Thursday, March 23, 2017

A girl who likes to write a story

It hit me in the shower today.

Maybe I'm not really a writer. Maybe I'm just a really good storyteller who likes to write. I mean I don't have any extra special metaphors up my sleeve. I'm not really simile savvy. Onomatopoeia? Not exactly me-ugh.

But just the same, I love writing. It's my passion. And for some reason there are people who like to read what I write and for that I'm eternally grateful. There's nothing quite like feeling connected to someone on the other side of the world, through just a shared feeling. This has led to lots of thoughts. Because if I'm not a writer, who am I?

I thought about Fr Jim Callan and something he used to say....
We aren't what we do.
We aren't what we own.
We aren't who people say we are.

 Well, who am I then?

The domino effect of this naked a-ha shower moment sent my mind down a path further than any long run or marathon. I've defined myself by other people most of my life beginning with my daughter and sister identities and ending with my wife identity. I fell painfully short in all of the above.

My mom and I disagreed and argued. A lot. The more she tried to hold on tightly to me, the more I pushed her away. She loved me the best way she knew, but like so many people from my childhood, I saw her as suffocating me, and my spirit. I've always felt like a means to an end, but that's a story for another day.

Picture this..... there's a guy out in the ocean, flailing his arms and begging for help and someone to save him. But when you tried, he clutched on to you so tightly that he pulled you under with him and soon you were both drowning. What do you do? Eventually, you decide to save yourself. You painfully start swimming toward the shore to love him from solid ground, hoping he starts swimming too. Then, you beat yourself up for not being a stronger swimmer and finding a way to save you both. 

As I re-read that last paragraph as much as it perfectly describes my life, it's misleading. The truth is, it became the way I defined myself most of my life and in most of my relationships until recently. 

Savior extraordinaire. No need to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, sign me up.

It's also misleading because the time between being that savior and finally finding the courage to start swimming to the shore to save myself, has taken me about 40 years.

Yep, you read that right.

It wasn't until I turned 40 that I started swimming toward solid ground to save myself. Right now I'm in mid swim. I've jumped off the cliff, and I'm somewhere between who I was and who I want to be.

Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to running? The marathon was the perfect manifestation of all this. It changed me. It marked a beginning and an end.

I've written many times about my childhood dream of getting myself to the West Coast. Ever since I was a little girl I would dream of the West Coast. I'd dream out my bedroom window trying to bury my fears and figure out how I could get myself out of my circumstance and to this magical place, that at the time, was the furthest place I could imagine. Fast forward to 2010. Same house I grew up in, on the same dead end street, my head laid on the pillow next to my mom's head as she laid dying. I found myself fearful and crying, and once again wishing to be a million miles away and dreaming of getting myself to the West Coast. I promised myself and my mom in that moment that someday I'd find my courage and make the journey.

I've flown there several times but fear kept me from achieving what I originally set out to do. Drive myself to the furthest place I could imagine.

The plan isn't so much about adventure. It's about healing my heart and conquering my fears and doubts that I can get myself wherever I want to be.

I define me.

I've been waiting for the perfect time to make this happen since my mom died. That time is now. If I wait for the perfect moment, a newer car, enough money, or any number of other things, I could be waiting a very long time. Life is short.

That said, I'm planning to make the trip in just a few days with my good old Toyota Highlander and about 1,500 bucks. When I arrive, I have the luxury of a friend's generosity in staying in an empty beach house on the Pacific, exactly the furthest place I imagined as a kid. Crazy, right?

It seems the perfect place to heal my heart and finally put together the story I've been working on the past 5 years. It's time to close some chapters and write some new ones. I can't really imagine a more perfect place to do it than the place I first dreamt about from my bedroom window on that dead end street.

And besides, it will make for a great story too. And after all, I am a girl who likes to write a story.

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