I always heard that being in your thirties is the best. You come into your own and stop giving a shit about what people think. You learn to embrace who you are and stop trying to be who you think everyone wants you to be.
And it’s eerily true. As I entered my thirties, it was like a light switch went on inside my head and I realized that it wasn’t that I stopped trying to be this idea of who I thought I needed to be, but I had become who I wanted to be. Or, maybe I had been that person for years and I was finally, cliche as it sounds, learning to love myself. Or at least like myself.
As someone who has spent many, many years feeling, for lack of a better term, unworthy, that was a huge fucking deal. This is going to sound super cheesy, but I legit spent every day feeling as though I was living as my true self, rather than hiding my flaws and insecurities. I was learning to be unapologetically me. Emotional, sensitive, loud, often overwhelming me. And that was okay. In fact, it was pretty great.
Something changes when you go through trauma. Or, I guess I should say, something happened to me as I’ve gone through the trauma of losing Maddox.
You never stop to think what will happen to me if I lose my child? And once your inside a circumstance that on the outside felt impossible, there is no way to even imagine what the next minute of your life will hold, let alone the next chapter.
It’s one of those moments that creates a defining break in your life, cuts it into two vastly different pieces. My life before Maddox. And my life as his mom.
I get that. And I think my people get it, even if they don’t get it.
Recently, I asked a good friend who also lost her child if I will ever feel like myself again. She bluntly told me no. In the most loving and honest way possible – no sugar coating, no false expectations. Once you lose your child, you will never be the same again.
So okay, that is something I have to learn to live with. I have to discover this new version of myself and, although that’s not okay, it’s okay. It’s expected? It makes sense.
But now I find myself in this position of meeting new people at this very weird, in-between stage of my life. A stage where I don’t like myself anymore because I’m not the person I was before and I’m not the person I want to become. I’m, truthfully, the worst version of myself. And I don’t know how to interact in the world like a normal adult. It’s like I have to literally learn to adult all over again.
Today, I stopped to look at myself for a moment. And I thought: If I met me now, for the first time, what would I see? And, honestly, I hated the answer.
I’m not entirely sure how to say what I want to say next. I’ve written and erased it about 700 times by now. I guess it comes down to seeing more and more every day how much of myself I’ve lost. How I’ve become someone cold, closed and disingenuous.
I spend enormous amounts of energy trying to slap on a happy face, which is silly because no one expects that. But it’s like I’m terrified to really be me.
Honestly, it’s really frustrating. And embarrassing. Knowing who you thought you were, but not knowing who you are now. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain.
So, now, at 32 years old, I find myself starting from scratch. Except, not really from scratch. It’s like, if sea level is where most people begin as they start creating themselves, I am at the bottom of the fucking ocean trying like hell just to get to square one.
But, somehow I haven’t completely drowned. So I guess that’s something.