In the two months that have passed since I first started writing this blog, I have (only) written five blog posts – which means that I’m still a verrrrrrrrry long way off from achieving my 40 before forty. Neverthless, there are a number of processes that are in motion in the background that you may not yet know about (including plans made and bookings confirmed today for a little trip at the end of the month that is on The List), so there is still hope of getting through The List before the big day 🙂
I’m not sure if you’ll be disappointed to read that this post isn’t about another thing on The List that I’ve managed to tick off; and I don’t have any quirky or entertaining stories to regale you with today. This post is just about a part of my journey – not only this 40 before forty journey that you’re so graciously joining me on, but also the greater journey of my life as it unfolds. In my very first post, I shared with you that turning 40 filled me with much trepidation and anxiety and it was to counter those thoughts and fears that I decided to live the journey to 40 deliberately, with intent and, in so doing, to hopefully uncover some moments of meaning, passion and purpose along the way.
You’ll hopefully agree that my first few posts have revealed that I’m committed to making this journey a successful, happy and exciting one and am actively going out to live with passion and purpose. (As my friend Nicky says, you have to be “all in” in everything in life, and I’m certainly trying to follow that mantra!)
The last few weeks, however, have proven to be difficult and there have been speedbumps along this road that have slowed me down, even threatened to derail me entirely…
If you are someone who accesses my blog through Facebook, you would know that at the beginning of January I decided to go off Facebook for a few weeks – there were just some things on there that were upsetting me, so I made a choice not to access FB for a while – why voluntarily put yourself through something that you know upsets you?
However, when I wanted to publish my last blog post, I went on to Facebook just to check that the link to my blog had indeed been posted – only to be assaulted, front and centre on my home page, with a photograph of me in a hospital bed, from four years ago, accompanied by a cheery message from some automated FB know-it-all saying “Nicky, we thought you’d like to know what you were doing on this day four years ago, so you can share the memory“. Seriously? Why would anyone possibly want to share or relive the memories from such a difficult and painful time?
So what exactly was it about this photo that upset me so? Well, in it I saw myself surrounded by awesome people, who were excited and happy about life (as well they could be, seeing as these special friends were on their way to a cricket ODI at the Wanderers that day 🙂 ), while I was desperately struggling to just make it through the day (no doubt you can see how heavily medicated I was – I can hardly even open my eyes in the photo!) In this photo, I saw someone trying bravely to smile, just so others could worry about her less. In this photo, I saw three gorgeous friends who have all moved on to get involved in loving romantic relationships (two of them with each other, hee hee), and there’s even a beautiful baby in the mix now 🙂 while I (again bravely) smile while expressing genuine happiness at their joy and good fortune.
So it is that this one little photo led me further on a downward spiral of emotions that had marred much of January, where I found myself questioning what real progress I have made in the years since that photo had been taken in 2012. Am I the same person who desperately struggles to just make it through each day, all the while looking around me at everyone who appears to be living the dream, pairing off, having beautiful children, and effortlessly living one happy moment and occasion after the next, all the while smiling bravely so people will worry about me less? January 2016 has been a month for me when the answer to that question has unfortunately been “yes”.
So while I’ve been avidly trying to tick some items off The List, and while I’ve been doing all the things which are good for you mentally and physically – training, working on my nutrition, seeing friends, reading great books, spending time with Chuckles and celebrating my my gorgeous niece’s second birthday (just look at that pic – isn’t she the cutest?!) – the reality is that this past month has been difficult. And I have been sad. Very sad. I have been faced with relationship disappointments and had to deal with one too many social situations which pressed too hard on my emotional bruises.
So why am I telling you all of this? Am I looking for your sympathy? Or your pity? Am I just looking for someone to tell me it will all be okay? Or to point out how many good things I have in my life? Definitely not – in fact, the absolute last thing I want or need is for you to tell me how much I have to be grateful for. I know that. I know undoubtedly that I am blessed beyond measure, and the fact that I am on a rough part of the journey doesn’t in any way lessen my gratitude for everyone and everything I have in my life. Just looking at these few pictures (all from January) proves how blessed I am!
A smile can hide so much though – so I guess the reason I’m telling you all of this is because, if you’re on this journey with me, it’s better that you know the person who you’re on the journey with. The real person. And the journey that she’s on. The real journey. Because while she’s a professional attorney who brings optimism and sunshine into any room she enters, and while she’s always planning the next mountain to climb, hidden spot to travel to or adventure to go on, and while she’s constantly seeking ways to encourage, counsel and support those in her world, she’s also someone whose hope and faith has slowly been crumbling over the past years. She’s someone trying to hide the fact that she’s terrified because she’s a 39-year old single girl who has yearned for a family – a husband and kids – most of her adult life and is fearful that she has to give up on this dream. She’s someone who gets tired of being “the strong one” all of the time and who would appreciate the people in her world stopping every now and then – just stopping – to put their arms around her, and check in on her and her world. Her real world.
Virginia Satir, a respected psychotherapist, famously said “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Perhaps my tough January is because I didn’t get the required four hugs a day (just for survival) – you never know. So can I encourage you stop and hug the next person you encounter in your world – whether it’s at the workplace, at home, out and about, or anywhere….the world (and I) need your hugs!