There You Are

The first of December. The new year calls out to me and I am answering with a list of hopes and dreams and for the first time trying to be okay with feeling giddy in anticipation of a new beginning. I feel so much and always have, but have heard, “You’re fine, quit that,” so many times it has become my subconscience. You talk too much. You feel too much. You are too much, Jordan. The voice inside my head has shamed me for too long, so I have decided it is time to stop feeding her.

For almost 30 years, I have mistaken the meaning of the comment, “I can’t handle you.” I have been on the receiving end of it and internalized it as a reminder to not give too much or try too hard or show my cards or be my whole self because that whole self is not compatible with love or companionship or friendship or whatever, when it actually has nothing to do with me at all. I have learned this because I have recognized myself feeling it toward my daughters but have known at my very core that they are not doing anything wrong by simply having feelings and expressing them in the best way they know how in that moment. When their feelings feel like too much for me, it is because I have not dealt with my own big feelings and I do not have the capacity to take on someone else’s load when I am strugglig to carry my own.

My daughters are not too much and I never want them to feel like they are. And I know I can tell them that a million times but how they see me treat myself as a woman and wife and mother and daughter and friend is actually much more important in how they will go on to view and treat themselves throughout their lives.

So, I am taking off the robe of expectations I’ve put on every day of my life, for my girls and for myself. I will no longer drown myself in guilt for feeling like I failed to meet them. I will just be, and be okay with that.

My dreams for the new year are exciting, but being here now is beautiful and heavy and well worth my time, too. The holiday season is illuminated with more magic now as a mother of young children than it was when I was a young child myself, already anxious about so many of the things I’ve written above. I don’t want to wait another month to take off the things that I do not need to be carrying.

So, because I am a sucker for symbols and signs and the outward reflecting the inward and yada yada, and no longer embarassed of that, I cut off my hair. I dug through my beliefs about what a pretty woman should look like based on what I heard growing up (thin, long haired, probably blond, big boobs, always wearing makeup but looking natural enough) and said to myself, “Is my greatest goal to be someone else’s idea of ‘pretty?’ No, it never has been.” I have never been to the point of chasing that end at all costs (Even while nursing two babies, I am small chested and have never looked into any sort of enhancement. But I did allow my mother to give me blond highlights throughout elementary school.), but I did believe it when people told me, “You look better with long hair.”

And I think at some points mthroughout my teenage and young adult years, I hid myself in that space. I wasn’t thin or blond, but at least I met one of the requirements of being adequately feminine.

But what the hell does that have to do with being myself? I am female, yes, and I am proud of that in the sense that it has given me the ability to grow and birth and breastfeed my children, but the way I look has little to do with who I am and how I take care of myself and my husband and my girls and my friends and my home.

And in this season, having hair past my collarbone was actually decreasing my overall quality of life. I wore it up most days because when I didn’t, my toddler grabbed two fistfuls of it and I spent the next bit of time untangling it from her tiny fingers. It didn’t make me feel lovely or serve me—it mostly made me feel annoyed. So I got rid of it.

And I feel much lighter. I watched my hair fall onto the floor around me in the salon last weekend, and I started laughing. Hello. There you are.

When I walked back to my car, I allowed myself to feel the sun on my neck, the wind on my ears, the grin on my face. I couldn’t see myself, but I felt beautiful.

I want to feel. I want to feel it all, every bit of this one life in this one body with this one heart.

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