This blog post is a compilation of different personal journal entries. As I toyed with the idea of writing a year-in-review post, I decided I would much rather write a piece that summarises my year in a more raw and vulnerable manner. Not as a way of seeking pity, for I am not a victim, but rather in the hope that someone might find value in it. So I turned to my journal for inspiration and came up with this piece instead. I titled it ‘Healing Amidst Life’s Challenges’ because 2023 embodied just that. A year of healing, despite the trials life threw my way, and a year of self-discovery.
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Reflections Of A Forty-Five Year Old
I just turned forty-five. Not even going to attempt to wrap my head around how quickly my life seems to be flying by. It’s a common topic of conversation among adults, isn’t it? One day you are a twenty-something, and then, in the blink of an eye, the woman staring back at you in the mirror is someone you hardly recognise. That’s exactly where I found myself last year. Lost, struggling to keep my head above water, desperately seeking a lifeboat, a lifeline. Hoping that someone, anyone, would extend a hand and offer me a respite from the struggles that seemed to invade my life and the darkness that took residence in my mind.
Around that same time, life decided to challenge me… again. Looking back, I realize the deep-rooted presence of the victim mentality within me. A series of unfortunate circumstances brought about a sense of gloom and despair. I had spent years dwelling in the bottomless hole of negativity. Every unfortunate situation that occurred in my life seemed to play on repeat, followed by the usual tireless narrative, ‘Why me?’
And why the hell not, Milly?
Acceptance, Love And Forgiveness
Turns out the Universe or God (whatever it is you believe in) does love me. However, before I could come to terms with that concept, I had to learn to love myself. Not an easy task! Hard work! It’s probably the most excruciating emotional and mental pain I have ever felt. Learning to love myself. Healing from the trauma others had bestowed on me, unknowingly, but still, trauma nonetheless. Believing that I am good. A good daughter, wife, friend and above all, mother. Letting go of deep-seated beliefs that suggested any misfortunes in my life were rightfully earned. I had to find a way to co-exist with myself. A way to embrace both the good and the bad that comes along with being a human being. And I did…….
Anxiety – The Demon That Lives In My Head
Anxiety has been a constant companion throughout my life. However, by the end of 2022, and amplified by certain circumstances, it had reached overwhelming levels, filling me to the brim. My fear of the unknown was feeding it like relentless fuel, intensifying its grip on my thoughts and emotions. There were days I didn’t want to be myself. A feeling I would not wish on anyone. I was uncomfortable in my own skin, I wanted out. My thoughts, a storm in the middle of nowhere. I felt isolated from the world, even though I was surrounded by an amazing group of supportive family and friends.
In moments of despair and as a tool for solace and clarity, I turn to journaling. While attempting to capture my emotions, I ended up writing a piece that I later titled “It’s Happening To ME!” Reflecting on that journal entry now, it’s astonishing to comprehend the profound and sombre tone of my words, revealing how deeply entangled I was in my own circumstances. Every word I wrote was tainted by darkness. My mind, was far gone, roaming in a world of worst-case scenarios. My thoughts became my own worst enemy. And then… a lifeline!
(Maybe one day I will publish that piece, maybe!)
Lifeline….In The Most Unexpected Of Places
Sometimes you meet people who are only meant to be in your life to teach you something, and then they leave. I read that somewhere and I couldn’t agree more. But, other times you meet people who are meant to change your life, for the better. I have been quite fortunate in this department. I have a plethora of people who love and support me and have changed my life for the better. My children and my husband for starters……but I also have a friend who has made an incredible contribution to the quality of my so-called life. A lifeline, someone who extended their hand and offered me the respite I so badly needed! Someone who provided me with the necessary tools to shift my beliefs and step into a world of endless possibilities. A friend who taught me how to trust!
Brenda and I have been friends for years. Our daughters have been friends for longer than that. However, it wasn’t until last year that we became close. You see, my friend, although a qualified therapist, is oh so much more than that. She is light and love and wisdom all wrapped around an almighty heart. Brenda became a safe space for me and my troubled mind. I was never judged, instead, I was heard, and most importantly I was showered with love and compassion. For the first time in my life, I felt seen. I wasn’t crazy, I was just lost. My friend, helped me find my way.
Over the past year, Brenda has proudly observed as I courageously set fear aside, spread my wings, and blossomed into the woman I was always meant to be. We share an ongoing inside joke. According to her, I’m her No. 1 student, a title I proudly embrace.
Curveballs And All That….
Life will throw curveballs my way; that much I know to be true. Such is life, and there is no avoiding it. However, now I know how to face future trials with grace. I now possess a deep-rooted trust that everything is working for me. All is well.
So, allow me to share a glimpse of who I once was, the person I’ve transformed into, and what I have achieved this year!
The Silent Chapters of My Youth
I am unsure where the belief that I wasn’t good enough stemmed from. My parents showered me with love; I wanted for nothing. There were no conflicts at home that I can remember. I was a quiet child who enjoyed the solitude of her bedroom, immersed in the enchanting realms of books and their imaginary worlds. Looking back now, I was blessed with a happy childhood. However, somewhere along the way, insecurity dug its claws into my mind and shaped the remainder of my youth.
During my school years, I was never fortunate enough to come across a teacher who believed in me and my potential. On the contrary, I was made to believe, in one way or another, that I wasn’t that bright. Thus, the light that shone high and bright in the confines of my bedroom slowly dimmed outside of it. I second-guessed everything I did and coated all my actions with a layer of humour and sarcasm. I assumed the role of comic relief for those in my circle, hiding my insecurities behind my laughter, and the broken pieces of myself behind a smile.
As I reflect on my young adult years, it seemed like a relentless series of blows. I lost myself completely in the complexity of my life and the misfortunes that surrounded it. Eventually, I became a mere shadow of who I used to be, ashamed, alone, and insecure. Every time life tested me, the belief that I deserved it became more and more embedded in my soul. To the extent that I’d even say, I was afraid to truly live. The world was too much for me, and I was hurting every single day.
Beyond Comfort Zones
Stepping into 2023 I decided, enough was enough. I was tired of living in fight-or-flight mode. It was time to find a better way of living. A time to take a leap of faith and prove to myself what I was capable of.
The decision to launch The Opinionated Magpies Blog was a scary one and way out of my comfort zone. Having my friend Colleene hold my hand whilst embarking on this adventure, was a blessing. Both of us were feeling vulnerable, but we loved each other enough to encourage the other to keep moving forward. I wasn’t doing this alone, so if I failed, it wouldn’t feel so lonely.
However, while I was busy finding myself and learning new stuff, a shift occurred and I came to realise a few things:
- Yes, I am THAT bright.
- Hello? I can do anything I set my mind up to do.
- I won’t be winning a Nobel prize any time soon…..but I CAN write.
- If everything else fails, I can always become a graphic designer.
- There’s a special kind of freedom that comes when you stop caring what others think of you.
- I can do hard stuff, even during hard days.
- Life doesn’t need to be a struggle.
- I learned to trust—trust that life is happening exactly for me and not to me, and trust myself and what I am capable of.
- How freaking strong I am.
- When in doubt, check Youtube 🙂
- Gratitude is my driving force.
Oh What A Magnificent Year I Have Had
And yet, some may ask, ‘But haven’t you had health issues this year?’ To which I will reply, ‘Yes… but it has still been the best year ever.’
Every challenge I faced this year taught me to trust and believe that everything happens for a reason. I also learned that there is no better moment than the present to LIVE! Live now, smile, laugh, do that thing that scares the bejesus out of you… jump, take a leap of faith, forgive, LOVE without restraints, be kind! Book that holiday, follow your dreams, believe in yourself, see the magic of every single day, and be grateful for all that you have!
And so, this is what I did:
- Designed and created a website.
- Stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote personal blogs like ‘Creating Memories With My Daughter’ and ‘A Journey Of Shared Milestones’. And guess what? Our followers loved them!
- Had a medical procedure that scared me, but still managed to smile through it all.
- Embarked on a solo plane journey! (Yes, I am terrified of flying and of travelling alone, my sense of direction is not the best).
- I chopped my hair off and donated it to the Princess Trust Foundation!
- Danced at a Beyonce concert without caring who was watching.
- Went on impromptu trips with my husband and kids.
- Indulged in loads and loads of delicious food….and didn’t care once about the calories.
- Watched my daughter graduate and felt an immeasurable amount of pride and gratitude.
- Booked a 10-day cruise for 2024, without blinking an eye at the financial implications.
- Set aside my never-ending to-do list when I’m spending time with my kids or my grandkids.
- Evenings with friends, spa getaways, lunch outings, coffee meetups—anything you can think of—my social calendar has been overflowing. (please note I am a self-proclaimed introvert)
- When asked about what I do, I proudly tell people I am a blogger and a writer, without feeling insecure about it. I am owning it!
- I decided to finally dive in and write that book, a story that has been slowly developing in my mind.
- I smiled through it all, even on the days when I was feeling scared, and especially on the days when I was hurting!
What Comes Next?
Erm, I don’t know hahahaha. If I did, life wouldn’t be an adventure, would it? What I do know is, that whatever comes next is surely good, because why expect the worst?
As far as dreams and goals go, Colleene and I will continue to work hard on our blog. We will carry on writing, hoping that somewhere within our words, we inspire other women like us and you! There might be a few other projects in the pipeline, but you will have to wait and see!
And then, there’s always that book that is very slowly taking shape. With everything else I am juggling, I have a feeling it will be years before I put it out into the world, but I am in no rush. Writing this book is more for my own benefit. A way to prove to myself that I can and I will.
This piece wasn’t easy to write. Well, let me rephrase that. It was easy to write; however, the part I struggle with the most is knowing that others will read it too. Although I am not afraid of being judged, I am a private person, and all this might seem like too much. Who cares anyway, right?
But, someone might care, someone might enjoy it. Furthermore, someone might benefit from it, and that for me is more than enough. I am done having doubts or feeling insecure.
And so, as I wrap up this blog post, I ask myself, ‘How much heartbreak and pain could I have avoided if I had the tools I do today?’ Probably loads! However, without all the heartbreak and the challenges, I wouldn’t be me. And this present version of me is pretty awesome, and I like her. In fact, I love her, flaws and all.
I genuinely hope that this blog post has offered you a glimmer of hope in a world where the expectation is to be ‘exceptional,’ to have everything figured out, and to possess all the answers. It often feels overwhelming and utterly exhausting.
And if you need to talk, rant, or find a better way to navigate through life, don’t be afraid to reach out. I promise you, there is always someone willing to help.
Much love always,
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