Happy birthday to me.

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31 years older.

31 years BOLDER.

31 years smarter and 31 years sexier.

31 years and I’m still just getting started…and that’s more than okay.

After this past decade that was as much about defeat as it was self-discovery, I’m proud to say I’ve begun again. Proud, but not delusional. This shiz takes its toll.

So yeah, people, I have a line a third of an inch below each eye that I spend a good chunk of my morning routine attempting to hide with cover-up and powder, only to have it fill with smudged eyeliner by about midway through my day, accentuating the puffy little pockets of fluid that gather there to say, yes I am tired, world.

And I am tired. I AM sad, and I am frustrated, and I am impatient… sometimes. Mostly though I’m smiling, because not only have I found strength in me to survive, but I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was. Strong enough to have fun, to dream, to find ways to make those dreams come true, slowly and one by one.

I could have taken the whole my husband’s cheating on me thing and just cried or screamed or lay in bed all day every day until I either died or he changed (and we all know which would’ve happened first.) Instead, I held and nursed and stared at and laughed with and slept with and came back to life with my new baby.

I could’ve used my emergency surgery five days after I delivered that baby as an excuse. Blood clots pressing on nerves causing both excruciating referred pain and a diminishing ability to walk or change positions or even get off a sofa…that isn’t an excuse, believe me. But the almost impossibly even greater pain post-surgery, the physical AND the mental where I felt like my body had betrayed me and I’d failed as a mom less than a week into it… I definitely could have given up then. I could’ve literally and figuratively numbed my pain with the Percocet they gave me, floated through a dreamworld where my past and present never existed, forgotten even the new life God had entrusted to me.

I could have. But I didn’t.

I went through emotional hell, humiliated by my husband’s infidelity, humiliated by my body’s obvious need to shut parts of itself down to recover.

The catheter for a week straight…

The stool softener I needed to take every single day just to be able to release my bowels without bursting into tears…

The pictures and messages and news footage of the man I loved and lived with and some other woman, while I was trying not to believe I might actually die.

This wasn’t an easy time, obviously. But it wasn’t a time I’ll ever be ashamed of. I went through all that and I came out of it. I ran a 5K after all that pain for God’s sake! I divorced a man who never really deserved me. I couldn’t stay the course I’d been on previously so I found (and sometimes forged) a new one. I kept going.

There are moments when I hate that about myself, that I’m a person who somehow just keeps going. But I got this way through realizing that while the drama and the destruction made death seem like a viable option at times, it WASN’T. Not for me. I refused to go out like that. It wasn’t dying to get away from this life but a different kind of life that I wanted. And then there was that beautiful NEW life to think of…

So I kept going. And now I’m 31 and I have a job and it’s only enough to pay for my daughter’s preschool and Gymboree and the gas to get me to and from work and gets me standby travel the rare times I’m actually off, but that’s okay. It’s more than okay. I’m making money and paying for her education MYSELF. That’s not even something I’d have imagined at 21. It makes me tearfully, ferociously, heart-tuggingly proud because I kept going and I’m building my and my daughter’s dreams. Like going to Puerto Rico and showing my baby the place that made her so full of light and music and love in the first place! I finally did that!!

MOM heart necklace from my heartbeat

MOM heart necklace from my heartbeat

So yes, 31 is here and my life is hard and sagging drooping undereye bags are something I now have to contend with daily. But I’m okay. I’m moving forward. After the physical and emotional immobility of those first few months due both to my separation AND my surgery, I’d say moving is the biggest accomplishment there is.

Happy birthday to me. And many many more.

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