Timehop, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook continually notifiy me with memories from 10+ years prior. These notifications appear daily and constantly remind me of what was.
I find it very difficult to not get caught up in those memories, wishing to be 21 again, 30+ pounds lighter, without real responsibility and where my only care revolved around myself and weekend plans. It’s so hard to not be bitter about the life I had. Even as I write this, I envy my 21-year-old naïve self and wish I could go back in time and stay her forever.
I spent the weekend, 5+ hours from my safe haven surrounded by mostly strangers in an unknown city playing my most beloved sport, tennis. As foreign and scary as it sounds, I had more fun than I’ve had in years. There was zero judgement and we were all accepted. After hours on the courts, we huddled together in the shade (with beer of course) and watched our other teammates dominate the final match of the day. It was absolutely an unforgettable weekend.
I spent the nights at uncomfortable fancy dinners and then posted up in a plastic chair sipping cheap wine with others who sipped beer and liquor from plastic cups. Coolers packed with adult beverages were covered with the hotel’s ice and rolled out next to our luxury plastic lounge chairs. Eventually the coolers were utilized as ottomans and extra seating. No one questioned the girl in the American onesie or the couple who called it an early night. We were all brought together by our love of this game and our pasts were never questioned. We spoke in the present and lived in the moment creating nicknames for each other and laughed uncontrollably when those names were used to cheer each other on in crucial moments of a match. It felt liked a more mature college party where everyone in attendance had their shit together and understood the importance of life.
It was so nice being the honest version of me…not the wife or caregiver of a TBI survivor, but just me, a 29-year-old girl who’s love for tennis led her to this moment. A girl who needed to escape her mundane life/job to find herself, again. Very few in our group knew my story and it was absolutely incredible to be surrounded by people who had no prior knowledge of my past. I am so much more than my husband’s caregiver, the decision maker, the wife of a TBI survivor…so much more than a catastrophic nurse case manager. I am so much more than the titles life has given me.
This weekend proved, buried deep inside, past the tragedy and hurt and pain and bitterness and remorse, I am still alive. I am okay and continue to strive to be happy with who I am. Memories of the younger me will always exist. They made me who I am today, but I am learning to embrace the old me while learning to love and accept the new me.
This weekend away from my safe haven, taught me the world isn’t as horrible as I imagined. Sure, bad things happen in life to undeserving individuals, but that’s no reason to give up on this beautiful life. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, I was reminded life is beautiful and completely dependent on my choices. Once I allowed myself to embrace them, I was fully able to enjoy life’s beauty.
Embracing life’s changes is challenging especially when realizing I was doing it alone. I learned the happiness and sadness I experienced didn’t coincide with my friends’ nor my husband. Hard lesson to learn. My only advice is to embrace those feelings of triumph and defeat and loneliness and grow from those moments.
Find your way in life. Create friendships outside the norm. Be the optimistic flower in a field of pessimistic weeds. Embrace tragedy and change. You decide the outcome of your life. And I encourage you to write the best damn story others pay to read.