I didn't think I'd ever be a grown up

Yesterday I walked into a bank to apply for a mortgage. I wore a twirly dress and shoes that make me walk tall. I can hardly believe it was me.

I spent years laying my childhood bed at my parents’ house unable to sleep at night. I was consumed with worry that I was dying of the AIDS virus after being assaulted. My sex education was limited to disease fear, and I was certain my death was eminent. Four years went on like that before I was able to gather the courage (and had a car) to take myself for a test at planned parenthood. That was probably the most alone I ever felt with a secret. My certain, looming death. My shame for what “I’d done.” The scary call and walk into the clinic. Formative snap shots.

The negative test result was a relief, but it somehow didn’t change the whole narrative. I had spent so long with a belief that my life had a sad and soon cut-off date, the news didn’t suddenly brighten my future. I didn’t feel hopeful. I didn’t plan my wedding. I’d wax poetic about ideas around this stuff, but I didn’t think I’d ever really have a family. I couldn’t envision myself as a working professional. It all felt… fruitless.

The narrative went something like this, “I am a slut. I am used up. I get kicked around a lot. Soon it will be over.”

Then I graduated from high school. Started making plans for college. Suddenly there were possibilities. A new start. The first two years I’d call a “smashing success,” then old trauma came back to the fore front and I crashed again. Started skipping class. Smoked too many cigarettes. Slept as much as possible. Lived on party pizzas and boxed wine. I didn’t think anything I did mattered anymore. I lived vibrantly in moments of laughter with friends but spent most of my time hiding. I was constantly disappointing people and subsequently avoiding them. Eventually I was expelled and then let back in with promises in writing to seek therapy and medication.

I would later call this the years of college that I majored in depression and self-hate.

Somehow I put the pieces of myself back together. I’m still working through some of this stuff, but it doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. It doesn’t feel bigger than me. I don’t feel invisible, too small for my problems or inadequate to face them. I am no longer suffocated by the silence I felt was mandated around my trauma. I feel honest, and free.

I am so grateful I made it.

More than that, I’m grateful I found my value. That I can look around at the life I’ve built with my family and not only swell with love, but know that I am indeed worthy of it. I deserve to receive the love I give. I’m a mother, a wife, a professional, an adult. With a house I couldn’t picture, love I couldn’t have known was possible without worlds of hurt attached. I have a dog. A couch. I mow the yard. I’m still here!

Instead of looking back at all the sadness with shame or more sorrow, I’m proud I made it through. I’m grateful for the millions of tiny miracles that must have pushed for me to make it. I’m better at understanding pain. I know I can endure. I am strong, capable and more than enough.

Walking into that bank yesterday felt bigger than an application process. It felt like an arrival. A noticeable shift. I no longer live in fear. Of anything. I can envision a future with me in it. I’m here.

I don’t know what the outcome of my mortgage will be. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I’m 32, I’m thinking about a mortgage, I woke up this morning happy to be alive. These are gifts I couldn’t imagine. I trust I’m always being directed well. I try not to spin too many future stories but rather rely on a deeply rooted knowing that I can handle my life.

I’m here. I can handle anything. I made it.

xo, Erin