Today, I had a good day. I felt accomplished at work putting out a good sized fire for a client and then co-hosted a webinar. We also had a lunch bonfire, which was the first of the year. After work, I ran some errands. Finally arriving home to take the dog for a walk.
Imade a really good playlist on Spotify last week. I listened to it when I went hiking on Sunday. I threw in my airpods, hit play on the playlist and started our scratch and sniff stroll. I have relented to Doctor’s speed of post work walk. He must sniff all the things, pee on all the things and poop in at least three front yards.
I don’t listen to music often. I usually put on books, podcasts or listen to the news. In my slowing down, I am also allowing my intake of information to slow down. This goes along with my comfort with just being. I am ok, today, just as I am.
On the walk with Doctor I just let my mind relax and wander, listening to the music. I got to contemplating how I am caring less and less about what people think of me. Most of my life I have been aware and concerned of what people thought of me. I have walked a path of solid people pleasing enneagram 9. I can honestly say since the fifth grade I have had others’ perception of me at the forefront of my mind seeking approval. Divorce is a training ground for me as a sensitive person to let go of my give a fucks of what others think of me. I didn’t learn the first time so I am back again for a second divorce. I think I am getting it this time around. I do not want to do that again, divorce that is.
I have felt judged since I can remember. The general feeling of my memories are that I was too much and I was a bit of a bigger kid as well, which didn’t help. I was dorktastic in the 80’s and the adult me loves me so very much for that. In retrospect I can see the struggle of the little queer kid wanting to be but also wanting to be loved and accepted. In the long run I chose the illusion of being loved and accepted.
The love and acceptance I received staying small and closeted met a need, although I did not realize at the time what the cost would be in the long run. I was a character I created to fit in because I cared what others thought of me. I never gave anyone a chance to meet me, including myself. It was safer that way. Safer for my heart, my tender queer little heart that had no clue what queer was but I knew I wasn’t like most other folks. I just thought I was weird.
Being someone who was closeted and masked for neurodivergence for the first 35 some years of my life, it is not surprizing that my sence of self was askew. Many times, growing up, I could not help my quirky side shining through with my ADHD but I found coping mechanisms to “get by ”. Not always successful or healthy coping mechanisms, I might add. From puberty to the birth of my first born, it was a long wandering stumble into meaning. That era was a hot mess. The birth of my son gave me focus outside of myself. I could put all my attention there, on being an amazing mom. To love this human for whomever he wanted to be and to protect him fiercely from the mean world.
My kids loved me unconditionally, in a way I never imagined possible. The connection with these two humans and their own little human weirdness gave me permission to be my weird self. Being a “mom” allowed me to dive into being different since it was not focused on me but on my kids. I had conviction when it came to them, the mama bear was born. I could fully embrace that identity.
Over the years that confidence of being a mother and a reproductive justice activist, seeped into my core. With the unraveling of my first marriage, this gave me an opportunity to allow myself, the true me, to take a step forward. Like a baby taking their first steps that turn into a full on run. I got swept up in coming out while getting divorced and raising two kids. It was a lovely, raw time of growth.
Middle age, the puberty of adulthood. I am still in my adult puberty going through my second divorce, a second raw time of growth and honestly I am loving it. I am getting to know me as a single queer mother to adult (pretty much) kids. Forty-six with the wisdom I have accumulated thus far, being aware of myself and having the desire to dive in and look at this thing called life knowing I have so much time left for adventures and learning. I don’t have time to concern myself with what others think of me like I did the first half of my life. I can let go of worrying what others think because I love the person I am getting to know. That is what is important. I know the people that matter love me as I am. I may not be for everyone and that is ok. I love myself as the quirky AF, queer, middle aged, post-menopausal, ADHD, cancer survivor, artist, gardener, hiker, teacher, green witch, mother, sister, daughter, resillient human with integrity and curiosity. I am feeling good where I am at and where I am going.
I cannot not be me. I enjoy my own company too much. I can’t go back into hiding. I will not create a character for anyone ever again. I cannot be small again. I am too beautifully big to be contained.
There is so much here in the cracks of these words. Many thoughts and stories to be explored. Good thing I have lots of time.
I love you Kate Olson Stroud.