I am 35 years old. In that 35 years I have changed a lot. The last 15 of those years I have been married to a wonderful man. We were young when we got married, at least according to today’s standards, and as probably many people thought, we didn’t really know what we were getting into, but who ever does? As John and I hiked down from the head of Bar Island after enjoying a beautiful view of Bar Harbor, Maine where we had been enjoying an amazing week long anniversary trip, I mentioned that 15 years ago felt like a long time. And that it was almost like we were different people then, and then I realized that yes, we were different people. We have both changed a lot. We are not the same people we married. You can’t ever predict the future, there are no guarantees when you choose a life mate, but I feel incredibly blessed in the one I chose. Fifteen years ago I greatly admired the man I married. And now, I admire even more the man he is becoming.
This trip to Maine was a long awaited dream come true for John. And it was spectacular. But it wasn’t all lovely gushy emotions that I experienced on our trip, though there was plenty of that. In fact I was surprised by the underlying sadness that pervaded my mind quite a bit of the trip. As I have shared multiple times on this blog, I often deal with anxiety. It’s been pretty dormant for the last year, but I’ve noticed a bit of an upswing lately, and unfortunately I had a much more noticeable than normal amount hit me right before our trip. It’s manageable. I’ve learned coping mechanisms over the years and this anxiety that I’m dealing with now seems to be more a general feeling of unease instead of full-blown panic attacks. So, it isn’t that I’m terribly worried about it, but why did it have to hit now when I was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying a week away with John? I don’t think it meant I had a “bad” trip, but my memories of the trip will now always be shrouded in this dark cloud that seemed to be always following me around, just close enough to cast a shadow on my otherwise bright sunny day.
There are reasons, I think, to this higher than average anxiety level and they are complicated and varied and partly due to some stressful circumstances in our lives right now, but that doesn’t help me feel any better about it. I feel closer to my husband than I possibly ever have in my whole married life and in the years of friendship before. So it is frustrating that I felt I couldn’t totally let go and enjoy this trip like I wanted to. I hope that John didn’t feel this cloud in the same way I did, and part of me hates to mention it in case he didn’t really notice and now will. But I have tried pushing it aside, and it hasn’t worked, so I am naming it, so hopefully I can accept it and move on.
To complicate matters even further, Emma’s birthday falls the day before our anniversary. July 14th rolled around and I didn’t even think about Emma all day. I knew it was the 14th, but the connection of the date and her birthday just didn’t click in my head for some odd reason. It didn’t come up until later that evening as I sat in the hotel enjoying fast internet connection for the first time on our trip and looked up my memories on facebook. Post after post from over the years popped up and I realized I had forgotten something that is important to me to remember. When we planned this trip I hadn’t even realized I’d be gone on her birthday and unable to visit the cemetery on her special day. We’ll still do it later, but why did it take me so long to remember? This was her 10th birthday after all! But maybe there was something in me that did remember. Maybe that is where some of that sadness came from. Is it possible that my body and mind were reacting to a subconscious connection to that date and the significance of 10 years? Or is that just hopeful thinking on my part? Does that sound weird that I want to be sad even if it isn’t because of a conscious remembrance?
Life gets complicated. We change and grow. Life experiences mold us. But the effects of those experiences, even deeply wounding ones change over time. Despite the fact that I appear to be grieving the fact that I am losing some of my grief, I am glad that we grow and change. I would not want to be in the same place I was 10 years ago starting a year of incredible grief and hardship. Neither do I want to be in the place I was 15 years ago, facing a new life of hope with a man I adored, yet completely oblivious to the trials ahead and with barely a clue as to how to be a wife. No, I do not want to go back to who I was. I am glad that we change and grow. But I also would not remove or change any of those points in time even if I could. They are all part of me, they are all there, shaping, building and molding me into who I am now, with the help, I hope, of God. And just as I would not choose to go back, I am also content to be where I am now, even if it means days full of confusing emotions that will take time and effort to sort through. Someday I will hopefully look back and realize that this too was an important and significant time in my life, one that will shape the years to come.