Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Fast Forward to post undergrad life. I was working forty plus hours a week, doing an online master program and coaching three soccer teams. Typical for me at this time in my life, I was always constantly running around from one thing to another.
For some reason I was always making my self busy from morning til night. I made sure through all of that work to still maintain relationships with my friends and family… be social.. go out (who needed sleep). I can’t say that I wasn’t enjoying my life because I was. In those moments there were a handful of things I wished I noticed or even took the time to be present for and understand. This part of my journey was all about filling my days, and less about understanding why I was doing any of it. Which leads me into one of the toughest moments in my life. When my brother (step brother) passed away in 2014 it broke me in many ways that I didn't even know were possible. Losing a member of your tribe is difficult. Especially because we were close, and then we weren’t (we fought and cared about each other like most siblings do).
Most people don't understand what this loss did to me (as I have only ever talked about it to two or three people). His loss was one of the most impactful moments in my life. The last conversation I can remember, my brother having with a friend of his, was one where he said, "His sister was getting her masters, and that he was so proud." That was the first time I can actually say I realized how much he paid attention to me and cared about me.
I just thought I was the little sister who had the strict rules while he got to go out and about and do whatever he wanted growing up.
The day I found out that he passed away I had dropped our little brother off to football practice and started coaching our little sister’s soccer practice. I always put my cell phone in my bag and leave it there til practice is over. Where were my parents in this situation…all I knew was that my parents were busy, which, I thought meant they were just visiting him. It wasn't til after practice when I took out my cell phone and looked at my messages that I found a text from a friend sending their condolences. Thankful that one of my best friends coached this soccer team with me.. I yelled to her.. I said “read this.. what does this mean”..I started to panic.. because I was still in charge of my two younger siblings. I called my mom to find out what the hell was going on and why she didn’t tell me. I have no idea how that phone conversation or how the moments of getting myself together to drive both my younger siblings home went. I sort of went through the motions the rest of that day.. in shock.
When you have two younger siblings, and a dad who doesn’t process his feelings well it leads for an interesting home dynamic. I felt that it was my job to stay strong for my younger siblings, while my mom, was staying strong for our dad. I didn’t ever give myself time to process the current situation or really understand what my feelings were.
In understanding my journey over the past few years I have been able to understand the thoughts and feelings I was having surrounding this. Without my brother I didn't know if I belonged in my family anymore… I didn't think I had a place in our family. In my mind we were two equal parts in our family and without him I didn't feel as if I had any relevance. Our house became what I felt like, was one of those households that was sad all the time (everyone was grieving and handling it in their own ways). There was absolutely no change in how I handled my life.. I continued to fill my time.. avoided coming home and/or just had random outburst of anger. Honestly the best way to describe me at this time was moody.. on a rollercoaster of emotions.. also on top of it all I felt like I needed to disappear. I can honestly say that this was the point in my life that I would learn a handful of lessons that would eventually make me stronger than I had ever been; mentally and physically. A handful of months later, before I would turn twenty-five I ended up quitting my job I was at, (despite anyones opinions on it) and I booked a flight to Colorado. On that trip a handful of different things occurred, in which I am forever grateful. I came back from that trip feeling a little bit more relieved. I felt like I loved the idea of being able to go and adventure and see new things but I also realized that I needed to find another job. When I returned, I started working at the quickest job I could find.. and that was as a substitute teacher. While doing that I also made a promise to myself that I would not miss a single one of my younger sibling milestones in their lives. I felt that I needed to.. that I owed it to them and to our brother to be there for them in every way that I possibly could. I didn’t think I ever spent enough time with my brother before he passed away and I blamed myself for a long time.. that our connection could have been better.. we could have been closer.. that I could have some how stopped the situation from happening. That is why I made a promise.. or I would say settled for the life that I could create around them. I made a commitment to my family, and in doing so I started neglecting my commitment to myself.
I wouldn't say that I stopped living my life but I allowed a lot of my life from the age of twenty-five to twenty-seven to just happen. Those years would include some of the worst and best memories of my journey. Sometimes it takes just one choice.. good or bad.. one conversation with someone outside your normal circle, to really open up your eyes. For me I have always had strong ideas, and opinions on certain things but I have always remained open and supportive of others who have different ideas and opinions that are unlike mine. We are so used to calling things mistakes.. but I realized that they are actually just a choice, regardless if it was a mistake or not.. I have made a bunch of different choices. With each choice I have always been accountable, whether it was a good one, or a bad one.
Most that know of my journey or of me.. will read these two blogs and think.. she left a whole lot of her journey out. Truth is.. I left some of it out on purpose because I have many other ideas for future blogs.
Reflecting back on my journey I have realized that every choice I have made has lead me to a new direction or to something new to learn/gain in transitioning from one part to the next.