Me

Hello.
You don’t know me. Not yet anyway. I am you, 27 years on.

You turned 40 the other day. It came and it went much like any other day. There was some celebration, there was some sadness. But it passed. Much like any other day.

You worry so much about not fitting in. About not having friends. About what people think of you. About whether your mom and your dad value you. About whether your brother and your sister love you.

Stop worrying. All those nights of tears and fretting get you absolutely nowhere. Not one bit of the energy you expended ever changed anything anyone ever thought of you, did for you or meant to you.

Stop worrying Jessie. You will be ok.

I have to tell you that your dad dies soon. A massive heart attack. Norine comes, and Stephen eventually. And then they leave and it is just you and mom.

In time, you forget what he looked like. You forget what he sounded like. You forget who he was. Because you barely knew him. All that becomes important is whether or not he was or is proud of you. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. The only person who has to be proud of you, is you. Learn this now. Learn it well. Because you will fight this demon all your life. And it will win. Every time someone doesn’t measure up to the ideals you have set for them. Every time someone leaves. Every time someone disappoints you. Somehow, you manage to turn it into something you did wrong.

Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t take other people’s shit on as your own. And try to remember your dad as best you can, for as long as you can. Because you will miss who you think he was, who you hoped he was, who you believed him to be every day for the rest of your life.

Over time, your mother develops an unhealthy attachment to you. Your nature, and her nature, clash and crash and nothing good comes of it. It will shape you and affect you in ways that no one will ever understand. Don’t let it. So much of the heartbreak you face, comes from this one simple fact. Your mother, however unintentionally, will mould you into a soul that is very damaged. Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t let another person’s weakness become your own. But remember always, she did her best. It may not have been good enough for you, but it was her best. Don’t turn away from her. Love her as best you can. Because she is your mom. And one day, she will be all the family you have close to you.

When you get a bit older you are going to fuck up monumentally. You will think your life has ended. You will think you will never recover. You will believe that you are done. Don’t. Stop. It makes you strong in ways that no other person will ever be strong. Although the fear of it will haunt you forever. You will recover. You will get better. You will be okay. I promise. Just keep breathing. One breath at a time. This one moment does not define who you are. You fucked up. You are not a fuck up.

Even older still and you will get sick. Some weird mystery illness that they still argue about. Stop. Don’t let any doctor who you think knows better, tell you who you are. Don’t let them pump you full of the meds that will balloon you to 170kg’s. Don’t let them. Question everything. Make sure it makes sense.

Older still, and you will realise that you are ok alone. But that being alone all the time is hard. It is hard to never have anyone to rely on. It is hard to do everything alone. But you will find a few souls that hang out in the periphery of a life. Always there. They love you. Find them. Keep them close. You will need them.

One day, you will realise that your family is made up of so many animals. People will laugh at you when you call a dog your closest. Don’t care what they say. Every single life in this life, is worth love. Love them completely. Time will come when they will become your reason for waking. Your reason for going home. Your reason to be.

So much doom and gloom. So much to face in a short life.

And I haven’t even really started.

So let me tell you this.

You are beautiful Jessie. You are compassionate and kind and generous and smart and funny. You are loyal and true.

You are beautiful.

I am proud of you.

Every little bit of you.

Every big bit of you.

Every broken bit of you.

Every whole bit of you.

Learn your lesson Jessie. You matter to the only person that matters.

Yourself.

You are exactly who you are meant to be.

And you are awesome.

Lessons at 40…

I turn 40 this month, here are 10 things that I have learnt:

  1. Tattoos are not as painful as you think they are. Except when they are. And when they are, it really is all in the mind.

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  1. Sometimes, when your body is not perfect and you struggle to accept it, you put beautiful and meaningful things on it just because they are beautiful and meaningful. And because it is still my body. And I will find a way to accept it.

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  1. Finances are freaking hard. They should teach it to you in school. Really. You are busy learning habits (good or bad) from your parents before you even have money. Then in your 20’s you start to implement those habits and then your 30’s hits you and whammo – OH CRAP central. So I decided that all is not lost. I still have a good 25 years left to fix stuff. Step one – henceforth, I shall be requesting cash donations, cash presents and cash contributions from all and sundry. Anyone?
  1. Cats are moody. Moody as hell. Except when they are not. Which is not often. More often than not, they will scope you out from a distance, evilly plotting all sorts of plotable stuff. But when they love you, there is little better than hearing a cat purr and watching them smurgle. Oh and cats on catnip. Best. Short Movie. Ever.

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  1. Dogs are love. Absolute love. If you were to ask God to personify love, He would tell you that He already has. Also loyalty, acceptance, joy and happiness

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  1. Family is not just blood. If you are lucky, they are introverts and extroverts from all over the globe and they get you. Even when they don’t.
  1. Living is not just what they tell you in the movies. Living is what you chose for yourself. As outside of the norm as it might seem to others.
  1. Accept who you are. You are not perfect. But you are perfectly you. Never let anyone tell you any different.
  1. I do not understand people. People are complex and mean and kind and honest and liars and evil and good and a pain in the ass. Animals are simple. They are what they are, within the boundaries of their species. Unless you set a human on them.
  1. Life at 40 is not over. It is not downhill. It is not the twilight of my whatever. It is much like any other year. It is learning and loving and finding and joy and acceptance.

I never followed the path society seems to dictate to us from the cradle. I never had the husband, station wagon, 2.5 children, white picket fence, and divorce. I did not fit that mold. I don’t think I ever will.

I follow my own path. It has been hard. Harder than I can maybe put into words.

I have failed so spectacularly on occasion that Hollywood could make a blockbuster movie of just the snippets. Melissa McCarthy would play me. Funny, sarcastic, deadpan as hell.

Other times I have let what others think of me interfere with who I am. Too often I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. And sometimes I feel a concrete block of not being enough, like an actual weight on my shoulders, trying to press me into oblivion.

But I have learnt. I am beautiful. With beautiful things on a not so perfect body. And it is my own perfection.

I am unique. I am singular. As are you. In whichever form you chose for yourself.

The only person I need to be enough for, is me.

And I am enough.

Rewind

It has taken me a good long while to decide to write again. Life happened and writing fell away. Time changed all sorts of circumstances and the world kept turning.

Sometimes it felt like it didn’t. But it did.

My walk along the ‘gastric bypass’ highway has been freaking hard. Portion control becomes the be all and the end all of everything. The entirety of my being revolved around what I could or couldn’t eat, would I would or wouldn’t tolerate. Lets not even mention the pressure to lose. Because if you don’t? Well that is just a whole new level of failure.

However, much like any diet, it is neigh on impossible to eat like that for eternity. Human nature kicks in. A chip here, a biscuit there and voila – plateau.

I have managed to lose almost 70 kg. Almost. The ‘almost’ part of things makes me feel better. It is not the truth though. Almost is not where I wanted to be. It is not thin.  And all my waffling about accepting who I am and thin not being the be all and end all?

Was true. But was not the only truth. The entirety of it is that I want to be smaller. I want to fit into regular clothing. I want to  run and not have bits jiggle more than they should in places that they shouldn’t.

So I have dreamed a new dream. I started jogging. Oh so ever slowly. 5 minute warm up, 60 seconds run, 90 seconds walk, repeat for 20 minutes, 5 minute cool down. It probably doesn’t sound like much. But for a reformed ‘fatty’ this is huge.

It is also not the only exercise I do. Having recently adopted 2 bundles of furry fluffiness, walking puppies at least 40 minutes a day has become commonplace. But I don’t know that I can consider that as just exercise. The therapy? The joy? The love? The laughter?

Priceless.

I hope to write more often. I hope to find the same peace I have always  found in the written word. There is a joy and a calm in formulating sentences, phrases, paragraphs. It forces me into the calm places in my head.

It is my great, true love. And I have found it again.