Happy Birthday to me

Good morning, my darling. Beloved reader and ofttimes companion.

How long has it been since I was happy? Suffused with joy for no reason other than I am alive, and life is good. Days? Weeks? Possibly even years.

I am a crier. I inherited it from my mother, though where she got it I don’t know. My grandfather is stoic at best and my grandmother is all love, all light, all the time. I cry when I am afraid, when I am sad, but by far I cry the most often when I am touched by beauty.

I had the incredible privilege yesterday to be present for someone who needed to cry. Men are indoctrinated against vulnerability. Women love their partners to be emotionally vulnerable with them, so this training makes exactly zero sense, but here we are.

And here I am, one of the few people in your life who can bear your fear and sadness free of judgement. I don’t know your mother or your best friend. I couldn’t share your secrets even if I wanted to, and so they are safe here. Your shame, your weakness, your fears… all are safe here and it my joy and my pleasure to hold space for them.

It is also my pride, of which I am not proud. I have been the vulnerable before, but with someone whose joy and pride at being the “safe space” made them unsafe. The experience of crying with someone, on someone, is incredibly private and intimate. That my sadness might bring joy to another makes my flesh crawl.

But one of my favorite mentors is an expert at holding space. The first time we met one on one, she let my mouth run away with me first. For an hour, I spilled detail after detail of what was upsetting me but it only took her one question to break down every careful wall my words had built. For the next hour, I sobbed. She didn’t stop me, or hold me, or try to reason me out of it, she just said “there it is” the way you’d say it to a newborn kitten who found the nipple. Soft. Loving. Joyous without owning it.

I cried like that until I exhausted myself and felt better. We talked solutions to my problem, we have met a few more times over the years, and always with the same structure: I talk, I cry, I feel better. I hope someday to be half as perceptive, half as present, half as thoughtful as she. For now, what I have will do, and I am grateful for it.

Something about today is beautiful. The sun in hidden, I have no work to help me feel productive, nothing really has changed since the second (that’s the last time I had an actual bad day), so why am I so at peace today?

Maybe my efforts are finally starting to pay off. I’ve been exercising daily this year, tracking my moods and habits, journaling frequently, giving myself permission to follow my whims, reading more… something seems to be working, though I don’t know what.

All I know is that, despite setbacks and the vagaries of time, life is pretty damn good.

Happy birthday to me.