Thursday, June 9, 2011

Smile (a Mischievous Smile) Though Your Heart is Breaking

I remember turning 6, 12, 18, 19, and 23. At each of those years, I remember breaking away from myself and reforming into someone different and new.

At 6 years old, I remember being fearless. Or maybe my curiosity overcame any fears of the unknown consequences. At 6 years old, I thought, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a pediatrician, a teacher, and an author." The possibilities of life were endless. There was no way I couldn't do what I sought out to do. Whether it was biking one city block further than usual or jumping into the deep side of the pool with yellow inflatable sleeves. I grabbed life by the handlebars or cannonballed into it.

At 12 years old, I discovered my sense of humor. (I obviously think I'm funny and that's all that matters.) I realized that making others laugh, even at my expense, was my way of making friends, building bridges, or reducing the tension of an awkward situation.

At 18 years old, I thought that I waved my childhood farewell. With conviction, I insisted that this is me now, and this will be me for the rest of my life. Color me naive! The only great thing about this year was that I was finally out of high school and I finally got my driver's license after 5 horrendous attempts.

At 19 years old, my mentality exponentially grew up. Between 18 and 19, my mom passed away from a second round of metastasized breast cancer. My childlike view of the world turned black. I questioned everything I held in my heart. My convictions became unstable. I didn't know who I was because I associated who I was with my mom and everything before her death. From this point on, my life was split into "when mom was alive," and "after mom died." This time period in my life was just SO. DAMN. HARD.

For four years, I felt like I wandered the world a bit aimlessly. I was lost.

At 23 years old, I snapped out of this state of mind. To this day, I'm not sure what happened, but the weight that I carried around suddenly lifted off of my shoulders. The bitterness and resentment no longer engulfed me. My happy-go-lucky view of the world returned. Life is beautiful. Life goes on. Being happy didn't mean that I forgot Mom at all. There isn't a day when I don't think about her. At this point, I took on a challenging job and made plans to go back to college. I remember the 6 year old in me and decided to face life with sass and confidence once again.

At 29.75 years old, I've reached another major change in my life. I am alone for the first time in a long time. I've been somebody's girlfriend for the last 10, almost 11 years of my life. It's a different kind of grieving process. The depiction of a broken heart shouldn't be split into 2 pieces, but it should be shattered into a million pieces. Every piece signifies the anger, denial, disappointment, resentment, grief, acceptance, shock, sadness, and the countless days and nights when things finally get better.

Like a broken bone, when the heart heals, the heart becomes so much more stronger and better. The phantom pains remind the heart how to proceed as to avoid future injury, well, for as much as possible.

I learned to love better for next time. I learned to consider myself as well. Giving doesn't mean giving everything and never taking anything in return. Love is time, conversation, acceptance, support, and shared experiences. And it became so much more clear what I really want in a relationship, what is important in a relationship, and what I could do without. (It's no joke, we really do get stronger and wiser. Experience is the most convincing teacher. It can be a total bitch and a slap to the face. I can't reiterate it enough.)

When I look back at the last 10 or so years, I have no regrets. Someone was willing to share his life with me day in and day out. (I am not easy to be with, trust me, I know. I am not always a ray of sunshine, believe it or not.) People change. Expectations change. And unfortunately, people grow apart.

(Disclaimer: For those who know about us, I wish him nothing but the best and will continue to support him as a friend. We're cool. So no Team Myrene or Team He Will Remain Unnamed.)

Although I'm not quite 30, I am looking forward to bidding my 20s farewell. I do have my bouts of midlife crisis from time to time and doubt, but there is that confident and sassy 6-year-old-now-29.75 within me and it's looking at the future straight in the eye with nothing but good intentions and a big, mischievous smile.