Today was kind of a hard day for me.
Today, I finally finished my second degree. Something I have been plugging away at for the last three years. Something that I am so happy to be done with.
It is an end that comes with great relief.
Today, was, however, also full of reflection.
Months ago, I made a decision to set myself apart from my cohort of classmates and speak out against homophobia. I thought long and hard about it. I agonized over my decision. But…my heart led me to what I felt was right.
To my great shock, this came not with the ripples I so feared, but with great, giant waves. I was confronted by my peers in a public forum, bullied, and lost some people who I considered, at the time, to be close friends.
The wounds this caused me…the anxiety…they are bigger than I want to admit. Because I am a pleaser, because I want to make everyone happy and want to be liked, knowing that I singled myself out of a class of 14…it has been so, so hard.
Losing the friendships have been even harder.
Today, I chose not to walk in my graduation. This decision was fairly easy–it is not my first degree, and I’ve walked before. But, as I browsed social media, I was inundated with photos. The whole group of people…my tormentors…they were together, partying it up, leaning on one another, and walking across the stage together. Celebrating.
…Meanwhile, I am sitting at home, on my couch, feeling a loss. No celebration here.
I can’t really say that I am sad I didn’t walk across the stage.
That isn’t it.
I am just sad to know that this whole group of people–including at least 3 that I considered to be close friends, and that I trusted–can so easily write me off.
It feeds into the fears I have always had–that there is something wrong with me. I am not good enough. I am weird. I am ________.
To add to the loss I was feeling today, this morning my daughter and I went to a church Mother/Daughter Brunch. I went as a mother…not as a daughter. My girlie was beautiful and enjoyed herself, and I enjoyed her…but, again, the loss of not having a mother there myself was felt.
I entered the afternoon in a pity party funk. I felt bad for myself. I was grumpy at my husband for not planning any kind of celebration for the three very long, very hard years of work I had put in.
I had a drink and stared at some pictures of puppies that I so desperately want to adopt. I felt bad for myself. I felt bad for not owning a puppy right this very second.
…And then, I forced myself to see some of the gains that come with all of these losses.
…And, if you know me, this is not an easy thing for me to do.
But, here it is:
Months ago, I made a decision, in spite of my anxiety, to speak out for what I believed in. I lost friends, but I gained a sense of integrity. A sense of my voice. I discovered who should be in my life–the friends who actually care.
My tribe circle is smaller now–but I have a few. A few I can call on. A few I can love.
While the Mother/Daughter brunch was hard to attend without a mother, I enjoyed my daughter. I was there with her.
Someday, she will remember that.
I also sat next to a lady–a new friend–who has been there for me over the last month in an unexpected way. She probably does not know how much her presence has helped me…but it has. And I am grateful to know her and to be accepted by her. I am grateful for every time we visit, every time we joke…it is nice to just be accepted as I am.
The last year has been extremely difficult. It has felt blurry and unsure. One thing is clear, though:
If I look hard enough, for every loss, there is some kind of gain.
I lost friends, but gained my voice.
I lost my mother, in an emotional sense, but have gained my own sense of mothering.
I lost myself, but have gained insight.
I have gained new friends. New relationships that feel more real than any of the others I have ever had.
I have gained new faith. New spirituality and belief in a force greater than myself–a force full of love.
I will lose more…this I know.
But, I also know that the gains are going to be even greater.