I feel as though I have now lived two lifetimes. I have long since joked that I feel like I have lived nine lives, but alas, I have not. Anyway, I spent the first one (the first half of my life) chasing love, chasing dreams, chasing my escape.
I found love. I crushed those dreams (and took pictures). I escaped.
Then, I found myself stuck again, in seemingly the same place, but I didn’t see it coming.
Life has a way of sneaking up on you like that.
About six or seven years ago, I unknowingly started out on a journey inward. I think a part of me was always trying to make sense of things by going backwards. What I didn’t know then was that the puzzle pieces don’t fall into place until there are enough of them to start creating the picture.
That’s why we can only make sense of things in hindsight.
Oddly enough, my journey was pushed along, so beautifully, by a TV show. I started watching “This Is Us,” and like most people, got really lost in the first episode. I couldn’t quite keep up with what was going on, but by the end of that episode, I was in awe. It is not a show you can do other things while watching. It has to be the most well-written show I have ever seen. The way they weave everything together and how they keep track of it all is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
From there, I watched every single episode as soon as I could. I am here to tell you that I fully understand that I am an empath and a highly sensitive person, but that show. I haven’t cried like that since the ending of “City of Angels.” The only difference is, this was so incredibly intricate and so incredibly realistic. Watching this show might as well be me in some VR game; I get way too invested.
I remember when I realized I am Randall. He was having a panic attack in his office from trying so hard to hold his whole family together and be the one to take care of everything. I had never related to a tv character so deeply.
I remember him going to therapy for the first time…and how he grew from continuing that journey. It’s what finally made it click for me that perhaps that may help me as well. And a few years later, it did just that. I spent about a year and a half going and the growth that happened for me during that time is priceless. I needed to be HEARD. I needed someone to sit with me and hear my entire story, from beginning to “now” and be able to tell me I wasn’t crazy. I had been made to feel like something must be wrong with me. There was…I gave the wrong people too much of my energy, and time, and it left me a shell of the person God made me to be.
Somewhere during my year of being hospitalized and diagnosed with MS, I stopped watching the show.
Well, it’s now on Netflix, so silly me decided Kleenex hadn’t quite gotten enough of my money so I should try to finish it out.
I still haven’t made it to through the last episode yet, but I made it far enough that everything started clicking. The more I watched, and the more it showed how things are connected, I realized there has truly never been anything wrong with me. I’m one of those people with that broad perspective and I have occasionally pulled back to see the big picture throughout my life. I’m learning not a lot of people take the time and effort to do that. I think the world would be a much better place if they did, though.
We never get to see what ripples come from us, and how they affect those we come in contact with or how they just keep going and affecting others. And it all started with us. It can be the smallest thing, or something that feels awful at the time, but when we can step back and look at the big picture, wow! It turns out to be so important and powerful and beautiful.
The episode where William is walking Rebecca through that train, I ugly cried so much that I had to go open a new box of Kleenex, pause it to just let it all out so I could catch my breath to be able to finish watching it and actually hear what was being said.
So many things went through my mind.
I thought of all the people I have lost and how they probably never even realized what a profound affect they had on so many people they left behind. I thought about the unthinkable…the day I am going to have to say goodbye to my dad. He called me tonight and he is at the point where he has problems speaking and I know that one day, I won’t get his calls anymore. I wonder if he knows how many people he has helped throughout his lifetime. Probably not because I never saw him wait around to see…he just helped and moved on.
I thought about absolutely everything in my life that has brought me to now. I got really mad about some things and then super grateful for others. It was just all flashing by so fast that I couldn’t keep up. Memories and thoughts just rushed by.
I thought about me as a mom and wondered how in the world my son will see me when he is grown; how he sees me now. That’s the biggest one of all.
What is so crazy is that a couple of weeks ago, I bought an activity book that deals with ADHD, and how to work towards navigating that, for us to work through together. Well, the second chapter was about asking people what they thought of you. You were supposed to ask people for words they would use to describe you. I realized he had a clipboard his first grade teacher had given him that had a list of words she would use to describe him on it. I gave him several other suggestions of who he could ask. None of that was a big deal. Just a little chapter in that workbook.
It wasn’t a big deal until I just pulled back to take another look at the big picture.
Since 2020, I have been working towards new dreams (and old ones that never got their chance). I have also finally broken down and learned how to ask for help (gasp). If you know me, you know that is a HUGE deal for me. After I turned 18, I found it very difficult to ask for help because when I’d asked, it never showed up. That was the beginning of my stubborn independence that I have a love/hate relationship with.
In asking for help now, my beautiful life puzzle has had a whole lot of pieces added to it. Over these last six or seven years, I have reconnected with many people who meant a lot to me in my life. I guess I was just aimlessly looking for myself tucked in all of their memories? What I didn’t realize is that I was working on chapter two of that activity book all along–only I didn’t necessarily ask all of them to tell me, they just did.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to piece that together. I had someone tell me some things and it just all started falling into place. It’s not that I need someone’s opinion of me in order to figure out who I am, but there’s something powerful in hearing the same things repeatedly, from so many different people. It’s like waking up from some negative, sad, lost fog and realizing who you really are and that you didn’t just make that up.
I don’t even know what I’ll end up doing with this new revelation, but the peace and happiness it has given me is what is fueling me going back to being that person who chases down dreams and pays no mind to roadblocks, but keeps focusing on the possibilities.
I hope you are able to sit with yourself long enough to get to know…you. In order to do that, you have to be willing to sit with the ugly parts, too. Once those start showing up is usually about the time people stop putting in the work. But if you’ll stick it out, you’ll get to the good parts. The journey is worth it.
I hope you stick it out so you can step back and see your puzzle pieces giving you no other choice but to see your life from a new perspective.