The day before my 37th birthday. I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a precipitous. I'm ready to soar into the life that's meant for me to live!!!!!!
My 30s have been a climb, a struggle up this mountain to the point I'm at now. Thinking back, my teen years were happy ones, my 20s were a time of happily floating along. From the age of 30-35 I was fraught in becoming, being an "adult." The word adult to me is still foreign because I feel like I'm still a teenager or in my 20s. I say that, think it, but also sometimes through some situations I felt so old, so very old. Sometimes vibrant and adventerous, and most times somewhere in between feeling old and vibrant/adventerous. I guess that's life - the in between. I'm thankful for that.
For a long time I didn't have the in between sensation. My early 30s were a time of turmoil, who am I, where is my place in this world, what do I do, just questions, questions, questions. There never seemed to be any answers, only more questions. My father had heart problems and major heart surgery in April 2009. He was in the hospital for three weeks at one point. The hospital was in downtown Atlanta, which is about an hour drive from where I live. I know that doesn't seem like a very long drive, or long time, but when you've worked all day teaching five year olds, then have to drive there, and stay for a visit, yes, it's long. I would teach all day, come home, my Mom and I would drive the hour down there. We'd stay for three to four hours, then drive back home around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. every night. I would sleep, my alarm clock would go off at 5:00 a.m. and I'd have to be back at work by 7:30. The cycle went on and on, repeated for three weeks. During that time, I watched as my Dad had the heart surgery, tried to recover, had fluid on his lungs, struggled to breathe. He was put on a ventilator and stayed on it for four or five days. Me and my Mom sat by his bedside evening after evening, each weekend all day on Saturday and Sunday. I read book after book, I wrote in my journal mundane, superficial things, never getting to the heart of what I was feeling, doing, experiencing, only scratching the surface of my emotions. Me and Mom ate each evening in the hospital cafeteria, if we got there late, we grabbed a sandwich from the vending machine. I had a basket of snacks given to me by co-workers, so I munched on those. I sat, I gained weight. I watched spring bloom outside my car window driving to and from the hospital. I'd walk out to my car on early, chilly, spring nights to feel the flutter of a cool breeze comb my hair, dry my tears, see the twinkle of stars. I was numb to all around me. That numbness remained for a while. Dad was awake, off the ventilator, he was disoriented, he was on pain medicine that made him disoriented. He came home at the beginning of the third week.
Oh wait, before my Dad was in the hospital I had strep, caught it from one of my students in December 2008. It was right before Christmas break. At the student's Christmas party I started having an itching sensation all up and down my arms. I went to my doctor, who did a strep test. I was given antibiotic. Pretty soon I was itching all over my body, the rash spread. I went back to the doctor, at first he said I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. He changed my antibiotic. I continued to have an outbreak. I went back to the doctor, where I was able to see a Nurse Practioner. She referred me to a dermatologist. The Nurse Practioner told me that the dermatologist would have to take a skin biopsy more than likely. Not in front of her, but with my Mom I freaked out. I didn't like needles, scalpels, or anything of the sort. There were a few hours before the time I had to be at the dermatologist. My Mom and I went to brunch. I picked at my food. We drove to my appointment. The dermatologist looked at me and said, "You say you have strep? Do you ever have psoriasis?" I told him yes that occasionally I had a few small psoriasis patches mottling my skin here and there, usually in unnoticeable places. He didn't have to do a skin biopsy thank God! He gave me some options. I could have a topical cream to ease some of the itching and burning while I either decided to take medication that would take a long time to clear the effects of psoriasis and could damage my liver, or I could go into a tanning bed like machine that zapped me with radiation. It was low levels of radiation. The first time I went in the "stand - up tanning bed" was only 4 seconds. This treatment would clear up my psoriasis more quickly. I chose the tanning bed zapping me with radiation. I was thankful it was in the winter so I could wear long sleeves, turtle necks, and sweaters to cover my psoriasis laden body. I felt so unattractive and self conscious. This went on from mid December until mid March. Three afternoons a week I had to take off work 30 minutes early to drive to a nearby town to my dermatologist, along with three rounds of antibiotic to make myself strep free. Thankfully by the time my Dad was in the hospital I was over strep and just getting over the psoriasis outbreak.
From December 2008 until May 2009 I was miserable. For five months. I was thankful because I know things could have been lots worse than they were. I could have lost my Dad, I could have psoriasis all over my body, still itching and miserable. I lived through it. I survived. It was tough. I'm not going to lie, it was very tough. I don't think I'm the same person I was before all of those situations started. Most of the rest of 2009, 2010, and some of 2011 were spent healing. Wait, no I'm still healing, as we all are.
Somewhere near the middle of 2011 I seemed to have got my groove back. I realized I have this beautiful life to live. The beginning of last year I started reclaiming my life for me. I started living again! I wasn't and I'm not stuck in a shell anymore, the protective layer is gone. I feel free and untethered. There are so many choice, boundless choices! Yes, I'm still hesitant to take chances. It still scares me, but I go on and charge on anyway, fearless. I think that this fearlessness is also a healing balm in some way. Healing had to take place in order for me to take more chances and live a life of more freedom, but in the same way, this liberation is a healing in itself.
I am thankful! I have dinner plans with my parents for tomorrow. Tuesday I'm taking the day off work. I'm going to get a massage and reflexology, I'm going to have lunch with my Mom, maybe go to a movie, and a quirky indie coffee shop for a latte or mocha. Wednesday I'm getting together with a friend from book club who is a teacher also. We are going out to dinner. Friday I'm going to go with 5 friends from book club. We are going to go to a restaurant I've never been to - 57th Fighter Group Restaurant in Atlanta. Should be an adventure! I'm excited!
As for today, I plan to sip another cup of coffee while journaling. Snuggle with my cat Mocha, run a few errands, submit a few poems to a few publications to celebrate my birthday, and paint. I've had the urge, the drive, and hunger for painting the last few days. Painting was my teenage and college days passion. I'm turning to that to refuel. All in the healing process which is a day to day endeavor, life, glorious life!!!!!!
Thankful for my 37 years and many, many more!!!!!!!!!