The words aren't that new. Not new at all. And yet, after John Paul II's death, I read that he spoke those words when he first became Pope. I don't remember them. I was only fifteen and so naive. It was also a very long time ago. If I did hear them at the time, I most certainly forgot all about them. And his words, even after his death, reached out to me for I had so often said them to myself. So afraid. But do not be afraid. They are not new words. And his message was for many others the world over. And even though they've been said over and over again, even in the bible, I still can't help but feel that they say something to me now. Now. But what use are such words, spoken or written, if they just touch our hearts for a moment and are then forgotten?
I mustn't forget them.
People do change. I realise that now. Well, I've realised that for some time. I used to think that people couldn't change, that individuals remained more or less the same unless some terrible tragedy befell them. Lives can, and do, change. And people do change. Sometimes we are transformed. Sometimes it is the tragedies that change our lives. Sometimes it is an event as simple as the birth of a child or the death of a parent. And sometimes lives change - and sometimes the person is also changed - because of the decisions we make. It could be the right or wrong decision. And sometimes we don't find out until much later how much our lives have changed, or even how much we have changed. And we wonder if it is too late to go back and start all over again. But we can't go back. We can start again but we can never go back. Time moves forward, never backwards. One always knows that, yet one still longs for that. Sometimes.
Second chances. If we could do it differently all over again, we would. Wouldn't we? But how could we do it differently unless we could go back in time? And if we did go back in time, would we really do it all differently? Or would we make the same decisions, take the same actions, which would lead to the same mistakes again? And if we could go back, would someone else's mistakes not affect us? Or would that someone else not make that same mistake as well? But how could he not unless he, too, had gone back in time and swore to do things differently.
An introspective nature. Is that what I have? I certainly prefer it to "self-absorbed" as someone close to me described me on more than one occasion. And it hurt for I didn't like the sound of it. He had read some of these pages, pages that were deeply personal but not without some censorship already. Maybe it wasn't so much what he said but how he said it. It was a criticism, a bad thing. Whether that was how he meant it or not didn't matter. It was how he made me feel. Touche. Ah well, perhaps I am self-absorbed after all, thinking only of myself. I have a distaste for that word. I do. But if that is how he sees me, if that is who I am, then that is who I am. I can't run away from that. I think I much prefer introspective.
Self-examination. I like that. I've always been introspective, since I was young. I went deep into myself, talking to myself about myself, as well as talking to myself about others. I kept myself company.
I have my own opinions about certain issues but I am more keen to share my experiences. That was why I first started this homepage. If I couldn't share within a support group, if I was reluctant about sharing so openly, I could at least share within these pages. Plus I'm better at expressing myself in the written word rather than the spoken word especially about such personal issues. These pages exist because I wanted to share both my struggles and triumphs. These pages exist because I wanted to write. And these pages exist because there was a voice within that sometimes begged to be heard. And even then, I couldn't write under my true identity. Out of consideration for others, as well as fearful of being found out, a big part of me still wanted, and needed, to conceal myself. I wanted to be free, but I also wanted to feel safe. Was I ever really safe?
Maybe it isn't so much about being safe anymore. Maybe it is about making myself heard after having stayed silent for so long. Depending on who I'm with, I have been known to be a chatterbox, telling my stories, opinions, and what-have-you, gesticulating to make my point. And he called me "Woodstock," as I reminded him of Snoopy's little yellow, feathered friend who kept twittering away at him. The thought of it actually tickled me.
I think I would rather be "Woodstock" than "self-absorbed."
There is no going back. There is only moving forward. And yet, I haven't really moved that much forward in fourteen years. Actually, I have. I really have. And yet I really haven't either. I tell myself, and I tell others, that I have grown in ways I never thought possible. It is all true. Grown. How? For better? Worse? Stronger? Wiser? Or still foolish at times? Still an innocent, easily duped by those who are more familiar with the ways of the world? And yet not so innocent, swaying to the rhythm of the siren that dwells within? All of it, I suppose.
Along the way, my faith seems to have taken another route. I'm not sure what sort of route it is but I chose to turn a corner somewhere along the way. The corners are everywhere, aren't they? Why place emphasis on that particular corner? Because I chose to take it. And it changed things. It changed me. Not in a dramatic way. Yet I'm still the same. And yet I'm not. It seems as if I have made progress, and at the same time, regressed, in different areas of my life.
I tell myself that I never stopped believing in Him, that I never stopped talking to Him, praying to Him. And that I even felt Him working in my life. I have experienced Him in my life. Or I'm sure it was Him. It has to be. Even the tiniest hint of doubt can create a chasm. Or it feels that way. So I ask for faith. I ask for certainty. I even ask for signs and I know that I shouldn't or another tells me that I place way too much emphasis on signs. Yet others have received signs. So why not me? Or do I not recognise it when a sign is presented to me? And if I don't recognise it, what does it mean?
I ask too many questions. Maybe when I'm finally laid to rest in the earth, these five words can be inscribed on my headstone: She asked too many questions.
I still have more questions. Unfortunately. It wouldn't be such a terrible thing if they were intelligent, thought-provoking questions. Sometimes they're repetitive. Or even silly, as if they were asked by a child. Oh, if only I had a child-like faith. That would change everything too, wouldn't it. What happened? If I experienced Him in my life, surely that means something? Surely that means I am growing in my faith? Then why do I feel so unsure, even afraid? And still so terribly insecure? Why do I still not trust enough?
And am I really afraid of intimacy? It is one thing to cuddle and hold one another or to stand oh, so close together. Holding hands seems intimate enough. But true intimacy ... what is that? The fear of intimacy. Having heard them often enough, I can just parrot those four words but I wonder if I truly know what it means. I know that I don't - can't - refuse - to share everything with the one that I should be sharing with. After all, we made vows together on our wedding day. And for the longest time, I've shyed away from sharing my faith with him. I could confide, and yes, even share, but there were also boundaries. I wanted a Catholic husband. I wanted a Catholic marriage. And still I can't completely share with him. I don't trust enough. It must mean that I haven't been honest with him all these years, even before our marriage. If my faith is that important to me, and his faith is that important to him, why can't I seem to share that part of me? Or isn't he the one I want to share with?
My body is changing. I can even feel the changes. And it frightens me a little. One day, everything will completely change. And even though I doubt that I will ever conceive a child, at least there is that tiny, tiny, tiny hope that I seem to cling to. Even though, or even if, it never happens, the idea that it is a possibility brings some comfort. A strange sort of comfort. One day, it will truly be too late.
There are married couples with children who are unhappy. There are married couples without children who are happy. I have observed both. But I mustn't forget the families who love one another, totally delighted to be in each other's company. There are ups and downs, and life-changing moments. And no doubt it isn't always easy. But they stay together and are truly committed to one another. They are a family. Having children does not guarantee happiness or satisfaction. Then why do I have this need, this longing, this ache, inside? It is even a little difficult to watch television commercials which feature children laughing or playing or even being scolded by their parents. How lovely, I think, to have a family, even if it's just make-believe in a commercial. Or the television series about a young, unwed mother raising her teenaged daughter and they are the best of friends, telling each other everything. Mother and daughter. I found myself envying their relationship, envying that young mother who is a character on a tv show, for heaven's sakes. And I found myself wishing that I had such a daughter, wishing that my daughter and I were also close friends and confided in one another. And then I would also think about my own mother and the ache sometimes deepened.
Would I, or could I, have created life with someone else? Would it have been different with someone else? I realise that I bring myself with me - and all the rubbish within - wherever I go, to every relationship I enter. Would I, or could I, have enjoyed it more with someone else? Would the relationship not be so emotionally charged? Would we not be cruel to each other at times or misunderstand the other so easily? Are these even fair questions to ask? They may not be fair but I can't deny that I have asked them. I've also wondered if perhaps I should have remained unmarried. Maybe all these yearnings and wonderings come about precisely because I am married.
If I were an unmarried woman, maybe I would have some of the yearnings after a while, and at a certain age. But would they be this strong and sometimes overwhelming? I always believed in marriage first, then children. No marriage, no children. But what do I know as I once even thought that I would never want children. And if I really thought that at the time, maybe I should never even have considered marriage, let alone actually getting married.
Never in my life did I think that I would, nor could, be this way. What way is that? To be at this point in my life where I would ask such questions and entertain such thoughts. What have I become? And how did I get this way?
I know that I can always go to Him with my questions and doubts. But how can I sincerely seek Him amidst all these questions and doubts? How can I go to Him when I seem to be distancing myself from Him at the same time?
Can my faith be shaken? My faith has been shaken. Do I truly believe? Am I convinced that He's there? Perhaps He's there for someone else but not for me.
If you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. That was His promise. That is His promise.
I also want a family. But that will never happen, will it. As shy and restless as I was during my younger days, I never thought that I would be in this place, where I'm still somewhat shy, still somewhat restless, a place where there is so much uncertainty. There will not be a family, will there, not the sort of family that I see in my mind.
Every day brings me closer to the beginning of a life without even the possibility of children. And every day I wonder when that day will come.
Would I be devastated or would that be an exaggeration? Heartbroken? Or would I simply accept it as a fact of life? For these things do happen. And have to happen. Whether I choose to embrace it or not, it's all part of being a woman, isn't it. It's still in the future. And it is still uncertain.
And I hope, when the time comes, as undeserving as I am, that You will comfort me.