Yesterday was my birthday. For those of you wondering my age, I turned 26. My friend texted me that this was the downfall of my 20’s. In some regards she is right. My frontal cortex fully formed last year. I’ve passed all the major milestones officially. In other ways, I feel like my life is finally just beginning.
My mental illness, and a surprise son, aged me sooner than many of my counterparts. I did things out of order, and all jumbled together at once. I had a baby, started the work to finish my degree, got married and bought a house in the process, and have still not begun a career. My life is beautiful, wonderful, and all out of sorts of what I thought it would look like at 26.
I used to think that I had failed my 16 year old me for not being who she thought I would at my age. I’m coming to realize though that I have actually empowered her. I never really believed I could find a healthy marriage (not to mention one that’s full of passion, admiration and mutual respect). I did not believe I could be a stable, let alone a good mother. Nor did I think I would ever find direction in my education. I have all of what I never thought I would find. The dreams she created were based on these events being impossible, and for her struggling to grapple life was hard enough. My life today is what I never thought it would be- completely filled with peace.
Sure I have moments where my anxiety has me crying behind closed doors. I have times where my depression’s tentacles reach out and grab me without me even seeing the warning signs. But I also have something greater, the power to find my way back to happiness. Most of that is based out of the conviction that everything passes, everything morphs and is transient. At 26, I have the world of happiness and empowerment that consistently eluded me.
My husband drenched my birthday in surprise gifts, many artisan sweets, and long trails. The best thing he gave me though was incorporating my family into almost every moment. Of course, we had our stolen kisses, sly smiles and me being my bossy self. But he saturated my family into as many moments as possible. I am blessed that my sister and brother in law tagged along for much of the festivities. It enhanced all our laughter. We exchanged stories of escapades with one another, yet I never lost sight of what a gift it was to have my sister here with me.
Our relationship has evolved over the years. My continual choices of self destruction meant being around me made my sister vulnerable to attacks and festering wounds that everyone in my circle incurred. Eventually through the help of professionals, and new mentors, I found my way to civilized society. I got a chance to be an actual sister, a sister 16 year old me never thought I was capable of. Having my sister on my birthday was the greatest gift she could have ever given me. It was fun. It was light. It was friendship.
This post is not meant to flaunt where my life is today. God I am still a hot mess in soooo many ways. I literally gave myself diarrhea from eating too much vegan cake. Instead, this post is about how if you fight and have access to resources there is hope. Stability is a journey. It is a continual trial and re-evaluation of what is working. But it’s there. Never give up hope. I’m so glad I got to not only celebrate my 26th birthday, but actually live to see it. There is always light, but sometimes you have to dig the ground, with your nails bleeding, to find it.
I refuse to call myself a birthday girl. Instead I am a bad ass birthday woman with the metamorphosis of life and self-love to prove it. Happy birthday to me, but more importantly happy birthday to 16 year old Hannah. You made it sweetie, now bring on 27!