Saturday, January 14, 2017

Finding Monica



Who are you? I've literally asked myself that question a thousand times over in the last almost three years. I've even had the The Who song (the one that is theme song on the TV show CSI) stuck in my head for months. You know the one: Well, who are you? Who are you? Who, who, who who? I really wanna know? (you're welcome for the ear worm, by the way).

When Dan died my whole world was turned upside down, and for a while, I felt like I'd lost myself.

I had so many unanswered questions. How would I support my children? Where would we live? What was I going to do with the rest of my life? Who am I? Fortunately some of those questions were answered within a few days but two critical ones remained:
  1. What was I going to do with the rest of my life?
  2. Who am I?
I really had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But I did know one thing with utter certainty:

I did not want to spend the rest of my life as Lieutenant Colonel Bobbitt's widow.

Of course I will always be Dan's widow but that is not WHO I am, and it's certainly not WHAT I do (which is a good thing because I'm actually a pretty mediocre widow and when I do something, I usually don't do it by half measures.)

I am so much more than what I have lost. I am not just Dan's widow as I was not just Dan's wife.

I am not what happened to me.

Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

I do. And much more importantly I know who I am now. And who I am is who I want to be.

Widowhood forced me to evaluate not just my life, but who I am fundamentally as a person. I have gotten to know myself really well over the last few years. The good, the bad, the ugly. And as it turns out, I actually like myself, and I'm proud of the woman I have become.

Inside, I'm still Monica but I'm a different version of her then I was three years ago. This is the Monica who knows all too well that life can change in one tragic moment, and so she no longer takes anything for granted. This one is more grateful and more compassionate. This is the Monica who loves fearlessly and fiercely. The one who says what she thinks (okay that hasn't changed, I just do it much more publicly now.) The one who isn't afraid to take risks or to try new things. The one who refuses to live life with regrets. This Monica is much more self assured and confident. She knows not only who she is but where she wants to be and what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

This is the gift widowhood has given me.

It has given me Monica.

None of us could possibly say we are exactly the same person as we were when we were say twenty, before life happened. I know I can't. I'm definitely not the same person I was back then. Before I became a wife. Before I became a mother. Before I became a widow.

Once upon another life, I wanted to be a counselor. I went to university, wrote my thesis, graduated, and then I got married. Dan finished his training and we moved to a military town with no university nearby. And that was that. As is sometimes (often) the case, my career aspirations were put on hold for Dan's military career. I always planned to go back to school, eventually. But of course eventually never came, as it so rarely does. Postings, children, deployments, there was always a reason not to start, and eventually, with each passing year, my desire to be a counselor faded away. I've never once regretted that decision. I was actually happy I could stay home with my kids, I liked being there for them when they came home from school, I still do (except for when they come home cranky). In a life that was often fraught with upheaval, I was the one constant in their lives. But now they are starting their own grown up lives. Next year my baby will go off to university and I will be an empty nester, starting another chapter of my life.

It took me a while but I finally figured out who I am and what I want to do with the rest of  my life

Eventually is finally here. Next week I start my first university course since I graduated many moons ago. Not in counseling, I ruled that one out. It takes a very special kind of person to be a counselor and I know that's not me. Counseling clients day in and day out is emotionally intense. I'm not sure I would ever be able to leave all of that sadness at the office door. I am taking a psychology course though, in human resilience and when VAC sorts out my paperwork, I will start my certificate in creative writing.

Because as it turns out, what I really want to do with my life is exactly what I've been doing for the last year. Writing, speaking, advocating.

Funny how the answer was staring me right in the face the whole time.

I love people. I love talking to them and hearing their stories. I love being able to help them find perspective for their problems. I love giving back. I am so fortunate I've been given an opportunity to do all of those things.

And as for the other question.

Who am I?

I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend, military widow, writer, speaker, blogger, advocate, student. I am all of those things and so much more. And most importantly, I am exactly who I have chosen to be.

I am Monica.


"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."~ Carl Jung

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