My Thirty-Ninth Year — What I Know So Far.
My thirty-ninth year is upon me — in two months.
My thirties have been a time of explosions and implosions and “Ah yes, this is what it is like to live and breathe.”
My twenties were lovely.
I married. I had my first child.
Yet, I was fixed and frightened and my anxiety was debilitating. I tried to make sense of the past and feverishly planned for the future because it felt as if I was in control of something.
Being in control of something was exactly what I needed. I was desperate for safety after a brutal storm of fear and uncertainty. My twenties brought experiences of the unexpected, the tragic and the shock of existence.
I was made aware in this decade that the things we worry about are not what ends up making our knees go weak and our life flash before us.
No, it’s never what we’d imagined.
But my thirties…
The past eight years have cracked my heart wide open — a soft openness to the one person who was invisible for a very long time.
A person covered in so many layers of fear that she disappeared in the shadows, as if hiding under a blanket while waiting for the thunderous roars coming from outside forces to stop shaking her.
My heart cracked open to myself, my beauty, and my strength.
My birthday is in winter.
I hate winter.
The dark season often has left me shivering and waiting patiently for the warmth of the sun. In fearful anticipation, the nagging question that loomed with change: How will I make it through the winter?
But now, as I enter the final year of my thirties, there are things that I know. While I’m not fearless to the darkness, I fear less. A wisdom has infiltrated this new level of consciousness. It shines a light in the dark.
There are things that I know about life now. There are uncoverings that live inside my open heart, as they peel back the layers which I needed so desperately in my twenties.
Here is what I know so far:
I know that my heart is soft. It will never be hard. No matter whose boots leave their messy imprint on them.
I know that my skin will never be thick, but rather transparent. Every emotion and quickening of my heart is worn on my skin for all to see.
I know that I love deeply and yet there are depths in love that I may never reach.
I know that people are not strong because they speak harshly, cut ties easily, and swallow down another’s harshness. Strength is soft and steady.
I know the prism of my color is deep, lush and more vibrant than the sun. Yet, certain colors are completely eclipsed by darkness and may never illuminate again.
I know that my soul is a thread of much energy collected over lifetimes and so are yours. These threads braid together, and when we uncover another layer, we call it love. It’s really just our being encountering itself over and over again in a different light.
I know that meditation works and I know that I easily forget the wisdom of my own breath.
I know that I wanted children from the time that I was a child myself, as I know that part of me will always need to be parented.
I know that my mother is always right, but I seek her counsel too much because I don’t trust myself.
I know that following a Buddhist path is my true north, while Catholicism fit like a much larger person’s dress which left me feeling awkward and ashamed to be seen.
I know that religion is a step, but not the whole staircase.
I know that I don’t really know anything and my perspective will change as I age.
I know contrast and pain. I’ve hated the word gratitude as a way for the spiritual community to imply that I bypass pain.
I know that I like to sit in my anger and not be offered a new perspective until I’m good and ready.
I know that’s important because who the hell wants to feel good all the time?
I know that I have a hard time letting go even when every cell in my body is pleading with me. I hold on with clenched fists, and just when I think I’ve released a demon, I chase him down and feed him for good measure to be sure he stays alive.
I know that I am pretty in a regular pretty-girl way — not gorgeous or one who stands out in a crowd, but casually pretty.
I know, to some people I am beautiful.
I know who those people are and they’re the ones who have seen my darkest hour and my ugliest moments and still see my beauty.
I know that when you find people like these in life, be careful with them because they are your soul family.
I know that I have a gypsy soul — teasing me with new dreams, whispering in my ear as I settle in. It is restless and wants to uproot me, calling me to a new place of exploration.
I know that there are certain people who will always remember my scent, my taste, and I know it will haunt them if they inhale even a glimpse of something similar.
I know that I too am haunted, and the ghosts who haunt me dance with the demons I still feed and keep alive.
I know that time can be cruel and there’s never enough of it. Yet, I still waste it.
I know that some of my misery is self-imposed and almost brought on purposefully. Maybe I am comfortable in it. Maybe it helps me to feel that all is right with the world because I’m preparing for the misery that will inevitably come. Maybe that’s not true at all, and there is a darkness that I need to keep alive in order to remember and pay tribute to.
I know that being in a relationship with others is one of the most complicated and confusing experiences one can have. Being in a relationship with myself is hard enough.
I know that the truth of these complications — dare we attempt to reveal our truths to one another — means that we need to sort through them first.
I know that extracting these truths is one of the most painful processes there is, let alone exposing them to other humans who have their own stomach in knots and extractions to make.
I know that I believe in love. I believe in being whole again after being broken.
I know that my desire to seek will never fade. I will always need someone to hold me in the labyrinth of their mind and listen to my stories.
This is what I know so far.
And, so far from what I’ve yet to learn.
I welcome winter.
Nicole Markardt is a mother of two, a NYC public school teacher, writer, and aspiring yogi. When Nicole was 18, she broke her back in two places. Doctors couldn’t be certain she would ever walk again. After a successful surgery and some difficult years, Nicole went on to lead a full life. She is a certified Level II Reiki practitioner and actively pursues mind-body development. Her gratitude for the second chance she has been given, as well as her knowledge of the power in mind-body connection, is something she’s mindful of everyday. Nicole consistently practices Yoga and has never felt better. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen, Elephant Journal, and she writes the Peace, Love & Practice blog.