Owning my story.

What can I learn from my life?

As many of my days are spent reflecting and writing, I stumbled upon something profound today.  Many of the things I grew up most ashamed of are the things I am most proud of.  Being vulnerable is not easy in our “you must have it all together, world.”  I am still a work in progress and have much to learn and discover.  But how to clean up my life’s psychological and emotional messes became my purpose, and finding a safe passage out of Numbville, as I like to call it.  An internal fictional town I had created as a haven when life and living got unbearable.  After my adored Dad died when I was eleven years old, I floundered in my thoughts, analyzing each stage of my life: how to act, what to say, and where to start.

I opted to share my “dad diary” on a larger platform in hopes of helping heal myself through self-study and introspection but also creating a vulnerable space of sharing my flaws and flailing for others to use what I went through as motivation to “walk through” their struggles to find strength on the other side of possible their fictional towns through heartfelt storytelling.  Honestly, this has been an attempt to make sense of my hurt and anger.  The only way through pain, I learned early on, was to feel it, then puncture a hole directly into its middle and walk or run through it tall.  The unknown other side ended up not as intimidating as I had imagined.

As a curious child, laying in the grass watching cumulus clouds, which looked like oversized cotton balls pass, was one of my favorite pastimes.  Their captivating patterns and formations left me in awe, and to date when, I admire their beauty at an elevated level. At the same time, in an airplane, I am still mesmerized by how they streak across the sky, yet we know a limited amount about their existence.  As I think back, it is and continues to be a contemplative way to connect with nature, disconnect from the day, and recognize a visible mass bigger than me. My curiosity has not left as an adult, and I ponder the unknown, visibly and within. 

The last fifty years, messy and winding, have caused me to feel numb or emotionally depleted. This excursion in emptiness continues to teach me relationships and life are complex. I am still attempting to grasp the concept that love contains loss – and how both ideas are simply woven together, like light and darkness. All my relations, whether with people, places, or things, have brought me joy and fulfillment, but they also have involved pain when they change or end.

My journey in life and within the pages of this book I am attempting to write emulates this. I am transcending the unknown but placing myself in specific times and reflecting on what has taken place to learn from my life, which involves understanding my emotions, relationships, accomplishments, and setbacks.  I want to share my mysteries with my Dad and use all these lessons I learned to make informed decisions, hoping to lead a more fulfilling life. 

Sharing with you all my ups and downs, twists and turns – and zig zags is a way for me to acknowledge my role in life, forgive myself, have compassion for what I did not know, and walk forward into change.  I have determined I would change nothing about my life and its nuances from the past. I am only making sense of my future feelings of discontent so they do not linger, as do all my relationships riddled with loss or resentment. 

“My self” has been a changing construct, transcending times and places.  Merging that younger, aggressive, adaptive child who struggles with injustice into my mature, forgiving, feisty adult self while attempting to penetrate her protective shield of personal matters while being authentic has not been for the faint of heart; many moments left me emotionally exhausted and ready to run away.  Journaling has allowed me to break it all open and understand my many mental variables.  I want to use my years right and time correctly in the next season of my life.  The first fifty years gave me insight into how I want the next to look.

As I fully disclose my entanglement and empowered journey out of Numbville through my diary entries, I have learned losses of a larger sense, such as personal identity, loss of community, and loss of life, all become muddled. The grieving of each, coupled with tons of tears and tracking down the why, have returned me to my center. I am only now beginning to understand the necessity of learning how to hold it all differently—embracing the notion that “I can and will” was my biggest challenge. 

Initially, the project was a coming-of-age story not meant for the masses but only for me and the season of my life, which was 2012, when I began dissecting myself.  In 2021, I spent 558 days in a doctoral program studying the transmission of trauma within intergenerational identity.  A study of self, of a very complicated, multilayered, beautiful mess, which has been chronicled in the following pages together with the guidance of my trusted therapist, bringing yet another professional point of view for another time. 

Humans have been telling stories and studying the behaviors tucked within as long as there has been language to say to them and actions to analyze.  Storytelling is our most fundamental way of communicating.  Every story has a connection of cause and effect.  My storytelling in these pages has cracked me open and pieced me back together again.  There are moments where the painful, hard stuff brought shame, and past hurt resurfaced but appeared with clarity where it had been cloudy for years. 

In my life, I continue to learn valuable lessons, gain personal insights, and develop a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me as I reflect on each decade of my life with Tristen, my trusted therapist and friend.  All my positive and challenging experiences and identifying patterns of my behavior connect the dots of why, along with my strengths and growth areas. Armchair analyzing myself and others in my family has brought various universal themes that impact many: death, divorce, domestic abuse, and depression.  Then unwanted others appeared: abandonment, mental manipulation, narcissism, injustice, and most importantly, how to reconcile resentment and anger.

If I don’t search, I fail to find answers for advancement. Generational change is dramatic for every generation. I am continually feeling my way through, unlearning, and relearning new ways to be the best version of myself.  I want to rethink our families and futures and provide my journey as a blueprint for my present and future self and others who wish to have a handheld compass to peek at now and then.  Personal paradigms look different for each of us.  I want to label and learn from each, embrace and empower myself, not to mention create a blueprint for where I have been and where I am now. 

Dissecting each chapter of my life with my friend and therapist, Tristen, has offered unique lessons and contributed to my growth, my children, and those around me.  My childhood was abrupt, but for a short time, it taught me about innocence and curiosity.  Adolescence brought additional challenges and self-discovery.  Young adulthood provided me the space to hone independence and responsibility, with the later stages of my life presenting wisdom and reflection.  Embracing each decade and phase helped me to relish each moment and its meaningful journey.

My biggest takeaway has been gaining the power to learn from my past and present and grow through them, which will ultimately shape my future more intentionally and empowered.  Solving my intricate involvement living in Numbville involved many hidden meanings, and figuring out why was sometimes challenging to comprehend.  It was vital as I lived into the answers of existing in a rewarding life by resolving past pain and taking responsibility for the young girl who grew up into a woman unable to feel and experience life around her due to circumstances and choices.  A personal transformation, emotionally detangling and distancing from the adaptive child version of herself to the wise adult who survived situations and challenging life moments but still felt her way through them.

The stories I share are meant to enlighten, empower, and illuminate.  Any nuggets of information are intended to liberate and level the playing field, making it possible for you to use my journey out of Numbville as a template should you find yourself in a similar space. By owning my story, I acknowledged my past without judgment and recognized how it has shaped me into who I am today. By opening myself to love and deep connections, I have exposed myself to the possibility of experiencing loss and heartache.  Yet, as I continue to understand and make sense of this duality with the help of many, I appreciate the beauty of love while preparing myself for the challenges that can come with it.

Edmund Hillary, mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist, shrewdly scribbled after his quest to the peak of Mt. Everest, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

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