The Revolutionary Act of Liking Myself

It isn’t too often that I feel this way. Especially these last few years. Content. Without need to prove. Whole, grateful, living inside of my own self, not comparing myself to anybody else. To be honest, there is nobody right now that I would rather be, than me. And that is a beautiful thing. It’s taken me half my life to get to this state of mind, this previously foreign yet exotic land as yet unmapped in the terrain of my being. I remember it starting around age 15. The comparison, the self loathing furrowing inward, deeper and deeper. Carving into my heart. I’m not enough. Not enough. Not enough.

Perhaps it’s what age does to a woman, beautifying inwardly those ragged wounds as the wind howls around us, softening the sails of the boat and making them seaworthy. What I mean is, my heart is a weary sailor, and yet after so many years of sailing, I stand weatherworn and proud on the bow. Conqueror of my own pain. Not conqueror of the seas – that would be a foolish soul who believed that is anything but impossible, but victorious at least for a moment – alive – after a dark and terrifying storm.

I could tell you all of the ways I was hurting last year. I could tell you all of the ways I am healed. And yet all I want to say is that life has a way of smoothing the edges, curling back the sharp edges of the paper and softening it all. My hard edges have been worn away. My ego – it remains, but my god it’s not the ego of before. I was 23 when I began writing my blog, exactly 11 years ago, and there is a massive difference between a woman of that age and a woman of mine. The main distinction being that I am a woman.

I was a young woman then, a girl, lusty and wild, erratic and emotional. My goodness I was a force of nature. A tempest, a swarm of bees, an orchid by the lagoon and that dark, dark sea. I have been all of it. Marriage, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, motherhood, moving yet again, and so many more mountains, they have shaped me. Altered me. I have raged against the mirage of my romantic memories. Longing to be back there …. romanticizing those days in New York, those words that would spill out across the page without me. Romanticizing the kind of life I led, the kind of woman I was.

What a funny thing memory is, and our perceptions of ourselves among them. I could tell you a dozen stories of the misery I was in! The longing! The heart break! The suffering! The eternally meagre bank account! Meeting Isaac lifted me up out of the emotional squalor I was dancing in. A 25 year old dancing in a canoe on her own – that was me when he met me. I didn’t know where I was going only that all I had was this one small canoe of myself, my energy, my few books, clothes, passport, tarot cards. I didn’t have much really. But my heart was a wild animal of delight and I couldn’t wait to embrace the future I knew was unraveling before me.

Little did I know that death would touch me, too. A beating heart would join my own in the darkness of my womb – and then disappear seven weeks later. I remember seeing that tiny beating heart, a seven week old embryo, and instantly becoming parents in that hospital in Mount Gambier, Australia. It was another sixteen months before our son would join us and another chapter began. More upheaval. More soul reckoning.

I hardly recognized myself as a mother. Weren’t there any breaks during this job? What had happened to my energy? My joie de vivre, my lust for life, my lustre? There were too many things to do. Mainly, I was haunted by the mountain of reclamation that stood before me. I didn’t want to have to climb it. I knew it would take a long time, and I kind of wished I could just step back through a doorway with my son and be myself again.

But I wasn’t that woman any longer. Just like the little sister who never returned to our lives after becoming the supermodel that she is, my old self was dead. I longed for that old self like someone who had just passed. I grieved her. I held my fists against the sky cursing God or the angels for taking her away from me. I lamented her absence. I tried to woo her back, like a seance or a creepy science experiment. I wanted to resurrect her but I could. not. do. it. She was gone. She is dead.

Her words live on and her spirit lives on inside me. My maiden self. My pre-motherhood lifetime. I know that one day this me will die away too. Renew, rebirth, revise herself. Perhaps with the birth of a second child? Perhaps simply with time? I think I mourned the loss of that particular maiden me because I found her so quixotic, so entrancing, so fun to be inside of. She was, is, a vixen of the night and a fiery sword, a poisonous flower and a medicinal balm. She knows how to drain the poison from her fingers and to transform it into light, into medicine, into sight. Henry Miller taught her that. The first shaman of the alphabet to enter my psyche. I miss him too.

But like all books and authors, it’s easy to visit them any time we need. A book is magic like that – it’s an invisible train to a destination beyond time and space. A portal into the gentle hands of another. For what is writing but holding out our hands in a cup and inviting others to drink from it? We don’t write to write only, we write to be read. We write as an offering to the angels, as an offering to humanity, a plea to connect, deeper, deeper, deeper. To have our thoughts met and understood and received. To be known. We write to be known.

For years as a mother I have resisted calling myself a writer. I have added disclaimers and denied and apologized. But the truth is, I am and always will be, a writer. In an age of Instagram and Amazon, I am still and always will be an old fashioned romantic who prefers pen and paper to a touch screen. I want the scent of copal and the simplicity of watercolors. I want slow and simple. My my my, how delightful it is to be simple. And so this brings me back to my original statement before I went on this walkabout journey past the cactuses of my brain. I am truly content. Amazingly, I don’t know when I have been able to honestly speak this kind of grace and happiness. What more could I ask for?

More of the same thing. I feel so deeply fed, supported, loved and in touch with who I really am, the God essence… It’s a beautiful thing. Heaven knows I was not here last year. Thankfully the stormy seas have calmed and I am a weatherworn sailor who has seen more than she bargained for. The storms are something I could never have forced upon myself, nor did I originally ask for anything like those waves. But I could never take them back. Life is sweeter after so many years of salt water.

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