Rebuilding myself at 40
We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. – Anne Lamott
I am finally finding and beginning to become myself.
Turning 40 has a way of bringing up moments in your past and challenging you to assess them. I guess it’s a precious, frustrating age to recount what you have done with your life. And you don’t have a choice to walk through 40. You are going to go through it if you haven’t already. You don’t have a choice on how your mind is going to wander to the first 40 years of your life and bring to mind the mistakes, joys, failures, tears, shit, successes, travels, relationships, values, regrets, the words you have spoken and the words that have been said to you.
Maybe it’s not just turning 40 that has me in this place. Maybe it’s because I’m still grieving. Maybe it’s because I’m angry. Maybe it’s because I’m not satisfied. Maybe it’s because I am reinventing who I want to be. Maybe it’s because much of what I allowed into my life and mind for the past 25 years is now going through a complete detox. Maybe it’s because I am going through a complete re-wiring of how I think. Maybe it’s because I want to be the most authentic person I can be. Maybe it’s because I have cared too long what people think of me and that kept me paralyzed from living freely, just as I am. Maybe it’s because my connection to God is finally real and free from performance and I have to unclog my soul from all the deception I gave into.
I told my therapist recently that I want to figure out how to move through this relentless undertow of anger I’ve been feeling. I want to be able to write about my experiences being intertwined in the institution of the church and help others find validation and healing. But I have been reluctant to freely write, because I feel so much anger toward people’s jiggery-pokery and heartless behavior all in the name of God. I want my words to be heard not blown off. While anger is a just emotion and it’s important to feel it, it does not solicit listening ears as much as vulnerability does.
As I started unraveling the foundations of this anger, our conversation weaved itself to ground zero. Ground zero being that I was ultimately angry at my 22 year old self. I was angry that at 22, I was not more put together to withstand being sucked into a loving group of people who had given themselves over to a destructive system that promised to lead them to be the best Christians. So, as part of my healing I sat down after that session and freely wrote a letter to myself at 18 years old. 3,500 words later, I was filled with deep sadness, empathy, and understanding.
This “inside job” work hasn’t taken away the anger completely. I still have moments of rage when I hear more stories from friends and family of how awful things have been done and said to them by church leaders and church-goers. I am reluctant to call them Christians. I am reluctant to call myself a Christian. That word and a collection of other church words have left a rancid taste in my mouth. I’m sure this will alarm many of my readers, but I’m not alarmed. I’m being real. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not just so you will like me. I’m done with that. I hope you are set free from that disease too.
Not only have I been detoxing my mind at 40, but nearly every other part of me. My words, my values, my perspective, my beliefs, my relationships, my hopes, my behavior, my evaluations. It’s a lot of detoxing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Thank God for safe friends and family, whom I can truly be myself with. Thank God for his perfect nearness and unconditional love that I never question.
I realize this is a heavy post, but this is where I am right now. I still laugh and find joy in my days and with others. I resolve to live the next 40 years of my life intentionally and freely. If that means that I have to spend a few years shedding the first 40 years of illusionary living, then so be it. It will be worth it.
BONUS: Download (save and copy) the poster I made just for you or pass it on to someone else who needs a little nudge to be more authentic!
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