Memories of emotional lead ups from my past seven birthdays are heavy. For many years, every year, the harder I fought to “do things right’, the more it felt like they were going wrong. I carried deep shame as each birthday approached — another year older, and…what to show? It felt like blow after blow; as if with each passing year; during a decade usually so full of progress and milestones, I had less and less to be proud of.
Those thoughts, that pain, was so profound and pervasive. Being surrounded by my unbelievably incredible family, a handful of exceptional friends and world class medical professionals multiplied my guilt. All of these people, my people, doing everything in their power to help and support me in “getting better” — and this is all I can offer? Increasing limitations on ways we can celebrate together, worsening pain, crumbling functionality, never ending medical bills, more support to ask for, the list goes on and on....
The bravery and strength it took to smile through each birthday was so deeply terrifying I kept it buried — deep. The weight was crushing — who are you to be so blessed and not be getting better? How can you feel like this, think like this, when you are so supported and loved? What is wrong with you that you keep getting worse? The self-talk was bitter and constant. So, I kept it locked within; wrestling internally with a storm of heavy emotion while trying to muster up an authentic smile to wear externally, both for myself and for the people I love.
This year, as June was approaching, I poured my heart out in a journal entry late one night after a soul-filling meditation and freestyle yoga to Trevor Hall on Spotify (literal medicine to me these days). The words flowed out of me with little thought; a pure train of consciousness directly from my heart. Only until reading them back did I realize the gift they held and burden they lifted.
For the first time since turning 20 years old — I realized I feel at peace and excited about my upcoming birthday. It washed over me like cool aloe on a wound, that I like who I am becoming. I’m proud of my hard earned resilience, mindset and the lens through which I have learned to view the world. My relationships are more authentic and honest than they have ever been. I connect daily with like minded souls on a platform where I feel like I am making a difference and sharing my light (thanks to you 🥰). And maybe, most importantly, I have the knowledge, not just hope, that I can handle my health and my life. Even here, at my physical rock bottom, I know I can handle it — all of it.
I clearly remember driving in the car talking with my Dad a few days before my 24th birthday. In an effort to make me feel better on a difficult day he laughed and said, “you know what sweetie, it’s only up from here — can’t be any worse than 23!” — partly for me and partly for him, I forced a smile and rolled my eyes, “haha yep, let’s hope so Dad…”. Inside, I collapsed into fear and sadness. I desperately wanted to believe he was right, but my data from the past few years screamed loudly that it could get worse, it was worse and probably would get worse.
The deep hurt from that time in my life is still a part of me, but today I can hold it with the most gentle compassion instead of letting it take over my mind. That pain brought me here, to now, to this place of immense perspective and gratitude; and for that I can appreciate it.
Here, it is safe to let it go and rest in the new security I have found. To find calm in my sanctuary within that says, “there is a way through this, and I’m going to find it”. The part of my mind that chooses to act out of love instead of fear. That is so damn resilient, brave, trusting and determined. The piece of me that knows I am wholly worthy of a happy, joyful life where I achieve all of my dreams — having a family, being a Mom, healing on every level, running free, lying in the sun and helping others through work that lights my soul on fire and pours purpose into my heart.
I know that I’m closer to all of that than I ever have been. The past seven years have taught me and shaped me in an indescribable way. Throughout this time, the part of myself I now know so well; this place of calm purpose and trusting the universe — has never given up on guiding me more and more toward light and love. I know that no matter what comes my way, I can grow. I can continue to learn how to be more loving and mindful and intentional about enjoying this life, whatever it looks like.
I can make sure the people I love know just how wonderful I think they are. I can let go of pressure about how things should be and embrace what is. I can be proud of who I am, which is so much more important than racing toward having a story to tell people about what I am doing. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be and to love. I am not rushing my healing or my life.
A few days ago this quote from Morgan Harper Nichols landed in my email, and I knew deeply that this truth, these words, this acceptance — is the best birthday present I have ever received:
Let this be what you’re grateful for: the opportunity to keep going. To keep waking up each morning with the freedom to try again.”
So, thank you, 27. I am so grateful to you for bringing me the best gift in this world; another year of life, and a full heart that can welcome it completely. For 365 chances to try again while living through 26, and for the freedom to keep going and keep trying again as I walk into another year of life. I can’t wait to see what we get up to together on our next trip around the sun.
Words will always fall short in describing what an honor it is to share and learn with you.
Thank you all for your continued support ♥️ xx