What did I learn?
I learned that I am human. I have limitations. I make mistakes. I hurt. Despite that, I’m actually kind of alright.
I learned that I need people. My self-imposed exile, my determination to distance myself from personal relationships, from caring too much, from needing anyone – anaesthetising my ego from being damaged by those who would leave, was in the end, futile. I learned that I need family. I also learned that I have it. Despite my best efforts, I am loved. Whole-heartedly, constantly, overwhelmingly loved. How fortunate am I?
I learned of strength. Not the indomitable persona and over-confidence that is my façade, working to hide my lack of self-worth. I learned of the kind of strength that only comes with exposing your soul with utter truth. Letting people see the naked vulnerability, the failings, the exhaustion. My strength came with an acceptance that I can’t do it all. I can ask for help. I am not always right. And that’s ok.
I learned how fragile health is and of my own physical limitations. I learned how to stop and allow myself time to heal; to listen to what my body needs; to look after it as the precious vehicle it is.
I learned so much about being a mother. I accepted that I did the best I could and that was more than good enough. I learned that parenting is 50% love and constancy and 50% luck. I learned the true meaning of unconditional love, of real sacrifice, of selflessness, and it feels so incredibly good. Most of all, I learned how to forgive myself.
I grew my soul! I read books I never thought I’d read, watched terrible movies. I read poems until my heart hurt. I cried over newly discovered records; I shared music that I love too. I immersed myself in galleries and libraries and art-house cinemas and museums and teashops. I kissed in lifts; I took photographs; I discovered salted caramel chocolate. I met so many extraordinary people. I met Joe. I wrote poems. I wrote poems! I wrote!
I learned of love; of infatuation; of desire and of need. I finally understand what it is that I want. I know what I want! I learned that it doesn’t matter how much love you offer another, how much time you give, how much trust you inspire, or how much of your soul you lay bare – you can’t make them love you back. And when they don’t, you have to break your own heart by walking away.
I learned that the universe is more connected than I could even begin to perceive. I learned that I am the universe. I am something the whole universe is doing in the same way a wave is something the whole ocean is doing. I am made of the earth and of the stars and that blows my mind. I learned to make my incredibly insignificant existence matter to as many lives as I can. To inspire…to enrich… to challenge. To love and to be loved.
I learned about beginnings and endings; that life is not so linear and literal. Sometimes endings are just pauses. Sometimes they are the real beginning. Sometimes though, you just have to accept that the end is in fact the end because the alternative is just too painful to endure.
I learned to be kinder to myself.
I learned that I am enough. Just as I am.