I've had a handful of small epiphanies over the past month or so. I think the first one, the biggest one, led to all the others. It opened my mind to possibilities I don't think I was even ready to just think about.
Epiphany #1 is this: I do not like the person that I have become. This has been a long time coming, from a train of thought and inner-conversations over the past year, but also building on 11 years of therapy and self-examination.
The short explanation, the one that's easier to say, is that I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about high school and wondering how on earth I got to here from there. Not just the excitement and energy and possibilities that come with youth for just about everyone. But the things that were important to me then, the way I defined myself, were completely different than now. I was hopeful and generous and my mind was engaged. The future was enormous and kind of scary, but I knew I would find my place in it. Yes, there was cynicism, the "glass-half-full", the "don't count your chickens before they hatch", the "let the dust fall before celebrating." But hope and eagerness and even tenuous confidence was at the forefront.
Today, I do not recognize myself when I look back on that person. Most of her is still in me, buried deeply, covered up by the cynicism that has turned into bitterness. "Let the dust fall before celebrating" has turned into "waiting for the other shoe to drop," coupled with a constant need to look over my shoulder for it. I am still hopeful, but it seems only ever to my detriment: when it looks like something isn't going to work out, I latch onto hope that has no reason to be there, continuing to take a beating instead of letting go when the going is good. My mind is engaged, but only because I am constantly in my own head analyzing and re-analyzing myself. I am still generous, with a tendency to excess, but only when my own problems aren't looming largely in front of me - which is not very often. The future is smaller, but scarier, because I'm still looking for my place in it and see no real hope of finding my way. Just small, hopeful wishes that at least I'll survive this current mess and regain something of myself before the next disaster.
That didn't seem like the short version, did it? Well the long version is that this has not happened overnight, or recently, but it has been a long, long process. When I stand Mysie @ Graduation next to Mysie @ Today, it makes no sense that these two are the same person. But when I look back over my life, I can see the events and decisions that lead to other decisions and consequences until I got here. Each individual decision seems perfectly rational. But chart them out, and it leads down a dark path of failure, of giving up, of checking out.
Mysie @ Graduation was a fighter. I fought for every win growing up, fought tirelessly to succeed in school so I could get out of the house and my childhood and go be my own person doing the things I wanted to do without every authority figure breathing down my neck to judge and cajole and make decisions for me. When I saw the kids around me with advantage, money and popularity and confidence, I quietly assured myself that I was going to achieve just as much or more than they possibly could. I would be the best, because my fight had been the hardest. I actually thrived on these inner challenges to compete with people who had no idea they were my competitors.
Mysie @ Today has been crushed by challenges. I'm full and I don't want any more. I don't want success, I just want to survive and come out the other end pain free. Now the thing I crave the most is an authority figure to hold my hand and guide me through this minefield. Or better yet, carry me. Yes, please GOD, someone pick me up and carry me OUT of here!
So what now? Unfortunately, epiphanies don't solve problems. They merely cast light on possible solutions. You still have to implement those solutions, you still have to fight. And I'm still so tired and bruised and ready for a nap.
That first epiphany has led me to name my regrets, to remember my dreams. I believe my future depends on two lines of attack: rectifying my regrets, and going after new (or old?) dreams once again.
My most deep regret is pushing away my family. My most important dream was always to make a difference in other people's lives, to make a lasting impression on humanity if only in the smallest way.
Still, realizing isn't doing. I'm not so good at the doing.