Once upon a time, in the same city I live in now. I grew up in an upper-middle class home where my mother was the proverbial antagonist like in any story. I guess this is my fairy tale, well how about we rename it to be the life tale.
Like in any story, we have the villain (as mentioned above) and a character that wants to live the best version of themselves or the heroine.
The fortress of a home I grew up in was where the children were seen and not heard. If you know me, this would be likely worse than eating a poisonous apple. There was no long braid escape route and I was itching to have that hair grow as long and as fast as possible. One of the many restrictions in the castle was that I had to be happy being just a Monday-Friday white picket fence princess, with basic dreams and a basic life. You know, as you may have been told it live this life too! 'Why can’t you just be like us? Be good, listen, be quiet, head down and well live a quiet normal existence'.
News flash.... took me a few years and a few magical beans (that really did nothing), but I am finally doing something that creates a world far broader than I could ever imagined for myself. There is no glass slipper or a prince charming that will make all my life woes go away with a snap of the fingers, but a faith and belief that there is more to happiness than a fairy tale. I don't and nor does anyone have to live a life they were told to.
So, this is my intro to the magical being of Karen (me). Grab your coffee and or tea and let's begin.
I have lived a very interesting life. In fact, I have had many people tell me to write a book about it. But, (quick side note) writing a tale about yourself is far more difficult to achieve, mostly due to no one wants to have to self-reflect and analyze themselves to that degree. I am no different.
Back to the life tale!
I grew up in Calgary and as above mentioned & still live here. I was adopted and raised by upper-middle class parents. They went on and adopted 2 other children and well we lived. That sums up my young years.
However, I always knew I was a little more 'out there' in personality and beliefs. The difference here versus some of the other 'normal upbringings' of other individuals in the world is: My mother was never pleased about my drive to be different from everyone else. 'Why not just be happy with the basic institution of boomer life?'
I didn't come physically from her and yes, many of my attributes came from them, but there are many I was born with and well those are the ones that the parental team could not get over. I was and never will be the child she hoped for all those years ago and that caused a lot of anger, & resentment. To sum up that relationship (that is no longer a relationship for many reasons) up, I was tooooo bold, toooo brash, toooo sassy, waaaay tooo much personality and this caused her to try to make me someone I was not. I tried her life, I tried to be that person she craved me to be and I tried to be the 9-5 gal. However, trying wasn't enough and that deep burning desire from my youth came back and I realized that I was meant to be far more than the cookie cutter adult that they wished for me.
This is also what I want for you. Don't fit yourself into the box.
I eventually passed the troubled years of my youth and teens of my life and discovered who I am versus who they desired me to be. I did eventually find some passion, drive and happiness for many, many years. Until......
But let’s go in reverse for some more defining moments before we get to the cliffhanger.
I at 16 decided to move onto the world and find my adventure. Basically I left home in search of me! I remember these years being a place of confusion, sadness and complete despair. The truth was it was no better out there than it was in the fortress. But my drive to be my own person was there and it was pushing me with so much force that I knew I had to keep going.
A few years into my journey I got pregnant with my daughter. I was bound and determined to accept her, love her and to let her be her own person. This is something I still cultivate in my children today (whether I agree with them or not). My daughter changed my whole world. I never (and I mean never) felt love like the day she came into this world. It changed everything, it changed me and all of a sudden, my goals, dreams and aspirations didn't matter because hers became the priority. I would do anything to make sure her dreams come true. We did this alone just the 2 of us in the pumpkin patch living our lives for a couple of years.
Then there was a guy. He isn't no prince charming, in fact any of you who know him will vouch for that. But he is funny, handsome, and loved my daughter. In fact, he loved both of us. And so, we went from 2 to 3 in the story-land. Love surrounded me and I could only get happier right?
Eventually we added a couple of princes to the mix and they all became my world. Watching them grow, taking care of them, correcting their wrongs, loving them and guiding them into the people they are today and for the future.
Our book was full of tales, laughs and adventures. Staying at home to watch them grow and helping them to become the best possible person they can be. It truly was the best happiness any parent and I could ever feel. This was very different from what I grew up in and I was determined that these 3 magical birds of mine were going to have their parents' support and that they were always going to be part of this family. I accepted them for who they are and didn't want them to be anything less than their own person. This had become one full nest. In fact, that is what we call our home; The Nest.
Over the years, I did all sorts of fun things, hobby jobs, make up artistry, event management, creative writing, school councils, friendships, trips, but the best was being there for my children and husband.
But......ready for it.... this is the cliffhanger!
I hit 40.
This was like the part in the fairy tales where we find out that the princess (me) was cursed and would never be saved unless she ate some fruit or got a kiss from a frog. But the real deal was I didn't want to celebrate, I didn't want to be 40! Feeling this same type of despair that I felt before in my teens. Lost, despair and uncertainty. But honestly it was a new version of it as an adult. Until the day of 40 I was young and free and all of a sudden there is a downhill spiral.
After the big number, there were other factors that started to play into my spell of doom. One was that my daughter moved to another country to go to University. She taught me love and now the love is leaving the nest. I put everything aside to make sure she was living her best life. She was living her dream and it was being fulfilled.
This was a ton of bricks sitting on me. They are loved by us, their parents and then they leave?
I knew this, this is not the thriller side where we learned something we had never learned before in the book. But I don't think that it was going to take me down to my knees like it did. I really felt I was lost. My life was taking care of them, and now they are leaving??
So now I am 40, the oldest child is gone and I feel like I am standing in a field and am unable to find my path. I lost my happiness and my purpose. I was supposed to be somewhere else at 40....not here. This is not what I pictured for my life, but I forgot to make a little time in the years of raising children about my dreams. I didn't acknowledge that they were not going to 'need' me anymore......And I just realized that my focus became about them. I put my passions and dreams aside, I did for almost 20 years.
41 showed up and I had been laid off from my job, taking away my ability to keep my mind busy during the day. I am truly a much better person when I am not sitting around pondering all things in life with nothing to do. A job is very, very good for me. AND......Then they found a lump in my breast and although it was not cancer (Thank Goodness), it took them what felt like forever to tell me it was just a tumor. They then decided it had to be removed as it was growing at a steady rate. No Job, Lump, Not Cancer, Surgery….GREAT (total sarcasm)!
How horrible can that be for one person to have to mentally deal with. I was already dealing with not being where I wanted to be in my 40's and now, I have to deal with handling my demise. I get that you can live a great life beyond breast cancer, but any cancer patient will tell you that they reflect on the things in life they potentially were going to miss. They don't want to, but they do! I did too! All of it.... weddings, grandchildren, trips, friends....and to make this all worse. I had allllllllll the time in the world to think about it with no job to keep the brain from ticking.
I thrive on being busy and love a challenge but, all of a sudden have nothing but time to ponder my life. Where should I be? Where I am not? When will I die? Why can't I have the life I should have? I knew that I was not living the life I wanted. 41 was a pretty shitty year! Depression kicked in full gear and I tried to put a happy face on. I questioned everything in my life from, my marriage, to my friendships, to my faith.
And then 42 came with a vengeance and I thought, I gave myself 2 years to wallow (yeah 2 years, don't judge the storyteller).
But I needed a turning point, and at one random doctor appointment, I told her everything. She heard me.... and she was the one sole person in the world I told it all to. No one else knew the full extent of my sorrow. She gave me some light in the dark place I was in. First, she referred me to someone who would eventually become my Fairy God-therapist. It has been months and months of talks and exercises of the mind to help bring me around out of the fog.
We have reflected upon my life and talked about gratefulness, values, and transitions. FGT (Fairy God-Therapist) gave me a sense of purpose again. The talks we had were not always enlightening in the moment, but they helped me self-reflect and see the damage of my childhood and the pause I placed on my story for my children's. I was lost, but I gained my found.
What I do know now...... is that my life is not done, and the same feeling I had when I was a kid is back. I have my dreams; I have my passion and I know I was meant to do something great! I needed to find my happiness and I am the happiest doing stuff like this. Anyone can do something to make them happy, it is society that says you can't and who are they really? BE YOU! Cause I am going to be me.
I will tell you that I am not quite 43, and for the 1st time in 2 years there is a path in that field. My castle is the nest we have built for the 5 of us, and the curse that was placed on me has been working its way out. But I have found my glass slipper and my amazing smile.
This is me and this tale is about finding happiness.