Growing Pains

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Whenever I realize it’s January 16th I involuntarily wince. This date has always been weighted with past hurts and can be counted on to be a generally crappy day. Today was the first January 16th in about a decade that there was none of that. I guess this will probably be a reflection post on the past year and a rather late new year hopes/resolutions thing. Ready…

Also, hello! If anybody is even reading. I think since the last time I posted Google reader shut down and most people tend to just use Instagram, Facebook and/or tweet, or are grown ups with kids and no more time for blogging.

Anyway so January 16th, I won’t get into the long and mired association in my mind with this date and just say it reminds me of the person that raped me in college. It’s taken me years to even come to a place where I could say that out loud, let alone face the fallout of it. Looking back I see the ways that I retreated from people, the panic and fear in which I walked through the world. Especially with men, I still find it difficult sometimes to remain in long embraces. The threat of being physically forced to be in a situation, even fairly innocuous ones, sounds my internal alarms and causes intense panic. I’m sure my friends and family wonder why I haven’t had a boyfriend in a loooong time. It was easy to explain that away in my 20s, now that I’m in my 30s that question has gotten more pressing. The answer is that I was scared. Every man had this sort of flashing danger sign attached to him. That if I let someone in, I would give them the ammunition to wound me and I would never recover. I barely got out alive the last time.

I’ve spent a lot of years wrestling with this fear, to exorcise it, to somehow develop some sort of armor that would protect me from it. My instinct was just to run, to push any sort of meaningful romantic relationships away, to build impenetrable walls, and nest in my fortress of solitude. This would never do though. I am a person who craves deep and meaningful relationships. I don’t take friendship lightly. I have a lot of friends (not trying to be braggy) because I spend a lot of time asking probing and sometimes awkward/hard questions. I relish in this and get a lot of fulfillment and support from my network of good friends, I love these people. But I realized that I was really stunted in the romantic relationship department and I knew why, so I decided I would examine that broken part of myself and try to piece it together so it could be operational again. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a couple of years now. I’ve cried a lot, gotten angry, even found humor in unexpected places. The biggest breakthrough though is that I stopped blaming myself.

I allowed myself to get vulnerable with someone last year and was ultimately disappointed. This was a really scary place for me to be in the days following that initial blow. Once I emerged from the haze of that panic though, I realized that I was in tact and the shattering that I thought would happen never did. This was a surprise and caused me to pause and ponder why I was still ok. I realized that I’m probably a lot stronger than I thought I was. That those fears I had in my early 20s of losing myself in disappointment that had seemed so monstrous back then; I  had unwittingly vanquished those monsters by finding myself over the years. Now in my 30s, I have a pretty good sense of who I am, what I stand for, and what I won’t stand for. Don’t get me wrong I still have a lot of insecurities, but I think I’ve come to a point where  I’m not going to let someone’s opinion of me, define me. This is probably something I should have learned long ago if I wasn’t building that fortress, but even though it’s taken me a while I’m here and I’m pretty freaking happy about it.

So 2014 resolutions etc…I decided this year that I instead of listing out stuff like eat better, write more etc. I would think of a discovery theme for the narrative of this year. This year is the year I try to find my voice. I mean this mostly metaphorically but in some literal ways as well. I signed up for an 8 week French class to have an excuse to say things that are kind of uncomfortable out loud (I have trouble with the rrrrs). You’re going to read some of my stories this year. I’m going to work on not being such a social loafer. I’m going to try and not be afraid of showing my true self anymore. I’m really excited for what’s in store this year. Bring it 2014!