“Every journey begins with a single step.” – Maya Angelou
As I approach my 45th Born Day on April 4th, as always, I’m stopping for a minute, to reflect upon my life’s journey. I’ve thought about my ups and downs. I’ve thought about my highs and lows. I’ve thought about my truth in my journey. I’ve traveled so far, and want to keep traveling upon the road that lies before me. My journey began with a single step towards possibilities, opportunities, and growth. A journey towards freedom and happiness. Just like a passenger who boards a train, my journey has taken me where I need to be.
I remember the complex days of my childhood, teen years, and even some of my adult years. I was that “lucky” kid, so others would say. I was that kid who got everything I ever asked for. I got everything I ever asked for, except a loving and caring family. I grew up in a home without true love shown, and I was always halfway happy at home. On the flipside of this, I was always happy at school. It was there that I felt safe. It was there that I felt loved. Now, as a teacher myself, I keep all of this in mind, when it comes to my classroom. My classroom might be the only place where a child feels love, and school might be the only place where a child feels safe. I make it known to my students that I care, and that I love.
I survived years of abuse from family, which lasted well into my adult years. I finally had the courage to walk away from all of the hurt and dysfunction. I had reached my breaking point. As I sat in my apartment one afternoon and sobbed uncontrollably at the fact that ‘loved ones’ can treat me so bad, I realized that I must take care of my own mental health, and I must ensure my own happiness. After years of trying to love away the pain and fix what was broken, I just became tired. Tired of feeling guilty for wanting to walk away and stay away. Tired of trying to understand. Tired of trying. Tired of hiding. Tired of smiling on the outside, when I didn’t always want to. It’s never been easy living on the other side of love. But the cold world that I lived in never made me bitter. I just kept hoping and wishing that I would be free one day. Free to be me. Free to feel joy. Free to express and receive unconditional love. My heart is in a good place within me now, and has been for quite some time now. I know what love is, by the positive examples of it that I saw elsewhere. And from the poor examples that I was shown, I certainly know what love is not. If I should ever fall in love, my heart’s love will be truly genuine and free flowing.
As life is a journey full of lessons learned and lessons taught, I look back at the trials in my life and praise God that I grew up to become the woman that I am today. In all of my strength, I can stand proud in the mirror and love the person that I see each day. My life is a tale of overcoming obstacles, and not becoming another statistic. My story is not unique. Nor is it uncommon. But this story is mine. It will always be a part of who I am.
No, it wasn’t easy living on the other side of love, but once I knocked down the wall of obstruction, I found out how sweet love and freedom could be. And they taste sweeter each and everyday. I welcome 45 with open arms.