Finding me is a short non-fiction story about soul-searching.
Amidst the chaotic summer there was also a real anger on display; anger directed at those who, lacking guilt and consideration, disillusioned me but mostly anger towards myself for trusting and letting my guard down. I am compassionate, and if I may add selfless, by nature. I take pride in always putting others’ needs before mine, no matter how insignificant they might be. My weakness is expecting just a little respect in return.
I let me down. I forgot me. I lost me. The anger got the better of me. I courted it. It was standing outside and I invited it in.
I had to find a different dimension, the one that separates me from my role as wife, mother, sister, daughter or friend. I had to find joy of exploring who I am and find the part of me that still holds dreams for where my life might go, even at this age. I had to let go of anger. I had to let go of expectations. I had to forgive me first in order to forgive others. Anger brings about a change. Improvement begins within.
I started by booking a little getaway. My first selfish act, age 48.
I went away to “find myself”. I expected nothing but time to think and stare at the ceiling.
I disconnected all social media for the whole three days. My refuge was an Inn in Illinois, minutes away from the Starved Rock State Park and a few hours away from home. No agenda.
I enjoyed the serenity of the surroundings and prayed for clarity of mind. It is clear to me now: I can only trust HIM. HE never leaves my side. HIS plan is better than mine; I need to let HIM take the lead. HE led me out of war-affected country safe and sound; I believe that HIS plan was not to turn me into an angry person.
“You don’t want to hold on to anger.” a little angel said softly while shifting her position on my right shoulder.
“You are being taken for granted, you should be angry!” a shouting voice came from the left.
It is always an uphill battle, always a fight to fight, there are always forces internally and externally that oppose what is TRUE and RIGHT.
Hiking an hour deep into the woods with no one in sight sharpened my senses (fear, mostly) and helped me find my restoration. I tried to appreciate the present moment (so grateful I haven’t been attacked by a bear or a lone forest dweller) and pay attention to details, like colors and sounds.
What is important to me? Why am I so willing to set that aside for others? Discussions between my shoulder companions got really heated at times as I was making my way through the forest. But they taught me something: in a desperate need to find me I actually found that I was never missing. I found that I needed to pause so I could catch up with myself and put me back on the track, HIS track.
What I Learned
I learned that it is helpful to detach. It is OK to be selfish because it is possible to take care of you first and still stay courteous. I learned that I need to shift my focus and stop dwelling on the past and stop holding on to residual anger. I learned that I have to set boundaries. I learned that I can say NO.
I learned that I never stopped loving. I learned that I never stopped feeling blessed. I learned that I am determined. Despite the fear, I arrived at LaSalle canyon. Even though the season was dry and the canyon was lacking its waterfall, it was still beautiful and so worth the hike. It was such a relief to see other people there too. I found peace of mind.
I also found that I am out of shape and old, but mostly out of shape. I learned I KNOW how to relax. Amazing how long a day is when you got nothing to do and nothing to worry about. I learned I am capable of taking power naps. When there is no meal to cook, house to clean or people to please, my brain CAN shut off.
I learned I am perfectly comfortable approaching strangers, something unthinkable of doing while I was young. I learned that being my only priority and doing what I want, when I want to do it is SO MUCH FUN! I learned that sightseeing alone is not fun at all.
I learned that I am not as tough as I thought I was and as I’d like to be portrayed. There is somewhere deep, deep within me a little girl that desires to be protected, loved and appreciated; expectations seemingly so hard to meet.
But most importantly, I learned that I am scared stiff of deep woods.