“Don’t change” the note said. It went on…” I’m sorry about your dad…Don’t change.”
Two days prior everything had changed. My father’s time was now finite. My father. My one advocate in this world. The person that fought my case to my brothers, to my mom and to me. He saw me for who I was and who I could be and he, he was dying.
Those weeks between knowledge and finality are a blur of emotion, confused, maybe, by the coming of womanhood that would present just days after his passing. I entered my teenage years sitting on the floor next to his bed, my sister claiming the spot next to him. On my birthday, I sat alone on the floor next to the person who was my lifeline. He was dying.
Trauma, like acid that seeps into the fat cells of a drug addict, has a way of presenting itself in surprising places. You’re never quite without it. What isn’t sweat out or cried out just finds another place to lie in wait. Trauma changes you.
“Don’t change.” She said. “I miss ‘fun Lexi.” I was heavily pregnant with my third son. My middle was 18 months and had just been diagnosed with autism. Those first months of his screams still sing in my ears. The ache of not being able to soothe my beautiful blue eyed boy etched the surface of my heart. It changed me.
“You’ve changed” he said. Someone whose opinion matters more than it should. Whose words cut deeper because I allow the knife in. I let him hurt me. Enough. Instead of being sorry for the change, for once, I embrace it.
Of course I’ve changed. Until you have spent night after night praying for release from pain, from grief, from worry to a God that does not answer, don’t tell me not to change. Stand with me or just let. me. be. Let me be different. The challenges I have faced in my life have opened me up to a world where depth is the higher power. Where understanding, empathy and love rule and where obedience is a four letter word. I am cynical and I am sad. But I am open to a world that is more vibrant than I could have imagined. Where success stops being based on expectations, isn’t flaunted with money, status, or even with knowing that you’ve done everything the way you were supposed to.
No, success is changing. Is growing. Is becoming who you were meant to be because of hardship, not in spite of it. I am a patchwork of broken pieces. I have crumbled too many times in my life to count, and have swept myself back together in the form of who I am today. I stand ready to fall. Ready to break. Ready to pick up the pieces of who I am and reassemble them into the person that life is making me. That CHANGE is making me.
I will not apologize for who I am. I will not apologize for my scars. I will not apologize for ripping this blog –this extension of me- to pieces in an effort for authenticity. I like who I’ve assembled myself to be.
And I love my life. Depth in pain means greater depth of joy. Learning at just thirteen how finite life can be has made me appreciate the love of my family every single day I get with them. Hours spent aching to soothe an autism that raged has made the simple act of calming my children to sleep a gift. And losing faith has worked in me a spirituality that is new, quiet, calm, and beautiful. That bends and shapes then reshapes itself into me, and not the other way around.
I have changed.
I will continue to change.