Today is my 33rd birthday. I’ve never been one to loathe aging. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I’ve always viewed each birthday as a personal new year; a time to reflect and show gratitude.
Between my divorce, navigating life as a single parent, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, and my sister’s car accident, the last year has been absolutely brutal. Without a doubt, the most devastating challenges I have had to face thus far.
For years I was the queen of keeping a cool exterior. I viewed showing any kind of emotion, or asking for help as signs of weakness. Mind you, not when other people sought my council. No, it was only weakness if I required help.
I was a rock. I could handle whatever blows life was going throw. And I was going to do it by myself.
This mentality seemed to serve me well through the first 30 years of life. It wasn’t until my marriage started to unravel, and I had completely lost myself in the roles of mother and wife, that my no emotion, no help, rock mentality started taking its toll, and some destructive behavior started becoming a daily practice.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brene Brown
I had never learned the tools to cope with big emotions because I had never allowed myself to ever feel them. I shoved them into the dark depths, where they would never be seen (of felt).
I knew in the midst of coming to terms with my decision to file for divorce, and having just learned of my mother’s cancer, that this was a pivotal moment in my life. This was not something I was going to be able to send into the labyrinth, never to be dealt with. The pain, fear, and anger I felt was overwhelming. Consuming. And I realized I only had two options; let it break me down, or break me open.
I chose the latter.
We are not what happens to us, we are how we choose to respond to what happens to us.
We go through the tough stuff to grow and be better; because there will come a day when someone is struggling and are in need of the tools you’ve learned, and you will be able to provide them.
33 is a new year. There will be more pain (such is life), but there’s also going to be a whole lot of vulnerability, joy, and mindfulness.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” - Brene Brown