What I’ve Learned from Turning 40
I read somewhere that the average life span is 81. If this is correct, on October 20, 2018, I will have lived out almost half my life. What do I want to share about the first half of my life? What lessons have I learned thus far on this journey we call life?
When I look back on my life, I see a young woman who has struggled with self-acceptance and finding out who she is. I also see a woman with a big heart who has overcome struggles and learned to accept herself, and is finding balance within herself.
Life is full of lessons, and sometimes we aren’t equipped to handle the test it throws at us. Things are mastered one step at a time, and the first step I took is understanding this. You must crawl before you walk, and eventually, you can run.
Early in my sobriety, I couldn’t help but feel cheated out of 18 years of my life, all of which has been spent on my alcoholism. Through the recovery process, my experience with taking it one day at a time allowed my self-esteem to grow. I began to see the beauty within myself, which in turn, opened the door to self-acceptance.
The road to self-acceptance can be a joy and pain at the same time. You have to be honest with yourself and either embrace your imperfections or work on changing them. My pilgrimage to self-acceptance allowed me to come across this quote: “Your soul is just like your enemy. Once it finds you serious, it obeys you. If it finds weakness from you, it will take you as a prisoner.” (Ibn Qayyim)
I take this to mean that your inner self knows your desires, both positive and negative. If you continue to give in to your negative yearnings, you will be taken prisoner by your negative self.
I had been caught up in addiction for a long time. It was like a friend that gave me comfort—but eventually, it betrayed me and turned my life upside down. When I became sober, I was left to face being uncomfortable in my skin. Why did I deal with self-hatred, low self-esteem, and emptiness inside for so long? I would find out the answers to these questions by practicing my spirituality.
I learned that there is an empty space in our hearts that is reserved for the creator. No man can fill that void; only the all-knowing can. It took me a long time to figure this out, especially since I had so much love to give. I would cling to whatever affection a man would throw at me just to feel good about myself. I would attach myself to friends for answers…answers that were all within me if I would just nurture that space reserved for the most high.
Like a lot of women, I struggled with finding balance with being a single mother while establishing a career. Here’s where things got a little tricky: Being a single mother with no help is hard. I have to work in order to provide for my children. How can I manage my house, nurture them properly, work, and take care of myself? This is where I have to prioritize.
I found that if I take care of me, in turn I can take care of my children. What does taking care of me look like? For me, that’s feeding my spirituality, reading, resting, and setting boundaries. Yes, I have a big heart. I believe I am loyal and have a lot of love to give, but that doesn’t mean I have to neglect myself in the process.
People often make the mistake of saying love has no limits. Everything has limits. Your loyalty doesn’t have to be slavery. By setting boundaries, you show yourself and others that you have respect for yourself. If you have respect for yourself, others will respect you.
By learning the art of knowledge of self, I am able to apply these lessons to the remainder of my life while embarking on new challenges and becoming better prepared to embrace what awaits me while grasping my purpose.