When I was in my early twenties I lived alone in a run-down, yet comfortable, one bedroom flat. It was in its smoke filled, lounge room I experienced my first real heartbreak. I remember him walking away. I remember falling to the floor and sobbing; big, guttural cries. For weeks, I would rush home from work and lock myself away from the world, drink cask red wine, smoke joints and inhale packets of cigarettes. I stopped eating. I remember I’d only eat lunch and wouldn’t allow myself any other food. I drank the rest of my daily recommended calories and then I cried them all out – night after night, day after day. Tears of loss, embarrassment and sorrow.
And then slowly, I began to eat more. I started opening my windows. I began sitting outside in the sunshine and accepting offers to go out for dinner. I drank less. I cried less. My jeans stopped falling down. My eyes sparkled with joy, rather then clouded with pain. I came out the other end a different person.
At night, I’d sit on my front step in my t-shirt and knickers. I’d look up at the sky and find “my star” and I’d ask the universe to send me the love of my life. It was the same wish every night. My career was solid. My lifestyle comfortable. I had tasted love and I was greedy for more. I wanted forever. Every night, night after night, I’d make that same wish. For months, I’d will the universe to grant me fulfilment. And then one glorious night in a smoke-filled pub, my wish was granted.
Now, as I near my forties with my love and our three children, a mortgage and a hectic life, I often forget to find quiet time alone. I find myself listening to my children’s wishes and forgetting to add my own to the list. And when I do wish now, it’s always the same wish – I wish for good health and happiness for my family. They are without a doubt the most important wishes.
Yet, I’ve been thinking it’s time for some new wishes; ones just for me and no-one else. But somewhere in the past 15 years I’ve forgotten what my dreams are. Is it an age thing? Or is it a parent thing? Do I spend so much time worrying, and hoping, for those around me that I’ve simply put my own dreams on the back-burner? Is it selfish to put myself first again? Is this part of what Isabella Dutton meant when she said she regretted having children? Did she instead mean she regretted losing herself? How many of you reading this, have lost yourself in your children’s lives? The same goes for people lost in their careers. Have you built a life outside of the 9-5? When you dream of your future – are you doing what you love? Do you even know what you wish for anymore?
I do not regret having children. They are the best creation I’ll ever be a part of. Yet, I wonder when they all grow up and move on, will I feel fulfilled in my choices (a topic tackled wonderfully by Jane Caro recently)? I’m slowly taking steps to ensure I am not lost in their lives. My husband and I have plans for our future and we are not afraid of being left empty, sucked into a void of nothingness, when our children find independence. The only fear I have is not being around to watch them grow, hence my recurring wish of good health and happiness. Yet, I do know I need to start being more serious about my own dreams.
So, if you see me sitting on my front step, in a t-shirt with my boobs resting on my thighs, just know I am finding “my star” again. I’m whispering to the universe to help me find my drive and desire. I am asking for directions to rediscover my passions outside of my family. I have an example to set my girls. I have a future to create for myself full of creativity, kindness, new experiences and wish fulfilment. I want them to look at me when they’re older and know I never lost myself in them, instead I showed them how to be brave enough to pursue any adventures they set their heart on. I want to teach them to dream bigger.