No Labels Please

Life has been hectic! A good, busy hectic!

I have taken time to enjoy life with my family. Since my last post, my family and I went on a white water rafting trip, we have braved roller coasters, I got to ride shotgun on the back of a motorcycle, we have zip-lined across tree tops, and I have lounged in pajamas all day with my family. It has been a mixed bag of good, adrenaline infused fun. I haven’t had this much excitement and activity in years!

Recently, I have had the opportunity to make new friends, re-establish old relationships and evaluate my current circle of friends. I am realizing that there are many things that I have been denying myself. Now that I am taking time to do things that I am enjoying, I am realizing how much I have been missing.

My husband and best friend have noticed and felt the shift in my newfound adventurous spirit. I think that they think that I am going through some kind of a mid-life crisis. I am calling an ‘enjoy-my-life-crisis’.

 I am tired of the same routine of being an employee, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. Nowhere in that sentence is there a label that describes the most important aspect of any person. The label that is missing is the label of ME.

I haven’t made the time to find the things that make me happy. But I have made tons of time to do all the things that I felt that I needed to do, even if I didn’t necessarily want to do. I find myself constantly doing things that I feel that I am obligated to do – even if I really don’t want to. I do things to make other people happy, but I rarely do the things that make me happy. Why do we (women) do this to ourselves? I know that in my case, it is because I feel that I need to be the best person for anyone in my life. I am always nicest and accommodating person to everyone. To everyone, except to myself.

I lost myself. I know it happens all the time and to millions of people. So this is just my story. My struggle to be the kind of woman I know I can be.

Losing myself in the pain, grief and misery of being betrayed by those closest to me, my husband and my sister, has actually helped me find myself and rebuild the deeper parts of myself. There is a saying that I heard my mom has say over the years. I always thought it was one of her pearls of wisdom that she imparted to us: “you come into this world alone. You will leave this world alone.” She would follow this up with by quoting philosopher, Albert Camus: Do not walk behind me; I may not lead. Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

I believe in this quote and feel that it is so relevant to my relationship with my husband. For too long, I have followed. Not because he is demanding or tyrannical. Because he is none of those things. I followed because I thought that was what I needed to do in order to have a happy marriage. Even if it didn’t make me happy.

Now I realize that my unhappiness contributed to the unhappiness in our marriage.

There are still some days when I think about what happened two years ago, and it makes me sad. It makes me angry. It is very easy to get lost in that despair of ‘woe is me.’ Look at me. Look at what has happened to my life; to my marriage. But I will not let this event define me. I don’t like being defined by my situation. This is something that I have never subscribed to.

When I was in college, I visited with extended family until I could get my life established in a new state, a new town, a school. During my first few months in my new home, I landed a job, enrolled in classes, got a car and was eager to make friends. In attempt to get out and make new friends, I had asked my extended family if they knew of any clubs/bars that I could go to hang out. The head of the household told me that he did not think it was a good idea for me to go out to a club or a bar alone. I asked, “Well, why not?” His response enraged me straight through to my core. He said “I don’t want you to go out alone, because there is no one to take care of you while you are out there.” I was flabbergasted. I was appalled and deeply offended. He insinuated that I was helpless. I remember my face glared bright red and through clenched teeth I retorted “I don’t NEED to be taken care of. I can take care of myself. I am not helpless!”

He could not understand why I was so enraged by his response. I refused to be defined as helpless just because I was alone and did not yet have any friends. I went out that weekend, against his better judgment and did what I set out to do. I proved that I was not helpless.

So, without labeling myself, I am defining myself. I am being ME.

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