I got married 21 years ago today. That’s 21 years of struggles and stress, celebrations and surprises (some more pleasant than others). 21 years of my belly growing, my heart expanding and my tolerance increasing as I learned to make room in and around myself for the (amazing) people that I share my life with.
21 years of figuring out how to compromise, to share, to think of others without losing myself.
This last one being the hardest – because 21 years is a long time to focus on others while still holding onto yourself. It’s a hard time to take care of yourself when the ones in your care are so much needier than you. It’s a cruel thing to say ‘put yourself first’ when you’ve got a newborn whose survival depends on your feeding them, a child whose development depends on your nurturing them, a teenager whose mental health depends on your availability to them. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others was my motto early on, but my experience thus far has been that taking care of others sometimes requires that you put yourself on pause, that your attention comes off of your self. That the self that you evolve into is a self that cares for the family that you yearned for.
And when that pause button is un-paused, it’s easy to look back and wonder where you went, wonder where you were, wonder who was doing you while you were on pause. And who is it that you go back to being?
Is it who I was 21 years ago? Do I pick up where I left off? Is the me from 21 years ago more true of me than the me I am today?
How do I reconnect to myself without losing everything I have built, have learnt, have experienced?
How do I reconnect to myself without dismissing my choices and disregarding the life I have lived?
Can I fold in the person I have become with the person that I was?
Can I still care for others while putting myself back in the spotlight?
Can I do it without feeling resentful, righteous and entitled?
Does reconnecting to myself mean I disconnected from myself? Does that mean that everything I did until now was a disconnect?
Is my self perpetually 28 and my new self a disconnect from that? Aren’t I more than my 28-year-old self?
I’d like to think so. Except that 21 years ago, my 28-year-old self made a brilliant choice in a life partner. And, if I’m lucky, that will be the same person who holds me through the process of reconnecting to my self — whatever that means.