And in the middle of that whole beautiful, treasured, messy romantic past I discovered that I had changed...
In my early 20's, I was very opposite to who I am now. I was dependent to a fault and put a lot of my self-worth as a woman on how successful (or unsuccessful) my relationship was at the time. I rated my desirability based on what others (namely men) thought of me.
But the seed was always there. I always knew that the one person I had to look in the mirror be okay with every day - was me.
Alas - People don't change unless they REALLY want to, or they are FORCED to. I am no exception to that rule.
As a result, I've grown into the fiercely independent woman. I've been able to financially support myself (with a little help every now and then), and often times, I leaned on no one- even when I should have. I learned a lot about the 2-way street of friendship, and how to judge myself based on my own scale. I realized that life isn't a race. It's a challenging, astounding, incredible journey that each of us take. Each journey is different and unique, and the people that travel with us on our journey may travel with us for a day, or forever, but most of the time, we have to stand on our own two feet.
Even my ex-boyfriend said I'd make a great military wife, due to my fierce independence.
But my mom hit the nail on the head when we spoke recently. She noticed some changes in me lately. And, as Moms have a habit of being, she is right.
And they are big scary changes.
See, part of that fierce independence included an "I don't really NEED anyone, I just WANT people in my life" attitude. In part, that was a healthy departure from the "Like Me! Like Me! Like Me! PLEASE like me!" that dominated most of my early 20's. But now that's changed as well.
It's a little scary to realize that I DO need people. I need different people for different things. I need good friends like Sistah' Girl and Mrs B and Bon Bon to really let myself unwind and unravel in a no-judgment-zone where I find that female side of awesome. Where a glass of wine and some girl time can fix just about anything (even if that glass of wine is over the phone). And, I'll admit it, I do rely on My Sailor (my husband) for a whole different type of support.
Sure, NO ONE is responsible for my happiness but me. THAT hasn't changed. My Sailor just enhances that happiness, and I get accustomed to that, so when he's away, there is a void left. Not talking about that void is like not taking about the elephant in the room. And as his deployment status has sunk in, I'm now better able to break up my day and get in my Flying Solo groove. That doesn't mean the void isn't there. It's constantly there - even amidst distraction. But unlike when I was in my 20's, the void doesn't threaten to swallow me whole. I mean, sure, I have my tearful moments, but they pass.
For me, it was a pretty scary realization that I actually, legitimately, need someone for a million of those little every day reasons...but not a single one had to do with physical "things" (like chore help, financial assistance, etc) and they had everything to do with a kind of vulnerability I'm still exploring.
I'm incredibly grateful that I have had such circumstances in my life which have enforced change, and I have some wonderful people in my way -near and far - to help me grow through it.
And I'm grateful that while I'm here, trying to sleep through 140 collective pounds of snoring dogs on the bed, he's somewhere out there, on a tiny rack of pacing the halls, watching over all of us.
Though being truly vulnerable is sometimes terrifying, I know that deep down, my heart could not be in safer hands.