This isn’t the first time I’ve written about my birthday and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but this one feels different. I don’t feel like I’m searching for the life lessons I’ve learned or things that have gotten me through this last year of life. This isn’t a pep talk. I’m not anxiety-ridden like I was before my 30th birthday. I’m not wishing I was somewhere else like on my 29th birthday. I’m not confused as to what my path will be. You could say things have settled down in my tiny corner of the world.
Today I’ve officially spent 32 years on this planet and boy what a ride it’s been. I remember back to my 30th birthday when I was literally in tears because I felt like my life was over. 30 seemed so final, so old, so intense. I fought tooth and nail against turning 30. I was mad and sad I’d spent most of my 20’s drinking life away. Society has us believe in these arbitrary deadlines of when we should get married, when we should have kids, buy a house, “settle down,” where, when and for how long. I felt inadequate because I wasn’t engaged by 30. I felt like I was behind the eight-ball because if I wanted to start having kids I needed to do it soon. My biological clock was ticking.
But not only that, it’s because reaching 30 years old and having an uncertain future, filled me with fear. Fear is always there you know, it doesn’t ever 100 percent go away. I have all of those things now, apart from children, and I still have fear of the future, of the unknown, of a random catastrophe, of things not turning out the way they’re supposed to. I’m afraid I won’t measure up to all that I claim to be and do. I’m afraid of having kids, of loving them so much it will break me, of raising them wrong, of being an irresponsible parent. I’m afraid of death, death of my parents and myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting around for something bad to happen. Life feels too good. And in my experience when shit is too good, something bad is looming.
That may sound depressing, but the part that I’ve come to understand over the last two years is that fear is my friend. It’s not going anywhere. And I can live in spite of the fear. In fact, I have to. And that’s a relief, that I can live, even when fear is in my life. When I think about it, all of my drinking and drug use was fear-based. I could not come to terms with my discomfort or the hardships that life threw my way from a young age. The daily ins and outs of life were just too much for me. It didn’t take me long to believe that the world was out to get me. I had a constant worldview and attitude that the universe was inherently bad and the things that happened to me were a result of the shitty world we live in. And on top of that, I couldn’t take responsibility for my own destructive behavioral patterns and the role I played in my own happiness.
Today I’m so fucking grateful I don’t have to live that way anymore. That doesn’t mean every day is easy! I am NOT happy ALL the time. Who is? I cry and I feel pain. I bleed. I get angry and upset about shit I don’t think I should be angry and upset about. I still beat myself up. I still feel guilty about things I did when I drank. Sometimes I do shit that isn’t good for me.
But I can honestly say today on my 32nd birthday, I believe the universe is a beautiful and inherently good place, regardless of the evil that takes place in some areas of the world every day. Today I believe in cherishing exactly where I’m at. At times, I’ve felt the pressure of impending childbirth, but at 32 I am content with the life I’m leading right now, today, without kids or extra responsibilities. I don’t know when we’ll have babies, but for now I am happy with the way things are and I don’t want the constraints of society to tie me down. I won’t feel guilty for my choices.
Maybe I’ve grown up. Maybe I’m a bit more mature. Maybe meditation is soothing my soul. Maybe it’s a little bit of all those things, but I know that the biggest contributor to this growth is my sobriety.
Instead of worrying about getting older I feel grateful that I am even still alive! I never take one day or moment for granted because living sober is so beautiful. I know my life could have and would have looked completely different than it does right now had I kept drinking and using drugs.
I’ve been trying to keep this mindset and take it into every aspect of my daily life, especially this year. Old Kelly wants to be judgmental and can’t understand why people make certain decisions or behave in certain ways; new Kelly finds compassion for these people and understands them because she’s been there herself. Loving kindness goes a long way.
I’ve really worked on accepting that life isn’t always great, but even on hard days I have that feeling deep down in my soul that I’m going to be alright. I’m not just living life, I am loving it. This is so different from how I felt about life 4 years ago. I know what it’s like to wake up and not want to be alive. I know what it’s like to wake up and have to search for something to take to get me out of my own head. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re out of options.
Instead of drinking my pain away, wishing I wouldn’t wake up, engaging in behaviors that were a self-fulfilling prophecy, today I meet myself with forgiveness and grace. I know that I am a whole person who feels everything without self-medicating. I know that I am a perpetual student of the universe, not at the mercy of life or my pain, but a regular functioning human being who awakes with the passion to live life to the absolute fullest. Even on her 32nd birthday.
I love that I feel so different from my 29th, 30th, and 31st birthdays. I love riding the wave of life. Thanks universe for the opportunity at one more day on this Earth and in this body with this soul. I have never felt more invigorated by life or lucky to be alive, sober, and smiling.