When I returned to St. Louis after failing in my first move to San Francisco, I was devastated. Fortunately, I was greeted by the most loving arms of one of the older girls from my college basketball team. I showed up on her doorstep and started crying as soon as I saw her. She looked and me and almost laughed with such love for me as she pulled me into her arms. The joy in her embrace was because she knew what I was feeling, she knew I was safe and loved with her, and she knew I would be okay.
That image is burned into my brain and has become my definition of real love. Almost a definition of God, if I were going to define one.
In my late 20s, as I explored more about my own personal childhood and family issues, I found myself operating out of a place of fear - more like a child would. I envied my friend who knew everything would be okay. So I found a way to believe in the future person I would become who would know all of that and could offer that comfort to myself. I started channeling 40 Year Old Monika, who was wise and loving and laughed warmly when I hurt, to help me through my fears.
It really helped me. It helped to understand that so much of the time when I felt scared it had little to do with the situation, but because it reminded a childhood me of similar feelings. It helped me to know that I could learn to look to me (even if it was a future me) for comfort, rather than asking others to participate in something they didn't really understand.
To some of you it might sound New Agey or a like psychobabble, but 40 Year Old Monika helped me. I've grown into her in so many ways, and I can usually recognize when I'm sabotaging something because of old patterns when I have the power to heal it myself. But as I get closer and closer to 40 Year Old Monika, I start to wonder what's next. How can someone so close to who I am be a guide? And if I still need so much guidance when I'm this close to being the person I naively thought knew it all, how can I envision what the next step looks like?
What's more challenging to me right now, though, is how do I balance the wisdom and confidence of 40 year old Monika with the fears that I still have because even though I've gotten so close I'm still not there? It was very clear when I was 28, and I was envisioning the wisdom of someone 12 years older than me against the fears of a 5 year old me. But now, I'm not sure 40 Year Old Monika is old enough. I'm trying to tell myself 40 Year Old Monika knows what's going on in my life right now and she's got it under control. But the fears she's going up against aren't from 5 year old me. They're from 35 year old me. How does that work?
40 Year Old Monika wants to say to someone, "do what you need, that's okay, I know better, and I trust this." But 35 year old me knows enough now to know that maybe I don't know better. How do I balance thinking I know that someone is acting out of fear and thus staying steady versus not letting go if they really are pushing me away? Sometimes even when people act out of fear, the damage is real.
And so...I find myself in a place where all I know I can trust is to be open and honest and put myself out there. Because that's what I know is true. And I put this out there to you lovely people in hopes that maybe someone else feels this, maybe this touches you, maybe you have some wisdom to offer back to me.
And I wait for my next version of 40 Year Old Monika to show herself (hopefully before I turn 40, dammit!)