Updated: Feb 28, 2020
This is a notion that has been running through my mind for months and I've struggled to define it or process it myself, however when I expressed it to a friend over a tea yesterday, she was genuinely interested and asked: "Can I ask what you mean by that?"
I'm not sure I gave an answer that truly expressed what I meant. It has been more of a feeling rather than a... lifestyle? something tangible? Since that moment I have thought of little else. I haven't written about my Mom's passing because I find it too difficult, but I think this is important not only for me in moving forward, but maybe for some folks in my life - or who used to be in my life - who may get some kind of understanding about me or even themselves.
The best I can do, I think, is give examples of what I mean when my Mom's illness and subsequent passing gave me a clarity I had never felt or experienced before. Clarity is beautiful because it removes these unnecessary expectations we place on ourselves to placate or please other people. That unexpectedly disappears - or at least has for me. I certainly don't mean to speak for everyone who has lost a parent or a loved one. This is my reality.
I hear a lot of various things people have said such as:
'oh she's grieving and she'll get over it.'
'my god she has changed so much.'
'she'll be back to normal soon.'
'it's time for you to forgive and move on.'
Yes, I'm still grieving. Yes, this is my new normal. I will forgive and move on when and if I'm ready. I may not do either and I'm okay with that. You, however, don't have to be.
It's easier for me to let go of people in my life who have been toxic, or have broken my heart, or have not treated me fairly or with the respect and integrity I deserve. They have become a passing thought. My only concern is they will hurt people I love and if that happens, there will be no saving them.
Work is nothing, even if you love what you do. Memories, photographs, conversations, travel, and pleasure should be at the forefront of our lives. Yes there are bills to pay so don't quit your job, but it's so damn important to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. If you hate your job, find another. Find something that when you wake up, you're excited to start the day. Go back to school if you need or want to. If you are in service to others, ensuring a better life for them, thank you. You are important.
Everything you've only dreamed of doing can happen if you really want it to. Do not end your life with regrets - no should haves, could haves, would haves.
I will speak my mind in defense of myself, my loved ones, and for simply doing what is right. I will use my voice, my privilege, my experiences, and my writing to help others, to give them a voice. All of this allows me to sleep at night.
I will remove people from my life, regardless of length of friendship or intensity of relationship if they are a racist, homophobic, or do not understand empathy or sympathy. I can't change people, but I can change how I respond.
I will give readily, lovingly, and happily to those who supported me during the worst time of my life. I give randomly to strangers and animals. It's to benefit them, but man, it works for my well-being too.
You don't want to believe that people who are supposed to love you hurt you intentionally, but the adage is true - if you're a priority to them, they can and will make their support visible and felt. I will give to you what you give or gave to me. Do not text someone who has lost a parent or a spouse. Show up. If you can't show up, call. Text messages are unacceptable.
Letting go of things and people who do not bring me joy, have hurt me deeply in whatever way, or serve no purpose in my life, has become easy. Very easy. I owe nothing to anyone who brings me stress, drama, anxiety, or sadness. Gone - with a snap of a finger and I have no regrets.
I am paying more attention to my impact on people, whether positive or negative, and I'm working hard every day to be better, to be accountable, to keep learning in general, to say I'm sorry and mean it, and to make time for people who I genuinely care about and who I believe care for me. My priorities have shifted to be more positive, more self-aware, and more caring.
I've realized that most people who have been cruel to me, have lied, or manipulated me, my family, etc. have their own issues, and their behavior says more about them than it ever will about me.
I owe no apologies for any of the above, nor should I be expected to. This is me now, more than ever, and if I'm no longer your cup of tea, you're welcome to walk-away and I will still be good. It's actually simple. It sounds very dramatic when I read it back listed above, but it's kind of like making up your mind on how you want your own life to be, and then simply acting accordingly. Don't hurt people along the way, but do not cater to their wants and needs either, unless they have been down for you and supported you without question or hesitation.
Perhaps most importantly was something I read today posted by a friend I've known for 30+ years that touches on my last bullet point. I'm not sure if these are her words or if they are a quote, but I will find out and update accordingly with proper credit.
"Do not let someone else define you. Be your own strongest critic with honesty and integrity and your adversaries voice will be rendered silent. Unless that is, your adversaries are packed full of insecurities that-prohibit them from digging deep inside their own souls for truth. Their voice will never be rendered silent, they love the commotion too much because it gives them opportunity to run away from their own problems. Most can’t stand the sound of silence because it forces them to face fears and truths they refuse to confront."
Watching my beautiful, loving Mom, my best friend, wither away from cancer was fucking devastating, as was her passing. But in that process, in the examples I gave above, it has been a life-changing, beautiful experience. I miss her every single day and still forget at times she's gone. I pick up my phone to call her. I cry. I have days where I can't do very much but read a book or watch mindless television. But I'm doing okay, and living my life to the expectations I've set for myself has been healthy, good, and helpful.
Thank you to my tea date yesterday for making me really think about all of this in a manner I had yet to really evaluate. I appreciate it so much and I'm grateful for you.
Thanks for reading everyone.