I've never been very good at following rules. I've made a habit of never being part of the norm... and for a very, very long time that was more of a defense mechanism than anything else. I have always been too loud or too quiet and much too intense for many people. I cared deeply about how others saw me and for a long time that led me to create a carefully constructed wall... a persona, really. It doesn't help that I have a deep rooted need to please people and for the most part really want everyone to like me. I still, to this day, will do almost anything for the laugh. When someone -anyone- criticized or mocked me, a sickening lurch would begin in my belly and it would be all I could think about. I let the opinions of others (percieved or otherwise) influence how I felt about myself... How I SHOULD be this way or that - less needy, cooler, thinner, smarter, more attractive, less passionate, more happy go lucky. From my will-not-be-tamed curly mop down to my bilbo baggins-esque toes, I longed to be someone better than me. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but as I grew up I carefully concealed it, embracing the ideal of a cold heart, protected from rejection & humiliation.
One huge, beautiful and painfully wrought gift from my relationship with Jason was the slow realization that I could be myself and he would still love me. I could be imperfect, or have an opposing viewpoint or do something really stupid and yes, he would be irritated or disappointed, but he could still love me. It took several years into our marriage to get comfortable with the idea that we could argue and it was ok for me to disagree. I'm never going to be anyone's idea of perfection.... because that does not exist. As a 19 year old wife and then a 21 year old mother, I was paralysed with the fear that I was just not good enough and I will be honest... I still struggle with feeling ok about myself. That I may, in fact, add value to someones life and that they might actually want me around. In the first few years of our marriage, a common argument from Jason was that I was not honest enough. I would be angry or unhappy about something and instead of addressing it I would push it down, letting it fester and expecting my husband and friends to somehow read my mind, instead of expressing myself, I would shut down until I exploded with rage... letting old hurts and dissapointments ruin friendships and endangering my marriage.
It is something I have worked steadily on... finding out who I am and what I truly am made of... the bad as well as the good. As I entered my late twenties and early thirties I've become much more open... to making friends (who might one day hurt me or, as I have recently learned, be the rocks I need to lean on through the storm), to trying things outside of my comfort zone, to embracing my own particular quirks. I will never have a perfect body and I have been described as "exotic looking" far more often than beautiful. But when I look in the mirror now (yes, even naked) I have pride in my reflection. I have strong arms and hands. I will never be a great dancer, but, damnit, I love to dance and really? Who cares? I struggled as a mother and now I am struggling even more as a single mother... but I'm doing it. I feel a powerful need to compartmentalize, to put away my grief for awhile and to experience the freedom of being on my own. I want to spend my days with my kids and then have the nights to myself without feeling guilty that I am abandoning them or that I should be sitting at home alone, crying. I suppose there will be people who still expect a widow, no matter what age, to don black and remain isolated and alone to grieve "correctly"... but, that isn't me. And it is the last thing my husband wanted for me. I am the ONLY one who will be able to keep some semblance of balance and positivity in my life and so I'm doing just that. Letting go, just a little bit. Letting a little sunshine in.