It’s been an eventful year, and even though there are still 3,5 weeks to go before we enter 2013, I can safely say that this year was one of personal growth and finding myself.
Personal growth involves letting go of things you don’t want to clutter your mind, and perhaps ups and downs need to be part of that package also. Somehow inner strength – still wondering where it came from – and hope has kept me walking with my head held high.
I’ve learned that yes, I am alternative and it’s OK to be so, not in a punk, anarchist kind of way, but different from a lot of people either way. I refuse to be put in one type of box because there’s more to myself than blindly following the crowd to be accepted. I’ve never walked to the beat of the drum of society’s requisitions to begin with: I was the first one in the family to emigrate, to work in a library and to want to study for a degree while working. Although the latter has been put on a back burner, I still want to continue with the degree.
So what if I’m unmarried, without children and sad to say, currently on a long career break to look after my health? This year I finally accepted all this and it made me appreciate life more because I let go of restrictions and ties that mentally bound me to those things.
Like any woman I will always have that tiny thought that having children is the thing to do to be accepted or to feel fulfilled, but if your body tells you that this is too hard a struggle to go through, it’s time to realize that this path in life is not for you. Living in a country where mothers are regarded as angels, it’s hard to outrun so many pregnant mums-to-be or mums with their children. It doesn’t bother me anymore; on the contrary, I am now happy that they do have the physical strength to have children. In the past I would have felt some envy when seeing them but seeing my niece and nephew grow up, and feeling their love is love enough for me, and I can give them more because I don’t have children of my own. Envy has therefore left the building and love for them sufficiently feeds my need for children.
Being unmarried feels the same, and unlike a lot of people, especially women, I feel no need to rush down the aisle in a white princess-dress. I’m a happy single girl and I will be until a man willing to take me as I am, comes knocking at my door. Then again, men just don’t come knocking at people’s doors so I have to make a big effort to meet eligible knights in shining armor; but my question is: do they still exist? If there are men like this out there, then I am willing to give it a go but I will need to be reassured that my condition will not be a stumbling block on our path to happiness. Until then, I will be one of a few unmarried people in my family and no, I do not feel this is something that needs to be rectified because they want to see me married.
Because Ireland is a catholic country, there is a lot of guilt going around in its people. The church made sure to push people into loveless marriages they didn’t want in the first place. Too many people are in marriages that don’t work, and too many got married because they thought they would never find a better person than the one they were with. I’d rather be single than in a relation which is only built on heartache and guilt. Rather single than jumping from relationship to relationship “testing” the other sex and being so desperate, it makes them think about psychiatric care before entering a marriage.
I chose to respect myself and I wanted to get out with my head held high. Being ignored is one thing, being ignored on a regular basis is another.
To treat someone in my situation like a doormat because they couldn’t handle my illness was hard to deal with. I need to be and remain true to myself and not to those few moments where people wanted me in their life on their terms.
Unfortunately life has its ups and downs, but I learned along the way that you choose your own fate, strength and you hope that everything will be better at some stage. I loved and lost this year, but I’m still happy that I had love and friendships and that I had chances other people didn’t. Knowing I built up my own strength, I realized that sometimes letting go is a real need that has to be fulfilled in order to function properly. It’s funny how life can turn out but somehow things turned out just the way I had envisioned them to at the beginning of 2012. My life is not perfect for the outside world, but it is for me.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2012. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.