I’ve kind of let these prompts pile up in my mailbox, letting them bump around together and rub shoulders. Between being sick and getting lost in myself, craving sunshine and warmth, I haven’t had much of a heart to spend much time with myself. I couldn’t bring myself to delete them, though, these prompts looked at me with longing in their eyes, and I knew I had to address them. I thought it best to do so all at once.
My husband and I met when we were just 14 years old. We were clueless then, just kids. Our story is a long one and I should write it in its entirety at another time. Regardless, we have been together ever since, and we have literally grown up together. We were married at 21 years old and our marriage has grown along with us. It has not been a perfect marriage. I don’t think such a thing exists. We have faced a great deal of happiness as well as hardships. There have been trials and sicknesses, financial worries, surgeries, we have had two beautiful children. We have had losses and born responsibilities that we were probably too young to have to be dealt. In that time, though, the one value we have shared between us has been loyalty. The loyalty we have had has carried us through. Our views on loyalty, I think, has also changed over time. It is not the same naive and black-n-white perception we had in our teens and early twenties. We now understand the complicated nuances to loyalty that develop over time. However loyalty has been our partner over the many years together.
When it comes to my personal values and strengths, I can honestly say that loyalty is one of them as well. I learned this from youth. I also have strengths in charity and faith. I think I am naturally kind. So much so that this has gotten me in trouble in the past. On the other hand, I am also assertive in what I want and when it comes to protecting my family, especially my children. I have always wanted to be a mother. Always. I have been so disappointed that this has been a challenge for my body. However, I am so grateful for my two children and I love them so much it aches. Everything I am and do goes back to children.
When I think about my strength as a mother, I obviously want to improve. What drives my passions, how do I find ways to keep learning and striving? This is something my husband and I talk about often because too often we see people stop growing after they have families because they think they have to focus all their attention on their children. Or, they think that they will have time for themselves after their children are gone. I think it’s important to model excitement and joy-seeking for my kids. I want to them to see me doing things I enjoy, too. Otherwise I will feel false when I tell them to try new things or to seek out new adventures. I am currently organizing my craft room, working on my writing, and I just started a belly dancing class. I still want to learn how to knit and sew. When it comes to finding my Thing, I’ve decided that I am my Thing. If I want to learn how to do it, I need to seek it out and learn it.
Joy-seeking is important to me. I have spent a lot of years losing myself without really noticing. I spent a lot of years surviving and not even knowing I was in survival mode. I didn’t even know I was living day to day because I was I just hoping to not be noticed. I didn’t want to be unique; I didn’t want to be out of the ordinary. All I wanted was to do my job, raise my son (I didn’t have the baby yet), go home, and make it through the rest of the day. It wasn’t until I forced myself to stop working in order to take care of family that I realized that I so buried myself. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I had lost so much of my own vivaciousness that I never even laughed out loud anymore. I hated being asked I did for hobbies or what I did for fun because I always had to make up the answers or the answers were out of date. I still don’t really know how to answer what makes me unique now. I still see myself as pretty ordinary. I think the main difference between “now and then” would be that I actively seek out my own joy whereas before I was afraid it would be taken away from me. And I love that.
Prompted by: “Which values do you and your partner have in common” by Sandi Amorim; “Go ahead and name your strengths” by Tanya Geisler; “How do you feel about finding your Thing?” by Victoria Brouhard; “What makes you unique?” by Karen Caterson for A Year With Myself