Part One in a Series of One Because I Am So Done

For my job at Blogher, I read over 300 blogs weekly. And whenever I see a post title of the “On Not Writing” variety I groan. I think, just write already! Your hands are already moving on that keyboard, honey. Tell us a joke!

So, this is not about why I haven’t been writing. And this is not about depression.

Except that it is.

I started blogging almost six years ago, only half of which were actively (guess which half!). For the last couple of years I’ve been doing the blogging equivalent of “I’m fine. And you?!”. Posting sporadically and then continuing to let you talk. But, I wasn’t fine. I was far from fine. I was being turned inside out, emotionally, financially, spiritually. I chose not to write about the worst of it. My honesty would hurt too many people – my husband, my mother, my in-laws. And maybe one day my daughter.

Some days I just didn’t want the internet to see what I’d become. I wondered if there even was a place for dark thoughts anymore in blogging when it seemed the whole community had exploded into a Vegas Strip of giveaways and pithy photo captions.

Other days I thought I was too good for blogging. After all, I was back in the corporate world, managing an office in spikey heels. I didn’t have time to come up with witty repertoire about throw pillows and granola bars. Please! I was too busy moving numbers around.

So, I chose to struggle through alone. To find my way in a world where I was no longer insulated by money and faith and a perfect marriage and a perfect baby and great writing gigs. And good blog traffic.

But, I continued to write privately. And it saved me.

It’s true what they say. Pain leaves in its wake a greater capacity to love. And a greater appreciation for happiness. In moments where I’m happy now I recognize it. I stand in it. I find myself laughing with a friend and stop to think, “I’m happy right now”. And I truly appreciate it. More than I ever have.

Yesterday, I caught myself humming in the shower and was so relieved it was still possible that I almost burst into tears.

I hug my daughter more. I listen to my husband. I seek out my friends. A lightness is back. The heaviness has left. Not lifted. Left. Gone. I can sense it. Like a haunting that’s decided to move on.

The world has color again.

Because I’ve stopped trying to be her.

I spent the last two years trying desperately to feel like the old Lena. And when I realized I never will – I can’t go back - I mourned. I felt cheated. I felt like I’d been promised that things wouldn’t change. Ever. Yet, they had. And my resistance to moving forward was killing me inside.

Until I had dinner with a friend last month.

“Don’t you think I’ve changed a lot since we met seven years ago”, I asked her.

“You’re a completely different person now.”

My eyes welled up.

“I know I am”, I cried, “Don’t you miss the friend you used to have? With all that money and hair and body and laughter and a total lack of humility? Wasn’t that just so much fun?”

Tearfully I rambled on about who I used to be.

“Not for me.”

I looked at her, stunned.

“Lena, you were hurtful. You were clueless. And selfish. You are a completely different person now. I love you more now than I ever did then.”

She started to cry.

“I know you’ve been through a lot. But, I wish you could see that you’re better now.”

At that moment, it clicked.

I am.

The truth is, I’ve never been better. I’ve been completely deconstructed. I’m not the Lena I was in my 20’s. I’m not that wife, friend, mother, or daughter.

Or writer.

Where there once was innocence there’s experience. Where there was insecurity there’s now confidence.

Where there was fear, there’s now knowledge. And where there was judgment, there’s now compassion.

There’s something so freeing about surprising yourself. You should try it sometime.


Daisy said...

I'm glad you are hanging in there, doing well and loving life. We should all be so lucky. Nice to read something from you again.

The Dalai Mama said...

How much we reject change and growth. You have grown and growing hurts.

You are so lucky to have a friend that is honest with you.

Wishing you the best.

Anonymous said...

Hoping you will let us all read more of the new you. I enjoyed reading you then, so I know I'd love you even more now. After all, I can only hope that I have grown and changed into a better me, too.

Rebecca said...

That's great.

I always enjoy your posts.

JP said...

This is awesome. Not the part about you having a hard time, but rediscovering yourself.

I hope you keep sharing.

Melodee said...

Thank you for sharing this. (You rock!)

Barbara said...

Others have already said it, but thank you for sharing. Believe me, I know (almost) exactly how you feel. The difference is that you have a serious ability to put things into words. So more than anything, I thank you for that!

Laura said...

I've been reading you since your Club Mom days and in the scheme of things you just took a break. Ten years from now it will seem like a short one. Keep it up! In every way.

Pgoodness said...

Good for you! It's nice when the color comes back, isn't it? :)

Never That Easy said...

I'm ready to be surprised; I think I can do it. Thanks for posting this.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

Hope to be there soon. It sounds lovely over there.

And this weight is damn heavy.

Teresa said...

Thank you for being so brave, for sharing it & welcome aboard. It keeps getting better, because you get more tools to help u thru the not so better times. At 48, i think i am finally getting it. We have to have the bad with the good or we wouldn't appreciate the good. If we were totally "enlightened" beings, why would we even need to be here going thru all these life lessons? It took me a long time, but when i finally started putting me first, you bet there were a lot of changes. You know, they teach you that trick on an airline flight, so why we don't practice it in real life is because we aren't really taught that way. That takes a lot of "hard knocks" doesn't it? I finally love myself & that is an awesome place to be. Looks to me like with all these comments, you have had a bigger family with lots of shoulders...maybe more than you even knew. We will be here for you just like you have been for us & helped us thru the hard times & the good times too. My Mom always said "growing up ain't for sissies!" Well, she turns 80 this yr & i think i understand now what she means. I used to think life started in the 40's, now i am thinking maybe it is the 50's! (at least i started feeling like i fit in my own skin better in the 40's)!!

Melanie said...

Good for you - really, growing and changing are SO hard and so not fun and it sucks so much, but suddenly you step back and realize, like you did when your friend spoke up, how amazing it really all is, and how much better a person it can make you. The scars kind of give us color, you know? I've been on this same kind of path for the past year and it hasn't been a very fun year in so many ways, but it has also been an amazing year, a year of growing and testing my limits and going so far beyond what I ever thought I could do or be... Anyway, congratulations on sort of finding yourself, hippie as that is... you are awesome and I enjoy reading your blog so much, and I hope that you are going to start writing more again. I've missed your voice on the internet.

R. Molder said...

Thank you for sharing this, you are so brave!

Caryn said...

I'm so glad that things are turning around and that you're starting to see who you are now instead of wishing to be who you were.

Sometimes I look back on my old self and wish I were that way again. And then I think of all the mistakes I made because I was young and immature, and I realize that those qualities are the flip side of that old self. Frankly, when I think of what I've learned and who I've become I realize that I may not always be as wild, fun and carefree as I was, but in general I'm a much more mature, grounded individual, and am definitely wiser. I think I've become kinder, too. There's always a trade-off.

Lena said...

I forgot how much I love the people in my computer.

@Caryn: It's a trade off. EXACTLY.

Jessica Gottlieb said...

I just need to let you know that I'm reading and that I have a handful of friends I love more than I ever did.

We do age nicely, us ladies.

Julie Marsh said...

Life is good when we like the person we are. These are good surprises we're enjoying, aren't they?

Jessica R. said...

Such a beautiful post. I'm so glad you've come to this realization about yourself. It truly is freeing to just be yourself as you are today, not as you were back then or might be one day.
So happy for you.

j.sterling said...

i LOVE that the person you were talking to was brave enough to be honest with you. she could have easily smiled, agreed with you, and said yes- she missed the old you. but she was truthful.. a painful kind of truth. hell, i'd bake her a fucking cake. :)
i miss all the lena's.

SUEB0B said...

My pastor had a great analogy on Sunday. She said "If you stopped watching The Sound of Music too soon, you'd just think it was a story about a failed nun."

We all have our failures in the past, and things to work on even now. There is no shame in continuing to grow.


Kim Tracy Prince said...

Beautiful post. I usually don't see past your awesome hair. It IS mesmerizing, you know.

Amie aka MammaLoves said...

Oh I'm right there, right now. Writing for myself--not sharing the bad parts with the world, but ready to come back.

Glad to know it's possible.

Amanda said...

We improve, because as we get older, we recognize when things need fixin. This post needs no fixin' :)

sweatpantsmom said...

Okay, so I only spent 8 hours sitting on some hard bleachers on Hollywood Boulevard with you a year ago, but I've always known you're a badass.

Thanks for giving me something beautiful to read today.

Suburban Turmoil said...

You're back, and better than ever!


Geege said...

I'm so glad you want to share the new, improved, grown up you with us. I know we're all going to love her.

Glad you're back.

InkMom said...

It is a wonderful thing to be told, "Yay! You're back!" by someone who you did not even know existed. And also a little unnerving. But I'm glad you commented, because now I've found your little place . . . and it sounds like you're back from something, too. So yay for being back, in ways metaphorical, physical and . . . what the hey, metaphysical.

MickChick said...

Glad you had your "Aha!" moment. I've thought during many rough, sad times in my life, and told my sons this when they complained about things, that the world is a very hard place to live in sometimes. But if you ride out the difficult stretches and break through to the other side, it can also be a glorious place, a place you appreciate a lot more having worked hard for it. And think about this, Lena: by virtue of your having shared your funniest and saddest moments in your blog, you have a huge number of women out here in the ether you will absodamnlutely never meet face to face who think you're talented and funny, and who love you. That's gotta count for something. Fo shizzle, as my boys insist on saying.

Anonymous said...

I have missed your blog so much! I hope you come back because your blog was inspirational to me. Hope you are doing well!

Jay Ferris said...

I feel like the biggest douche in the world for not having commented on this post sooner.... in that respect, I suppose I have not changed all that much.

That being said, I'm all sorts of happy for you and this admittedly huge realization. Who knew growth could feel so good?!

Jen in Germany said...

What an awesome conversation with your friend! I am so glad to see this post and to read that you are well. I have been reading your posts for the past five years now. I hadn't read any blogs until I stumbled upon yours.

Anonymous said...

Who loves you? Me. Love, Aunty Smom

Watching The Paint Dry said...

I write all the time about parenting and aging "breaking me open" creatively. Very strange experience...I kept waiting to "get back to normal" so I could find some time to get inspired. It took me at least a year of stumbling to realize that I'm allowed to be vulnerable and inspired by my ACTUAL life. I could go on and on about patriarchal domination of the "the arts" too but that I'm saving for a major PMS day. Thanks for sharing. Keep walking down that road and don't stop!

Sheila Cameron said...

I just realized you posted this in April. I hope you find your way back and I hope you don't mind I'm sharing a little story about painting over something from 7 years ago. Circle back and complete it, any way you want...

Agent P or MamaJan said...

Thanks for writing this, Lena, I needed to hear it. Even though it's almost a year after you wrote it. Hugs.

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