a time when my youngest, my boy, was only three-years-old and I almost succeeded in ending my life. Hundreds of memories have faded into the ether but the time I sat in my idling car in the garage with the exhaust fumes lulling me into nothingness remains a technicolor snapshot in my mind. 

Had I not heard my sister's voice calling me in my almost unconscious state I wouldn't be here. It was her voice that woke me to reason and led me to turn the car off. It was only when I went back inside the quiet and darkened house that I realized she and the rest of my family were sleeping. 

I wish I could say that my life became better and brighter afterwards but it actually hit lower than rock bottom. When I say it was painstaking work to reach this half-a-century-young milestone it is not an understatement. As I write this blog post I have a smile of satisfaction on my face. 

It's the kind of smile that shows the world that I triumphed over the effed up mistakes I've made and learned to stop blaming others for them. Taking accountability for my actions unlocked the doorway toward my freedom. It wasn't until I stopped allowing abuse to define me that I began traveling on the path to inner growth. It's not easy and I've learned to forgive myself first before others; love myself first over others; and respect myself first before I extend it to others. 

Today, as I woke up on my 50th birthday I went down the list of everyone and everything I'm grateful for including what I would have missed if I didn't hear my sister's voice that one night in my family's garage. 

I would have missed...

This year my first grandkid turned 10, I turned 50, my mom will be 80 in August and my middle child will enter her 30s in the Fall. My youngest who was three when I sat in that exhaust-filled car almost 24 years ago is going to be a dad in June. His wife is more a friend than an in-law and will be the mother of my second grandkid. My oldest will be getting married next year to a man whom I already think of as a son. 

The boy I had a crush on when I was 15 has been my partner for the past 9.5 years and has taught me more about relationships than any I've been in.

My siblings (in-laws included) keep me grounded in who I am. Without them I would flounder with my head up in the clouds where I always seem to find myself in. 

My gang of nieces and nephews have brought me much joy every time I hang out with them from the littlest to the oldest. 

My cousins who are my closest friends make me wonder what my life would be like if we didn't have each other. 

My family (and the ones I've acquired through my daughter-in-law) remind me that it truly does take a village to raise one another. I don't know what I would have done during my dad's sickness and death without them. 

The friends in my life (y'all know who you are) bring adventure, playfulness, camaraderie and companionship that I look forward to all year. (Shout out to the friends who always invite us over for UFC fights!)

My job, along with my manager and teammates, give me a purpose every day even in the midst of hellacious busy seasons and heavy workloads. 

My activist life has expanded my entire being, first with fighting against human trafficking and now for social injustices in our current climate. 

The unsung heroes/sheroes I've been fortunate to meet who inspire me daily to be a better version of myself. 

My photography journey has been quite an adventure of Alice in Wonderland proportions with me picking up good friends along the crazy ride. It's helped me discover my authentic voice and how to use it to tell a narrative through my portraits. 

My dad's death almost two years ago was an experience most people would probably prefer to avoid. It was a difficult time, yes, but it was his death that helped me see the importance of celebrating birthdays and cheesy holidays. I used to be low-key on birthdays and militant about being anti-Hallmark holidays. But when you see a parent on his deathbed wishing he had more time to live life and celebrate another birthday you learn quickly to have no shame in celebrating each birthday and cheesy holiday. My parents were one year shy of their 50th wedding anniversary when he passed away. 

It was during this time that I also learned that living life to its fullest means embracing the bad with the good. I finally stopped running away from pain or protecting myself from it. One of the most important lessons I learned in my 49th year is summed up in a quote from the book, The Untethered Soul
The path of letting go allows you to free your energies so that you can free yourself. Right in the midst of your daily life, by untethering yourself from the bondage of your psyche, you actually have the ability to steal freedom for your soul. This freedom is so great it has been given a special name---liberation. 
I've always said that my 40s have been the BEST years of my life but I have a sneaking suspicion my 50s will outdo my last decade so I've buckled myself in and off I go! 

My friend, Isaiah, posted this on his
Instastory last night. It is exactly
how I live my life and will continue on to
this next decade!