Patience is a virtue. Who knew?

Looking back at my blog from January 1st 2012, I have to pat myself on the back a little.  As I put a batch of granola in the oven I realized I’ve been cooking and eating clean for over a year.  Sure, I’ve fallen off the wagon from time to time, but as I’m down 5 pounds from last year, I’m happy with myself.  My cholesterol has improved so much  my doc said I was one of the healthiest patients she has 🙂  Can’t beat that!  So, was 2012 all happy smiles and healthy recipes?  Hell no.

I was taught from a young age to be self-sufficient.  To not only take care of my own breakfast, but to take care of my emotions.  After many years and several failed relationships, the constant deluge of “No one else can make you happy, you need to make yourself happy!” began to sink it.  I began to take trowel to brick and build a wall that ensured I kept my happiness my own responsibility.  In my typical all-or-nothing fashion, I stopped having expectations from people.  Except for my children, who give me unending happiness, I never quite let anyone in. After all, why bother?  Why did I need to?  My husband and I have been married for 19 years and it’s been a good ride, a great 2 decades.  One of the reasons we’ve made it so far is that I’ve had low expectations and have never left it to him to make me happy.  I rearrange my own furniture, paint my own walls, go on my own vacations, and find my own pleasures in life.  I’ve always been content with this arrangement; heaven knows he has.  There are few emotional responsibilities to uphold.  I don’t ask him (or expect him) to shop with me, take me to dinner, snuggle on the couch or watch sappy movies.

But in my birthday blog I set out to figure out who I was.  I wondered “who is JULIE now that MOM is becoming more and more unnecessary?” Let’s stop right there.  Unnecessary? I think I underestimated my mom abilities.  Sure, the kids are getting to the point where they don’t need me quite as much, but they still can’t find the butter on the shelf behind the milk.  Still, I had few friends to fill my time now that that the kids were busy with their own lives.  The same doc that bragged about her healthy patient this year, told me I had to start letting people in. I needed to have friends or I’d crash. Quickly.

Again, that all-or-nothing trait came into effect and I tore down the wall all at once.  I put all my trust into my new friends and expected, very unfairly, for them to fill the hole that had been growing for so long. I gave up all responsibility for my own happiness and lost myself in this new world.  I gave over the wheel and expected them to drive my soul to joyville.  It was not only unfair to them, it was unrealistic.  It was a long, crazy summer and fall.  I laughed a lot.  I cried a lot.   I was on a constant swing of emotions and it was exhausting.  So I took a step back and returned to who I used to be. I stopped drinking. I stopped going out.  I picked up my trusty books and dove back into my cave.  But it was too late.  I’d fostered true friendships that wouldn’t allow me to curl up and be alone.  Emotions had been stirred and while the wave of chaos was now a slow ebbing ripple, there was no denying it was there.  I just needed to figure out a middle ground.

And that’s where I am today. After journaling hundreds of pages of gunk out of my soul, I’ve found that while no one else can make me happy, they can be there to share in the fun.  They can bring out the good in me, enhance my life, and keep me on track. While it would be nice to have someone else take the wheel for a while, I’d never be happy in the long drive that’s left.  It’s just not who I am.  I need to drive my own destiny. But, I really like having someone riding shotgun.  Besides, as Dean Winchester says, “Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.”

While I’m still cooking the same granola a year later, I’m certainly not the person I was last year, nor do I want to be. I’ve grown. I’m stronger, happier and more satisfied. I have amazing people in my life.  They make me laugh. They make me feel comfortable in my own skin and they don’t mind that I’m not perfect.  I’ve settled back into my comfy chair with a book and a cup of tea. Only now my book is on a Kindle, the tea is decaf, and I’m a lot more content in the life I lead. I’m older, wiser and learning a new virtue. Patience. Patience with life. Patience with weight loss. Patience with myself above all else.

The years will come and go and the only thing we can do is continue to grow. Continue to learn more about ourselves without sacrificing who we are.   When we stop growing we become stagnant and unhappy.  I was stagnant for a long time, but now I can feel myself growing into the woman I need to be.  I have two more tattoos, a new, short haircut and a sassy, yet classy attitude going into 2013.  Bring it. I’m ready.