Anything can become monumental and life-turning. In devastation, comes triumphs. In failures and falls, comes great new heights. There are pivotal moments that are walking testaments to a change in the planned course. Life can bring us to our knees and it is exactly how it's supposed to be.
I can say one of the biggest moments that changed my life was becoming a mom. Not because it was peachy and cute and sweet every waking moment. But it was (and still at times) hard. The kind of unexpected hardships that, thankfully, were (and continue to be) blessings. I did not want to be a mom, in fact, I wasn't a huge fan of kids. I'm the oldest, the stepchild, the one produced by two teenagers still very much in high school and the only blonde-haired-blue-eyed girl of all my siblings - on both sides. When I look back at my family life growing up, I can see grand moments of adventure, trips to the sea and mountains, big family gatherings, loud chatter, and wanna-be comedian parents (a dad who would profess his "cooking" skills while juggling plates and a mom who had the most hilarious and scary April Fool's jokes every year - that is just one of the parenting sides). I also see struggle; not much money for freedom, ache, mental illness, exhaustion, yelling, attending schools in not the greatest neighborhoods, and the endless feeling of isolation and separation juggling two sets of parents/households.
I found out I was pregnant a week after I was partially laid off from a job (that I hated). Most of us have had these kinds of jobs, the ones that keep you in a zombie state so you can have a little extra after rent and decent healthcare coverage. There was nothing thrilling or exciting to go to an office and do the same damn thing everyday but I was loyal and a hard worker-bee so it came as a shock to get kicked off the block and have the comfort paid health insurance whisked away in a two week's notice. Needless to say, I did not go back to that same job after having our son. And it made no sense to hop back into that job just to pay for childcare.
We were faced with multiple acts of clawing our way through life. Those early days with a beautiful infant in tow, living down to every penny, no income from my end, a new business with very little income, a giant theft in the already struggling business, and my depression. It is like having the deepest, darkest secret wanting to die and putting on a happy, new mom face. How could this experience cause me to be someone so ugly? I would ask out of defeat. Often times, Steve picking me off the couch to bathe or forcing a plate of food all the while caring for our infant who we loved and adored. I don't know how we kept on but we did and we still do. So many acts, choices, decisions (some not of choosing). I reconnected with my yoga practice. Having a loving, chosen sister to help us during hard times. A voice that confides, she too, suffers from pain and depression so deep. Friends helping you pack or babysit or just there to bring over beer. Our son being the most magical ray of light and easy-going baby and sleeper. Steve working his knuckles to the bone to get his (he)art out there through woodworking and providing for our family. The will and drive to move through tears, shame, darkness, and so much guilt. I think this is where the saying comes in, "where there is a will, there is a way." Isn't that the truth? Somehow, some way we trudged along. I think you have to walk in mud. And we still walk in mud, sometimes it feels scarce but there is always just enough. Always.
I think when one becomes a parent him/herself is when we truly have compassion for our upbringing and our parents. Not to say it changes the past or excuses behavior, but there's an understanding that takes place. I understand that growing up was and is every bit as meaningful and at times, trying and testing but real and I am grateful, it was meant to be as it was because it will be what it is.
Not all of the details are important, but they mean a little something to me. Everything that has moved me closer to my Soul and purpose has been unplanned, painful, and a real fucking struggle. I literally lost myself in order to find myself, and maybe someday it will happen that way again, but I know through intention and love and forgiveness, it is the way of the Soul. I have learned that pain is one lively, fucking tool in courage and bravery.
I was meant to be a mother. I was meant to be a teacher. I was meant to write and give back through such experiences. I was meant to share with my eyes from behind a lens. I know now that life moves in action but the greatest adventure is the one we don't necessarily plan...but we keep on and we keep living in our truth; the highs, lows, ups, downs, and the in-betweens.
Sometimes it's clarity that comes and sometimes it's confusion that arises by releasing a heavy sigh or gulp in my throat or the belly ache of sharing something so raw. And that's okay.
Like Cheryl Strayed says, "Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here."