For the longest time, I hated you.
I hated you for leaving and I hated myself for not being able to forgive. And then one day I did, but I could not forget.
I grew up always wanting to make you proud of me for who I am, not just how I improved your image to your friends. I did what I was asked and rarely complained. You preferred team sports over dance and made that clear by not attending any competitions or recitals. So I sacrificed my passion for dance in search of that affirmation that you were proud. I joined sports teams in the hopes that I'd look over to the sideline and see you there. Constantly I was living in a state of anxiety as I aimed to do everything possible to make you proud. Until one day, you were gone.
For a while, I felt that loss. On Mother's Day, I'd avoid social media knowing I'd be bombarded with all I miss out on daily without you in my life. At weddings, I'd worry about what my own big day would look like without you there doing all the mom things. Life just isn't the same with your mom, I've experienced that first hand.
Then, I completely blocked the idea of you out. Anytime I'd be asked about you, I would ignore or redirect the question. I went through a stage where I'd start playing classic rock on the radio until I came to my senses and shut off your favorite music. The songs we sang together. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with you or the parts that made me like you. Why? Simply put because you changed me. You made me afraid to let my walls down and afraid to let people see the real me. Because of you, I was unable to let anyone love me, including myself.
It took me a bit to realize I can be like you and not be you. Because part of what makes me who I am is you. And it's my experiences that help me learn and grow as a person if I let them.
So, thank you.
Thank you for the memories I can now look back and smile at. And thank you for helping to shape me into who I am today. I've learned to be strong. I've learned to stand up for myself. I've learned compassion and kindness, and I've gained a desire to always be there for those I care about. I'm learning to be more vulnerable. I'm happier. Most importantly, I'm learning to love myself while keeping in mind that I am loved for who I am. I don't need to be anything or anyone else. Despite the roller-coaster ride life has taken me on, I've turned out pretty great and I think finally I'd be making you proud.
But don't worry, I'm no longer stressing it.
I truly hope you are doing well wherever life has taken you.