Monday, January 31, 2011

Late Bloomer......

I used to call myself a late bloomer. Usually with a shrug of the shoulders and a sheepish grin.  My self-deprecating humor is one of the defense mechanisms, I use to put myself in my place, so you don’t get a chance to. This self proclaimed moniker came about due to my perception of  the order which life should flow.  This is how it should be....You’re born and move into a childhood of protected fun as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic.  As  you grow, you gradually learn essential tools encouraging movement from childhood into young adulthood; skills like sharing, patience, obeying the rules, and manners.  You become a teenager, forget all the rules because you now know they are not meant for you!  You date, fall in love, date fall in love, and move on and go to College.  When you leave College,  you get your dream job. Time for Prince Charming or Kim Kardishian to arrive. You marry. You work hard, buy a house, make a name for yourself, and have children.  Life evolves and so do you.  You discover most of what you paid bucks to learn in College, is relatively useless in your life today.  Late middle-age, you begin to suffer a few losses;  grandparents, possibly parents, some friends and through these trials you develop character traits such as compassion, appreciation, gratitude and perhaps, a thirst for discovering the meaning of your existence develops.  Also called a mid-life crisis.  You finish raising your family, maybe change jobs to pursue your purpose and live out your days in ecstasy knowing your life has been normal, orderly, because you  have made good decisions and  followed the timeline of civilized society.  Right?  Perhaps.  At least this was my interpretation of how a life got to be named “a life well lived.”  I liked the flow of it.  Its practical evolution made sense to me.  Because it sounded so perfect, THAT  was my expectation.  My real life never seemed to measure up to standard. Those milestones and that story, just didn't play out that way for me.  

I’ve lived so much of my life in reverse.  I was an old lady at 8, the emotional burden of my highly dysfunctional family and their problems resting on my small shoulders.  I really believe I was born old, and wise, a female Benjamin Button.  I also, romanticized... the stork had an anxiety attack at my delivery, freaked out, and accidentally dropped me into the wrong household.  But, later, in my teenage years, I discovered I really was adopted, by one parent (ahha... my stork story was a reality). Until.... I met my blood parent and didn’t seem to fit there either! Since, I was already a grown-up at puberty, it seemed fitting to get married at 19.   By then my immediate family had all gone their separate ways through divorce and addiction.  I was already quite skilled at taking care of others and their needs.  Why not start my own family?  I did and became a super responsible young wife and mom. Yet, no matter how hard I tried to create the picket fence life, with my husband and little daughter, others in my story found the picket fence confining.  It was not to be. I was  left to raise a daughter at age 26. I was brighter than average, but with my education predominately centering around the emotional care of others, I was really left floundering.   I escaped for a time into the arms of oblivion and addiction.  It was cozy to be unconscious for awhile.  Repercussions began to arise and bad things happened.  I wasn’t such a good caretaker anymore. I didn’t even have a clue how to take care of myself.  Six years later I emerged, ill and emotionally battered,  but addiction free.... a newborn baby (me) cohabiting with an adolescent daughter.  The adolescent daughter became a teenage daughter and I dated  right along with her.  Losses weren't new to me either, the majority of them happening before I turned 34. That part of the story wasn't  supposed to happen until I began getting grey and wrinkly.  I grieved as I watched grandmothers, aunts, uncles, some friends, and my own mother pass on.  By 45, I had lost my beloved soul mate too and this  left me reeling.  Recognizing  I had exhausted the luxury of becoming unconscious in pills and booze to numb my pain,  I spun out of a 17 year, successful career, right into the seat of higher education. College...the old lady in the classroom.  Experimental job hopping followed as well as rather unfulfilling man hopping. This became the new life for this 50 something year old woman.  I was living the life of a young twenty-something!  Is it any wonder I called myself a late bloomer?  
This revisit to a few of the chapters in my life was prompted by my long recovery process during my recent illness.  When I get lonely, I've been known to visit a very busy head, one which swirls with liveliness and activity.  It isn't always the best place to hang out if you're looking for good, clean, fun.  I can get into some serious trouble there.  Especially when the potty mouthed  brain cells gather and start a rumble.  This "late bloomer" label resurfaced one boring day as I indulged in a mental walk through the memoir of my life and times.  This little self-serving (with a larger than healthy dose of self-pity) day dream was interrupted as I noticed, and shook my head in disbelief at the blossoms on my Hibiscus plant resting in my kitchen bay window.  It's a tenacious little sucker! Admiring it gave me a whole new perspective on late blooming.  

I've had this plant for five years.  We have a little history.  When I first got it, it was stunning; flawless, shiny leaves, profuse colorful blossoms, perfectly poised on long stems.  It didn't stay that way.  Through the years, the plant got brown and sickly looking, leaves falling off onto the window sill.  Often, the spindly, barren stems indicated its days were numbered.  Sometimes, I'd make a concerted effort to nurse it back to health.  Other times, in disgust, I just unkindly ignored it and secretly wished it would just naturally expire completely.  It never does!  This summer it was gorgeous, lush and full.  By Fall, it was inflicted with little white mites all over its leaves.   Fed up, I stuck the plant out in an unheated room in the house with the secret hope it would just freeze out and die.  Post holiday, I hadn't checked on it in weeks, I went out into the room and there it stood.... mite free, budding, getting ready to  burst into full bloom!  I couldn't believe it! It's never followed a predictable pattern of development.  It grows, becomes lovely, regresses, looks ugly, grows again only to become the prettiest plant, no matter how I take care of it.  It's not seasonal.  There is no pattern.  It just grows and blooms when its time to grow and bloom.  It has no idea whether it's Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter of its little chlorophyll saturated life.  Pretty much like the progression of my life.  Perhaps we both have our seasons mixed up, or maybe our internal Source  guides our growth and progress based on our unique needs and contributions to this life.  

I’m not a late bloomer.  I’m kind of a perennial......... for all seasons.    
Our attempts at control and strictly ordering our life in a rigidly intentional manner, is relatively futile.  We have a destiny and a divine timeline that directs our soul towards a specific purpose. We are always right where we need to be, when we need to be. When we fight its flow or try so hard to swim upstream, when we get there, we often find we're exhausted and  it isn't what we anticipated anyway. The big picture is a puzzle. The discovery of what pieces fit and when they're placed doesn’t matter. Sometimes it's better and more fun to  take our time in figuring it out. Trying one after another, and re-trying later, after several others fall into place.   All that matters is that the puzzle will eventually come together in a sacred way.  Makes no difference that I was Yoda at 8, or that I went to College at 47.  It doesn’t matter that I was an overly responsible wife and mother at 19, then dated along with my teenage daughter at 34.  It's irrelevant that I finally found my soul mate at 38.  In my 50’s, I’ve jumped out of an airplane, savored a "sans clothing" spa, and flirted shamelessly with a cruise ship Captain, twenty years my junior.  Now, in my late 50’s, I'm  the inquisitive 5 year old driving my Higher Power crazy with my incessant why, why, why questioning. 
We all come from the same divine seed.  We push outward, we bud, we grow; tall and strong.  We bloom. We’re exposed to the elements, lose our leaves, shrivel and take cover underground for a time.  Somehow the soil gets  fertilized again, with hope; with new knowledge.  We catch a glimpse of the light and the warmth of our Creator. We timidly venture upward and outward, over and over again. We reach out,  a burning desire to, perhaps, pursue something we missed earlier on.  It’s taken all of our experiences, in no particular order, to create the beautiful, individual blooms of our unique life.   It’s the mites, the brown leaves, the cold air, and the dormancy that makes the blossoming so much lovelier, no matter how many years the plant has been around. 

Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Robert Thurman