Today, most of America is focused on the events of 10 years ago. Everyone can tell you where they were, what they were doing, and what they were thinking. Instead of telling you where I WAS, I choose to tell you where I AM.
Physically, I am back in Virginia. My stint in Pennsylvania, the time I felt most …. what’s the word I want….lacking? unhappy? lost? frustrated? isolated?…..regardless, that time has passed. And like a seasoned dumpster diver, I have picked over that time, selecting only the best “goodies” to keep, and have left the rest for the memory landfill.
I have said for years how much I hated Pennsylvania. How Pennsylvania started it by hating me first. (how adult of me) She struck the first blow…I just retaliated. However, through the recent revelation, I have come to realize that I had a lot of wonderful times in Pennsylvania. I met good people, had good times. Not everything was a crapfest. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of crapfest, but again, it’s my choice to remember only the good, and gloss over the bad as I see fit.
I am more jaded by life, more cynical. I am less likely to trust, although my faith in my beliefs are much stronger. And yet, even through my cynicism, I am more apt to jump to help those in need than to sit idly by and watch someone suffer.
I am stronger in self, as well. I suffered, and I survived. I have lost loved ones, struggled with overwhelming grief and sadness. I have challenged, and won, and challenged and lost. I have fought for my children, my belief system, myself. Not all battles had positive endings, but all were learning experiences, and have made me what I am today.
10 years ago my professional life was all I could ever hope for, but my personal life was a quiet, private shambles. Today, my personal life is wonderful, where my professional life is not where I would hope, what I counted on. Which is better? Which makes for a better person? I know that now I am infinitely happier than I was then, I feel safer, more secure in self than I did then. I also know that now, I find myself …lacking. Sometimes I feel like it’s just not physically possible to have both, to be fully secure. But given the choice, I know that I prefer where I am now, for I can make the changes that I need, whereas before, as a friend said to me “I was putting a band-aid on a gaping chest wound” Painful to hear, and not what I wanted to “see”, but it was the truth. She was right. Unfortunately, we are no longer friends (gee, guess why) and I am unable to tell her I am sorry, and that she was right. I’ve tried, it’s just too late. I am thankful now for her candor, and it is one of the reasons that I do NOT pull punches when someone asks me something. And everyone knows, if you want the truth, Suzy will give it to you with both barrels.
For so many years I believed that the memory I held of my life “before” (pre-PA) was the only thing that would save me, believed that it was the only truth, the only lifeline. I held hope that if I could only “turn back time” and return my life to what it had been, where I had been, I would be ok. Part of the “great revelation” is that many experiences are tinted with rose-colored glasses, elevated to a status that helps us to gloss over the bad, and highlight the good. Things change, people change, places and situations change. Holding hope for a memory, in the end, only showed me that you can’t go home again, at least, not in the complete sense.
10 years ago, we didn’t have a lot of choices, at first. A situation was presented to us, and we stood in horror trying to unravel the events that were unfolding in and around our lives. Quickly, however, our choices became available to us. We could choose to see what was happening, or choose not to. I know people who did both. We could choose to act, in our families and our communities, or we could choose not to. We could choose a lot of things….some did, some did not. 10 years later, we still have the option to choose. If nothing else. I choose to see me now. Not then. Not past. I cannot change the past, but I can change my future. I can choose the energy I want in my life, and the people I want in it. I can choose to be honest, even when it hurts. I can choose to raise my children as strong, healthy, individuals with a sense of self-worth and strength. I can choose to educate those around me on how to improve their own mental, physical and spiritual lives. I can choose to share, to be kind, and to find my own inner drive and strength. I can remember that, even though a lot of thing can be taken from you, your right to choose your life is not one of them.