I am the big sister who became mother to her two youngest brothers and sometimes her own mother when she was 14.
I am the maternal granddaughter of a strong, independent, smartass woman who raised me as her daughter, loved the hell out of me, taught me grace, and whom I am still getting to know eleven years after her death.
I am fat and have been to some degree my entire life. I am also an emotional eater and struggle with disordered eating and thoughts about my body. My body is the female equivalent of my strong, broad father.
I am a child of divorce.
I am a southerner to the core from my deep love of college football (Roll Tide!) to my homemade pimento cheese to my thick but, so I’ve heard, charming, soothing accent.
I am a college graduate even though I feel like my Bachelors in English-Creative Writing at the University of South Alabama was more like a degree in electives like softball, yoga, aerobics, nutrition, and introduction to music business with one semester of writing crammed in at the end so my degree had some relevance when I graduated with it. But hey, I got to spend a lot of time at the beach.
I am a wife to my husband of two years and partner of six years, John. I waited for him until I was 28 years old and that long wait played a huge role in who I am as a wife and as an independent woman.
I am a Christian? Yeah, maybe. I’ll write more about that later.
I am an anxious and depressed person. Overanalytical. Maybe a little obsessive-compulsive. A control freak. My nails would agree. I’ve been worrying and biting them in response since I was a small child. It’s how I cope.
I am a huge weather geek, especially about severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and snow.
I am currently a barista at Starbucks after 17 years of sitting in an office and behind a computer, living both the state government and corporate/private sector life.
These are all facets of my identity, pieces of the puzzle that make me who I am. They’re just a few pieces.
I’ve spent nearly 35 years telling myself stories and also allowing others to dictate my life and who I am.
I’ve blogged about my life for the past 16 years across at least seven blogs. Writing is my lifeblood and lifesaver. I can’t not write. I can’t not document my life to some degree.
I guess this is where I say, I am a writer. It doesn’t feel like it when I haven’t written any stories in years, songs in about a decade, or even in a blog for about a year, but even when I’m not writing regularly, I am a writer.
For blog #8, I want to take on the stories I’ve told myself my entire life. Look at them from the perspective of a woman nearing her mid-30s. See how my life experiences have defined me but also take out the trash, so to speak.
Even as open and vulnerable and honest as I’ve been in past blogs, new truths are emerging constantly and many have frightened me and I have been frightened and maybe even ashamed to share them.
I want this blog to be for me. Sure, if people want to read it, that’s fine, but the trap I often get caught in over time is writing for my audience. Tying things up in a pretty bow. Making it seem like I’m all right or I’ll be right. Sometimes saying I don’t know how I feel when I’ve decided but feel afraid to say so. Trying not to offend anyone or piss anyone off or get messages of concern over the salvation of my soul.
I’m almost 35.
I’m not the 14-year-old caretaker anymore.
I’m not the single 27-year-old who moved to Georgia to start a life of her own.
I’m not the 7-year-old who believed her first crush only wanted to be her friend because “boys that cute don’t want a girlfriend who weighs 75 pounds” or the 21-year-old whose mother told her the guy she was in love with in college wouldn’t date her because he didn’t want a fat girlfriend.
I am not the 11-year-old who went to the front of the church with her great-grandfather who cried while I recited the Sinner’s Prayer.
But those versions of me are the words, the sentences that have turned into paragraphs that fill the pages of the story of me. They are locations on my life’s journey. I carry a small piece of each one of those versions along with me, along with the hurt, anger, loss, moments of courage and triumph, love, fear, and lessons.
The stories I tell myself break my heart, crush my spirit, but also remind me of all I have and can overcome.
The stories I will re-tell will change my perspective, I believe, and will help me let go. They will tell my new truths.
They will set me free.