Happy 42nd Birthday to me

#HappyBirthday to me

This photo was taken 2 years ago on my 40th birthday. Matt and I were in #kailua #hawaii #thebigisland #kailuabeach #kailuakona 

I had a painful abdominal hernia and was scheduled for surgery Jan 2nd, 2015. I was in serious pain and on prescribed heavy duty pain and anti nausea meds.

My health was poor and I vacillated about taking such a major trip before my surgery.  Ultimately I decided to go through with it for 2 reasons: I had the money and I had been wanting to do a 40th birthday trip since my 21st birthday. Originally by my 40th birthday Ameena was supposed to have 5 years of a bachelor’s under her belt. My feeling was if she hadn’t graduated by that time, I was done helping so I was spending that money on myself for a nice 40th birthday trip. 

Before my illness became incapacitating 40 meant a planned return to formal education, completion of my bachelor’s  and start my masters. I want to eventually get my Ph.D. As usual, life had other plans.

I digress which I’m prone to do and allowed to do on today of all days! Anyway, back to my 40th birthday, I didn’t know so much during this trip about what was going on with my health. 
For instance: I didn’t know I was allergic to my pain meds or that I was allergic to the sun. I had never even heard of #dysautonomia much less understand how critical it was for me to stay hydrated and have enough salt. Not to mention the other positive diagnoses and suspected diagnoses since the #dysautonomia diagnosis. I know so much more about what is going on with my health and as a result I can manage fun activities, like this birthday trip with less effort and more fun.

Unfortunately that couldn’t help then since I didn’t yet have diagnoses. Instead, I ended up in the ER our first full day in Hawaii. It felt dramatic I had an episode in the shower and felt traumatized by the fuss of the ER staff. The ER nurse kept trying to get me to name alchol I hadn’t been feeling wwll enough to even sip. Their msi5n concern was prescription pain medicine and was I concerned about addiction.  Not x-ray for the knee I landed on and woke twisted under me. I had to rotate my knee back in place. Which the doctor said wasn’t possible but I now understand to be a part of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome III hypetmobility.

Instead the ER kept treating me for alcohol poisoning which I guess is IV fluids. Matt was frustrated because if I’d been drinking they’d have smelled the alcohol in the vomit I had to save for the staff to look at. Totally disgusting and gross policy though I do understand the policy behind it. Either way the fluids and migraine meds were a miracle. I went home, slept well and woke up on my 40th birthday feeling like new money, crisp, clean, desirable and ready for circulation. 
Matt had already been out and picked out a nice meditation spot on the cliffs. The Big Island is different than other more popular tourist destinations I guess. The access to prime beaches is more limited. Much of the area by our resort was gorgeous black lava cliffs. December is when the area gets large waves and at different points during our stay the cliffs would be closed due to unsafe waves.

The morning of my birthday Matt showed me the path from the resort, which was huge and confusing those first few days, past the pool to the lava cliffs. They were such that you could climb or walk out and sit on the edge. The waves would crash into the caves beneath the ledge I was sitting on. It was beautiful to look at and the sound of the water was so relaxing. We meditated, talked and made plans for the next 10 days, took pics and video.

Then I was strangely struck by the desire to climb out on the lava cliffs. I ended up climbing out on the rock shelf that I used as my meditation focal point. It was a bit of a hike and in hindsight I’m impressed at my stamina and recovery. My legs got all bruised but it was exhilarating. The final rock I’m standing on for the picture hurt my feet. During the guiding tour later that week I would discover those rocks are called ‘aha’ rocks. Coincidence? I think not.

I promised myself that morning on that uncharacteristic climb on those lava rocks that  40 meant my life was finally and at long last about me. From that day forward i vowed to allow *myself* space before everyone else. 

This thought frightened me. I had never as an adult made the bulk of my serious choices with my happiness as the primary goal. Even in college I picked a major that wouldn’t require too much outside of class, like internships, because my hands were quote busy with being a full time single parent and college student. I needed to work as much as little as possible for as much as possible-which pretty much meant part time. My daughter’s father has always been in a non factor in her care, as far as financially, emotionally or even to be counted on to keep her so I could work/ go to school/ better both of our lives.  This impacted every aspect of my life, even where obvious overlap doesnt exist. When it came to choosing a major I didn’t have the luxury of perusing my interests, editing/ fiction writing. I had to take classes that weren’t too demanding so I could spread myself as thin as I needed to in order to get by. I wasn’t even trying to flourish at that point. Just exist and raise my daughter was enough for me.

Since I had a baby at 18 and was a single mom, this was literally the first time in my adult life I could put myself first. It’s felt like a long time coming.

I wasn’t sure I could do it. People pleasing is a hard habit to break I was raised with the belief that ‘people pleasing’ is polite. Giving a voice to your honest  emotions, feelings and experiences is not.

It’s been harder than I thought but oh so worth it. 

It’s also been messier than thought but that’s OK too.

I’m abandoning the idea that I have to do or say the ‘right/correct’ thing.

Now I try to be authentic and answer from my gut and heart. It’s been a struggle at times to even figure out what my ‘authentic’ gut and heart reaction were.  Yet that too has gotten better with practice and time. 

I’m proud to say that though I haven’t 100% kept that vow, I have kept it 100% when it mattered. 

I have become adept at protecting my ‘space’, literally and figuratively.

As a result my soul has nurtured and grown. I found the *self* I lost all those years ago. Buried in a never ending life of work, motherhood, career and family/community expectations. 

For the first time in my life I feel free.

I thought it would narrow my life to focus on myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’m discovering or rediscovering so much about who I am how I think. My political views and ‘religious’ have changed drastically and dramatically.

Everyday I’m getting closer to speaking my truth in the moment, no matter the circumstances and consequences. 

It’s so empowering.

So far my early 40’s authentic really years of intense self exploration, evaluation and altering of definitions that impact how I navigate life. 

I’m also able to identify and own more of my mistakes without threatened, self conscious or belittled.

At long last I care less and often not at all what others think of me. Even loved ones.

My life has expanded to such a place I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I’m excited to get there and enjoying the journey.


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