Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What I Know For Sure

Today is my 31st Birthday. My year as a 30 year old had its fair share of ups and downs. The year truly felt like a journey. On the journey, I had to do a lot of soul searching and self discovery. I'm not done with all that quite yet, but I feel closer than I did at this time last year. My year as a 30 year old was unforgettable. So I thought I would write about my year in the style of Oprah Winfrey. Each month on the back cover of her O Magazine, Oprah writes about "what she knows for sure." I can honestly say I have learned a few things since my last birthday and there are some more things that "I know for sure."

I started my year as a sad person. I had a pain in my side that wouldn't go away, which ended up being a gall bladder filled with stones. I was unhappy at work. I was living in my in-laws house. I was watching my father-in-law deteriorate before our very eyes as he grew more and more sick with pancreatic cancer. I had lost myself. My lowest point was early in the year. I literally slid into a corner on the floor and curled up. I felt all alone in the world and I didn't know what to do with myself. These feelings were crushing me. I was waking up at night multiple times having anxiety attacks. A few people close to me knew this. Most people didn't. I got so low that I kicked a wall...hard. Does that sound like me? No. But that is what happens when you lose sight of yourself. That is depression. Never again will I roll my eyes when I hear that someone is suffering from depression. It is real. And it is a beast.

I read two books that made me think. One was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The other was Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck. This already is sounding a bit cliche.....I was depressed and reading self help related books. Oh well. That is where I was at that point in time. These books truly did something for me in a way that no one or nothing else could. They made me wake up. I started to listen to the nagging thoughts in my head and the tugging of my heart. I realized I needed some help to get out of the hole that 98% of the world didn't know I was in.

I got help. Help for feeling sad. Help for the rotten gall bladder. I had my gall bladder removed and had a very difficult recovery. I now despise when people say, "Oh, gall bladder surgery is a piece of cake....you'll feel better in no time." Well, I was not so lucky. I took 8 days off work out of pure necessity. I read books. I watched QVC. That is about it. One day I opened up to both of my future sis-in-laws and talked about how low I had been feeling. They reminded me that lots of people believe in me. They were right.

One thing that nagged me the most and weighed the most heavily was my job. It is very difficult to explain this part. I love being a teacher. I love second and third grade students. I poured every ounce of myself into doing lesson plans and teaching meaningful lessons. But maybe that is where I went wrong. That love was hurting me. I worked late every night and spent many hours in my classroom every Sunday. For what? I'm not sure. Not every teacher was doing the same thing. I'll tell you one thing....sitting in a cold, empty classroom on a Sunday in a cold, dark, empty school doesn't do much for your psyche. It broke my heart that my students loved me, but my own daughters only wanted Daddy when they felt sad or got hurt. They only wanted Daddy because that is all they had. Mommy was too busy with other people's kids.

A couple of years ago, Matthew and I discussed the fact that we would never be able to afford for me to quit teaching. It is no secret that we are up to our elbows in debt with no end in sight. It is no secret that we live paycheck to paycheck like most of America. But then something happened.

We watched someone die. Not like, "I am so tired I could just die." I mean really die....slowly from cancer. I witnessed great strength and love out of my husband, his sister, and my in-laws. I witnessed true bravery as I watched my father-in-law fight hard until the bitter end. I would never ever write about what it was like in hospice. People who have lived through watching over a loved one in hospice are part of an almost secret society. I only talk about it to others who have done it themselves. Even then, it isn't something you like to discuss. All I know is that it made us think. Life is short. You never know what can and will happen, so you better live life fully. This experience led my husband to say, "You know what....I think you should quit your job. We'll deal with the consequences."

So I did.

I remember driving to school one rainy morning at about 7:45 and just knowing deep in my bones that "today was the day" that I would tell my principal of 8 years that I would not return in the fall. This was a life changing moment. I knew that if I didn't do it that morning that I never would. This was the moment when I faced my biggest fears. My principal was not a scary person. I never in eight years had a negative encounter with him. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders at school. I know that he believed in me. That is why I also knew my announcement would shock him. I felt like a failure. I was admitting to the world that I had to "give up" on trying to be a teacher and a mom and a wife all at the same time. I swallowed back my fear and told my principal the news. And guess what....

The world didn't end.

A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could breathe. I didn't feel that crushing feeling in my chest anymore. The most amazing part is the words that my principal said that morning. He said, "I am proud of you." Proud of me for quitting?!? That really blew my mind. But I get it. He knew what a hard thing it was for me to leave and to say that I would focus on my family.

So I said goodbye a lot this past year. Goodbye to my gall bladder. Goodbye to my job. Goodbye to my husband's father. I learned a great deal about loss.

I read more. I blogged more. My blog entries became more honest and open. I rediscovered my passion for writing. The passion that began when I was in the second grade. I have written deep things, personal things, and lots and lots of silly things. And I feel like me again because of it. This blog has given me so much.

After this crazy year of being thirty, I have learned who I am and who I am not. I have learned about love. I did not travel this journey alone. I became the one who my daughters want to hug and hold hands with. I became close friends with two people who had been there all along....my sister-in-law and my cousin. I developed a strong love and appreciation for my mother-in-law. Almost every time I see her, I want to just hold her hand and say how amazed I am by her. I have grown to know that I couldn't get through anything without my own mother. She gives me exactly what I need and what I lack in regular life. There have been lots of tears....but also lots of laughs. It hasn't been all sadness! Most of the funny times are right here on this blog. Funny situations seem to follow me wherever I go, and I'm not afraid to share them!

Most of all, in this last year, I have become more brave. I learned to not be so judgemental about everything under the sun. I got a tatoo. I got my first speeding ticket. I plunged down a huge hill in a toboggan. I flew first class. I became a lover of all things vintage. I announced my weight on the Internet. I baked a pie from scratch. And much, much more.

I became me again or maybe for the first time ever. And that is what I know for sure.

10 comments:

Lindsay said...
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Lindsay said...
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Anonymous said...

You are truly amazing and I am going to love you forever.

Love,
Matt

Mom said...

I love you so much. You are my light. I am proud of you.

Leslie Boruff said...

Lindsay, I think your honesty is amazing. I cried when I read this because it reminded me so much of my 30th year. It was a hard one for me too. I was horribly depressed because I had just lost my brother. I too had to seek help for my depression and it was one of the hardest things I ever did. But it was also one of the best things I ever did for me and my family. Keep on keepin' on!

Beth Terry Merchant said...

You just hit the nail on the head girl! I am so proud of you! You don't have to be in a classroom to continue to be a teacher. You are continuing to teach people everyday-and not just the girls-in ways you could never imagine. You said it yourself tonight. You can't believe the reactions you have received about this posting. I'm honestly not surprised. It is proof of the person you have become, the one you always were, that was buried by everyday crap you didn't need in your life. Your actions have had a domino effect on many lives, including mine. I never would have made it through my year #33 without you!

Lindsay said...

My heart is so full right now! Thank you guys!

PurdueJennifer said...
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PurdueJennifer said...

Wonderful, Lindsay. I love this entry. I am coming out of the closet as a lurker blog reader of yours -- I will return to this post many more times to re-read it as it is beautiful and important to read to REMEMBER what we are doing here and how precious time is.

Jen H.

Micaela said...

can i tell you why i LOVE blogging so much? for the connections... i always wear my heart on my sleeve in hopes that if some other beautiful stranger finds themselves in my unfortunate situation, they can read my words- relate- and feel less alone.

I love those who share raw emotions... the bad even becasue no one ever does that. But thank God you did cos this post? this post has been like an answer in the empty canyon i feel like i'm standing in. THANK YOU for sharing your pieces of your life with me, even the most hard parts because my God am i there right now.

i hope to find peace and comfort while at home and strength for whatever should happen.

"Eat Pray Love" has changed my life. Absolutely. It's so nice to find another who has experienced the same. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! xo with all my heart.

what a beautiful post.