When I returned to California for the business trip, I made sure to stop by the home I grew up in to go through photos from my childhood and save the ones I wanted. That house is on the market, hopefully in the final stages of closing so my Dad can move on.
What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I had started a project. To collect the images from my youth and try to bring them together in a meaningful way. To take them out of books that live on the shelf and get them into my life, on the wall, into books that live on the coffee table and bring back happy memories.
As I look at myself 10, 20 and 30 years ago, what I’m struck with mostly is a great sadness. The memories are not very happy, and I am filled with grief for what could have been. That way lies madness, I know, but I feel the need to process this sadness and go through it now so I can be free of it.
My birthday has always been complicated, excitement layered with grief & loss & anxiety & doubt. I want to be happy, I don’t want to drag down those around me. But the reality is that much of my childhood was pretty sad. I can’t erase that. But I can finally acknowledge and process, and put it away.
I can overlay that sadness with the story of the second half of my life. Which has been filled with a loving partner, friends and chosen family. I am re-writing my childhood story through the parenting of KidMakes, creating a childhood for her that will not drag her down but buoy her up, and carry her through her Dark Nights of the Soul.
And I can keep telling myself, over and over, I am valuable, I am worthy, I am loved. Until I am convinced.