Friday, August 15, 2014

The Change in Me

When I was 18 and married to a man I believed I loved, I learned an important lesson in life- that nothing is perfect. And another- that you get used to imperfections. And another- that you can choose to be happy even when things don't pan out as you would like them to.

I saw my ideal of happiness die bit by bit everyday. And I saw myself adjusting my idea, and ideal, of happiness every day. I stayed in love, even when everything I considered loving to be had evaporated. I stayed happy, even when everything that would have made me remotely happy was taken away from me.

And through all this, I was not passive. I accepted everything that was happening with rigor. I accepted lack of love with honor. I accepted shame with courage. I accepted illness with dreaminess. I accepted heartbreak with a smile. I accepted failure with a mad drive to win. And I plowed on doggedly. Plowing on was my weapon. The fact that I was trapped- by my youth, by my lack of resources, by my lack of choices, by my illness, by my pride- was the very thing that set me free.

Now, at this stage in life, I don't accept imperfections. Not in myself, not in those I love. I demand high standards from myself, and from those I love. Today, I do not allow my ideal of happiness to be diluted. I do not stare in shock at horrors committed against my ideals, only to blink away their memory. I stay shocked and I act and I remember. I do not compromise on my principles. I do not allow any nonsense cloaked as "love" or "pride" to win any battle against my dignity.

Today, I am free of the trappings of youth. I  have more resources than I ever wished for. And I am at a stage where I don't have to defend my choices to anyone. Yes, I still have pride, but not the kind that holds me down. Guilt and shame are no longer close friends, just acquaintances. See, the very things that set me on a mad journey towards freedom and dreams 30 years ago have vanished. And not just the circumstances, but the person herself seems changed.

Today, when I am 48, mother of two children, having lived for the last 14 years on my own terms, having succeeded beyond expectations and failed horribly in a hundred different ways, I have learned another important lesson- that nothing is perfect, but that doesn't mean one should stop wanting it to be. 

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