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This is Me

(With sincere apologies to my wonderful assistant for this rather personal post)

In the past three years, I have gone through a lot of personal, life-altering things that have left me questioning who I am after all of this. The struggle has been difficult, and at times so overwhelming that I have felt like I was drowning (and folks, I don’t know how to swim; I have this whole thing about bodies of water larger than a bathtub). I turned to those that I knew would be there (my son, James, and my mom; Stacy, my wonderful assistant, and two or three others), but for the most part, I kept it all to myself. I turned to old friends that assured me they would help me through the pain and help me get back on my feet.

Then my world fell out from under me. My anemia returned, my marriage fell apart, and I was faced with major surgery (previously mentioned on this blog). Most of the people that I thought I could count on turned their backs on me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. I gained back some of the weight that I had lost. Frankly, I didn’t give a damn about much of anything.

I filed for divorce last September, determined to pack up my life and start over somewhere else. I’ve spent most of my life in Texas. I thought about it a few weeks ago, and realized that I moved to Texas when I was just a few months old (I was born on an Army base in Washington state), and I have spent most of my life there. Quite frankly, I have had enough of it. So I packed up everything I owned and moved to Illinois. Why? I had renewed some old friendships and made new ones on an earlier stay, and realized that I was happy here. Then my son and one of my other “sons” (who has called me Mama for about eight years) decided to move here with me, although James’ reason for moving was different from mine, and not my story to tell.

I’ve been here since November, and while things have not been as easy as I had hoped, I am settling in. But there is still an uneasiness, a sense that there is something missing. While I would like to lay the blame at other people’s feet (and a little bit of it is their fault), I realize that most of it lies with myself.

I shared a meme on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that said something to the effect of “I’m sweet, lovable, kind, shy and innocent…oh for heaven’s sake, stop laughing!” Some of you probably saw it and laughed, like I did. But I had one friend who didn’t laugh, because he said it was true. I’m not sure if he was serious or not, but it did make me think that he might have a point. I found that rather depressing.

I always feel like I have to apologize for who I am. And it bothers me that I have to do that. It bothers me that people cannot accept me for who I am. I’m not perfect. I’ve never claimed to be. I don’t want to be. Perfection is overrated. God didn’t make us to be perfect. He loves us for who we are, for what we are: imperfect and flawed.

I watched the Oscars tonight. I know that isn’t for everyone; I love movies, but I don’t go to see them in theaters that often. I usually watch them when they come out on BluRay or Netflix. As I watched them tonight, one of the nominees for Original Song caught my attention. It was a song from The Greatest Showman called “This is Me”, sung by Keala Settle (Lord have mercy, this wonderful woman can sing!). A song rarely moves me to tears (besides “Amazing Grace” which I have a hard time listening to since my son sang it at my father’s graveside three years ago), but this one had me crying.

I’ve sat here since listening to that song (I’ve played it several times since I first heard it), and I realize that I have spent most of my life apologizing for who I am. And I’m tired of it.
This is me:
I have a big heart, capable of loving many, but saving the deepest love for a few, even when they don’t love me as much.
I care for those close to me deeply, even when they don’t care for me as much.
I stand up for those I love and care for, even when they don’t do the same for me.
I take in those that are lost, for they need someone to love and care for them when no one else will.
In a perfect world, I would receive the same amount of love I give, even when I don’t deserve it.
In a perfect world, those I love would take care of me, even when I am grumpy and testy.
In a perfect world, those I love and care for would stand up for me when others talk bad about me or treat me like I am just spit on a sidewalk.
In a perfect world, there would be someone to love and care for me in a way that no one else has.
But this isn’t a perfect world.
I think my friend was right: I am naive, innocent and kind. But those should be good things, not bad things. If you are holding those things against me, what kind of friend are you? If you can sit there while someone treats me bad in front of me or even behind my back, what kind of friend are you?
I am not perfect.
I am flawed.
I am bruised.
I am damaged.
But I love.
But I care.
But I will give more than I take.
Even for those that cannot do the same in return.
Take me as I am or (with deepest apologies to my mother) kiss my ass.
This is me.