About seven years ago, I was buried.
Buried under responsibilities and change and feeling so not very good at what I was doing (which wasn’t even what I wanted to be doing even though I once thought it was) and exhaustion that made me slightly insane.
When I was fairly certain I was going to explode at any moment, I threw my kids at someone and ran to a place that has helped me in the past, despite not knowing anyone there and never having been there before: a yoga studio I had seen the next town over. I just went. Poof. No asking people about it, not knowing anything at all. Drive. Park. Enter.
It was blessedly intimate and smelled of herbs and felt just right. I could breathe, despite my racing head and sweaty palms.
I unrolled my mat onto the floor. Everyone had friendly smiles, but remained quiet. No one demanded anything of me. I probably would have said something quite unladylike and stormed off, if they had. I was that close to cracking. I had seams. I could feel them. They were ragged and ached of disappointment.
I closed my eyes.
We hit and held our poses, we stretched, we strained, we focused, we cleared our heads, we sweat, we moved as one, then we stopped.
At the end, the instructor had us lie in corpse pose, which is flat on our backs, arms by our sides (a pose I have fallen asleep in on many occasions, but not this time even though I was so painfully sleep-deprived). Then she walked through the dark room, dabbing a soothing oil on our temples, quietly placing something on the floor next to each mat.
The lights came back on, and I began packing up. I saw she had put colorful note cards by each person, and from what I could tell, everyone’s had a different message.
I didn’t read mine until I got in my car. But when I did, I cried.
I cried because I was not, at that moment, who I used to be or who I was supposed to be, and felt terrible about it. I cried because this total stranger reminded me to be patient. To reprioritize and refocus and raise my kids and keep on moving because there are so many stages in life, so many weeks in our years, so many minutes in our days, that we have to know that not all of them will be on a straight and narrow path to our happiness, our dreams, our goals, our joys.
I couldn’t be everyone’s everything all the time. And yes, I include myself in that sentence.
Slowly, steadily, I let go of the pressures I put on myself, resentments that I now see were frivolous, and disappointments. I was not done yet. I was NOWHERE NEAR done yet. Hopefully there would be time to get to where I wanted to be as a person, wife, mother, friend, and everything else.
I let things go that weren’t good for me, and trusted that what I needed would come when I was ready for it. All while keeping that notecard tucked inside my wallet to remind me that happiness, the ME, the LIFE I needed, was coming.
Did I still work toward it?
Of course I did.
But I checked my priorities, my wellness, my daily life before I’d do so. I had to take care of myself before I could take care of others. And those others needed to be taken care of to a certain point before I could release the grip and move more of a focus onto myself.
Today, seven years later, I turned 40.
I trusted that what I needed would come, and it has begun—as promised.
My kids are older, more secure in themselves and prepared with the lessons I wanted them to learn about life. My husband and I are no longer drowning in parents-of-two-really-young-kidness. They are mid-sized people now, funny contributors to household conversation, watching their parents actively do what it takes to make a lasting marriage succeed. We are a family of four personalities in it together, trying and winning and failing and then doing better next time. We’re all keeping one another in check while making one another feel loved.
I am doing a job I love love love so very much. I do not hesitate to call myself a writer. I can’t not write, and now I get to paid to do it. It’s laughable, how happy I am with what I do, but I work hard to make sure I continue to deserve it. That note card hangs in my home office, still as beautiful and important to me while covered with the wrinkles of time.
It took years, but I wrote and finished a novel that is so many pieces of me, and have faith that it will, one day, find its way onto bookshelves and into the hands of the kids, the teenagers, the people who need to get lost in the world that has lived inside my head. This head has spent a lifetime dreaming, creating, escaping, and thriving, and my book is evidence of that. I will be patient, for I believe some day someone will find it as special as I do, so I can share it with those people who need to read it.
There is more, too, out there for me. I can feel it. Happiness and opportunity and potential even I don’t know about yet. It’s exciting. Crazily invigorating and exciting.
And so I keep moving forward, still, checking my priorities, my wellness, my daily life as I do. Riding the ebb and flow of Life’s balance, believing in the treasures small and big that will come my way if I remain patient, give them their time to find me.
I move within their reach, but let them come to me.
And when each of them finally get here, I will be ready.