They always tell you that the second year is going to be the toughest one but I denied it.
I think I just exited the denial stage of grief. After 19 months? Seems absurd.
But I suppose the second year is where your new normal is finally instilled and slaps you right in the face. The first year is learning to cope and building a bridge brick by brick to get through each day. By year two you have built this new life for yourself which no longer includes the person you once had. In that second year it truly feels real for the first time, that the person you lost will never see each new milestone, birthday, bad day, again. This is the second birthday without my mother and if I compare where my life is this year versus my 21st birthday, it looks 100% different. Different friends, different family members, different job, different lifestyle. My life no longer holds the hollow gap of her presence and I think that came as a shock to me.
I finally accept that she is gone, I am finally grieving. What stage is next? Acceptance?
As my 22nd birthday rolled in it brought a new wave of emotions with it. First, being that my mother is yet again not here to shower me in love and attention. Second, numerous revelations about my life. I truly believed that I was striving forward and paving a life that I was sure about. Until I found myself on a railway crossing, not sure how to outrun the train coming barrelling straight at me. Do I run straight at it and defeat it? Will it bulldoze me?
I had a great relationship, a perfect career, a new family dynamic. Until I woke up and realized I myself am unwell. I looked in the mirror and no longer saw the Bianca I recognized, I saw a shell of who I think I am but a head filled with confusion and diluted with thoughts of what life should look like. I filled my life with lust and excitement while my soul screamed for self-love and compassion. I decided that I need to be my priority, that without self-love there is no self-worth. I cannot accept someone else's love until I love myself. And frankly, since my mother departed this world I have yet to feel any real surge of emotion. Whether that be sad, happy, mad, anger. The person who loved me the most is no longer here to love me, so I feel undeserving of any other type of love. I did not allow myself to feel anything, I thought it was a coping mechanism. I thought I was indestructible. I lost the most important person in my life, anything else that was bad would not affect me because I have been through the worst already. Oh silly little girl, you were so wrong...
I built my own great wall of china around my heart. A wall that could be travelled by many but unaccessible to myself. I allowed myself to expend my love and tenderness to everyone that needed an ear, a hug, a friend. But turned on myself when I needed her most. This wasn't done on purpose. I truly believed that my grieving had come to an end, I thought I held the key to life because I could tell and re-tell the story about the end and I could support my loved ones through their own hard times. People would turn to me in times of need because I was coping 'so well'. I guess it appeared that way, maybe it was all a facade.
But when I took a step back, I noticed that I suppressed my grieving. By telling myself that I am strong, by proving a point that I could be okay. Proving this point became a challenge to me. How well could I do in life that it will shock everyone to the bone?
I began to skip by milestones in life and not celebrate my achievements. All because my cheerleader wasn't here. And simply I knew that she would not be proud. Yes, okay, of course my mother would be happy that I have become independent and financially stable on my own. But she had this plan for my life and I chose not to follow it and to make my own path, that she would not approve of. So when people tell me 'she would be so proud' I know thats a load of crap. So instead of being proud of myself I feel guilt I suppose? Guilt for knowing her plan for me was safe and I chose a path wildly less travelled. Guilt for not following my passion using my University English Degree and instead luring myself into a career that used so many different skills I had in my arsenal aside from my degree. Following the path that was surely not laid out nice and neatly for me but thrilled me in a way I had not felt in almost two years.
Milestones this year:
Published my first book
Expanded my personal training business
Got my first full-time job
Accepted my second full-time job
Returning to school to further my career
Moved out on my own
Bought a new car
Training for a half-marathon
Let's talk about the latter.
I survived. That's a victory. Yet, I failed myself.
I tell myself constantly that I should be proud of myself for striving for a new life after heartbreak. I had the perfect excuse to wallow away and turn to a negative life course. But I chose to survive. This is how I was raised, that when life knocks you on your ass 100 times you stand up 101 times.
This is me standing up 101 times. Fighting in my own corner to be a better version of myself.
I spoke with a friend the other week about all these thoughts in my head and was in turn gifted a book, Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. And let me tell you, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I wouldn't consider it a self-help book, but more of a self actualization book*. Proving to you that you are more than your circumstances and when you realize that then you will succeed. One line particularly stuck out to me, she quoted another book she read which stated that "Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." I think that is the mindset I have held the last 1.5 years but with a negative connotation to it. Instead of making peace and working through sticky situations I had a tendency to THINK I had accepted loss and rather continue to distract myself with something shiny and new instead of soul searching.
She said again in the book, "the most powerful words in the universe are the words you say to yourself,"and to be honest, I haven't been connected to my thoughts and emotions lately. There has been a disconnect between my heart and my head. My mouth says words before my heart and head even have time to process them, let alone talk to each other. Yes I literally mean I don't talk to myself, you know... using that little voice in your head that you are using to read this to yourself.
She elaborated on this notion using the concept of fear. Fear commonly being an innate internal feeling your body uses to speak to you. It is either telling you DANGER or DO IT. But this is up to you to figure out which path to take, essentially fight or flight. The concept plays on the idea that the more we fear about a specific enterprise the more we entertain that the enterprise is important to us and will be growth (regardless that it hurts in some way). So if you tell yourself that you are not happy in your job and you provide yourself a list of ideas why, then essentially you will be supporting your own enterprise. And to that point, sometimes you choose the wrong path, you misinterpret the signal from your internal fear. And that is something you must learn to accept, it is only human nature to make mistakes and learn from them each time.
Here's to a new year of self growth, focusing on myself and my mental health above all.
* In psychology, self-actualization is achieved when you're able to reach your full potential.