Most of you know that I am usually behind on blogging. This post about turning 40 is no exception! My birthday was January 5th and here we are in April when I'm finally blogging about it. Oh well, better late than never, right?
I know that turning 40 is something a lot of people fear. I did not. Don't get me wrong, when I was turning 30 I had all sorts of friends asking me if I was ok, was I freaking out? I kept saying I was fine and then two weeks before my birthday I completely lost my marbles! Why didn't I feel that way turning 40? I have some theories because if nothing else, I've become more reflective in my life ;) So here is the long reflection...
When I was turning 30 I was very unhappy with myself. I was severely overweight, I was in a miserable soul sucking job, I was tired, cranky and frazzled much of the time. I'm not saying I was unhappy with my life but I was absolutely unhappy with myself. A couple of years later great things started to happen. I "retired" from my miserable job, we had Alyssa, I joined PTO, I loved being home with the kids and taking care of everyone. All those things brought me great happiness but I still didn't like myself for a myriad of reasons. When I was 35 I decided to join Weight Watchers and I lost over 90 lbs over a period of 2 years. I am still working on my goals because I did learn that for me, managing weight is a forever process. I think that losing that weight also helped me lose a lot of emotional baggage once I realized WHY I ate like I did and I started to like myself more. 36 rolled around and I decided that looking back, I had kept myself from doing a lot of things because I worried about what other people would think. I finally realized that it's ok for me to want things for ME and that if those things make other people uncomfortable, that's their problem. I got my boob job and my first tattoo within 6 months of each other ;) Two things that I had wanted since I was about 15 years old...it's never too late to accomplish the things you want for yourself. The more I allowed myself to recognize that it's ok to be yourself and be true to yourself, the happier I was.
There is definite happiness I felt from being married to Shane and having the kids but there is a different happiness I found from myself by finally accepting me for who I am. I don't have to hide what I think will drive people away. I'm not saying that I go out of my way to be obnoxious but I am to the point that I realize I'd rather you hate me for being my true self than to love me for pretending to be something I'm not. I still pause from time to time...wondering, if I say or do this or that will it drive someone away? Would it keep this person from being my friend? So far, the answer is no. I feel lighter. Not just because I've lost over 100 lbs by now but because I keep reminding myself not to weigh myself down with unnecessary crap.
Another thing I have struggled with for a great portion of my life is religion. I was raised Catholic even though I never felt comfortable in church. My mom had me when she was in high school and raised me on her own until she married my (step) dad when I was 14. In elementary school the kids at church were mean to me. Some of them insisted that if my mom wasn't divorced then I HAD to be adopted. Some said that there was no way I could have been baptized Catholic if I had no dad. The ugliness escalated from there. Looking back, I realize that most of those kids probably didn't have those thoughts on their own, they were just regurgitating what they heard from their parents. Regardless, that's not an overly Christian attitude. Or is it? Is that the problem? Faith is just not something that I come by naturally. I also don't come by it forcefully. Believe me, I've tried. I did take a break from church from high school to around age 32. Shane and I decided that baptizing the kids would be a good idea. We joined the church he had grown up in and I jumped in with both feet. I thought that surrounding myself with good church people would help me find my faith. I even taught Sunday School to Pre K/K kids for 2 years. I hoped that some of their faith would rub off on me but at the end of the day...it did not. So here I was, struggling to feel what I just don't because atheist can be such an ugly word. Since losing my father in law in 2012 I would have to say that atheist is the word that best describes me. Maybe Agnostic...I just don't know at this point. A label seems pointless in some ways. I do not believe in God. There, I said it...in black and white. Maybe there will come a day...a moment that I will feel differently but for now, this is where I am in my life. Once I was able to admit to myself my feelings, I felt a burden lifted off of me. I felt peace in my heart. I do not strive to be a good person because a bible tells me to. I don't do it to assure myself a place in heaven. I do it because it is the right thing to do, it feels good to help people and to be caring. There is so much ugliness in the name of religion that it completely turned me off to the idea of pursuing it any further. I have often said that Christianity would be great if it weren't for the Christians. Yes, I know..right now someone has their dander up. I know not all Christians are that way but I encounter more who are than not. I just hope that if nothing else, our kids will look back and say that we did good things for people we loved and people we didn't even know.
So there it is, part of what 40 years on the planet has taught me. We lost Mike at age 60. I will not complain about getting older, it is a gift. I am more thankful than ever for every day I wake up, period. That's one more day I get to participate in which, oddly enough, is something Mike used to say when I'd ask how is day was going. "I was able to participate." And sometimes, that's enough.
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