“Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn’t original sin. He’s born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it’s a tragedy. A lot of people don’t have the courage to do it.” Helen Hayes
While I faked adulthood, I felt sorry for people who weren’t grown up. They reacted ridiculously, failed to take responsibility for themselves, and blamed anything wrong on everyone else.
My track record proved my maturity. Senior classmates in high school voted me “Most Dependable.” I said no to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, no to cursing, and no to premarital sex. When I said yes to a friend’s invitation, I stayed loyal even if I got a better offer. When I committed to activities, I followed through no matter what.
I acted responsibly to a fault. If you didn’t, I’d take responsibility for you too.
Being in other people’s business didn’t seem childish until my 13-year-old daughter gifted me a box she decorated. Inside there was a card that said, “Life.”
The gift was her way of asking me, in the kindest way she knew how, to get my own life. Instead of facing my tragedy, I acted ridiculous. I didn’t take responsibility for myself. I blamed her and the rest of my family that I felt incapable to move forward. Sound familiar from paragraph one?
It wasn’t until my grown children moved out and I had a goal besides parenting and time to accomplish it that I glimpsed at my immaturity. When it came time to get my own life, I found myself unmotivated, undisciplined, and ungrateful.
I knew how you should live your life, but not how to live mine.
For more than a decade, I battled every single day with myself or I picked a fight with someone else so I didn’t have to look at me.
If I ever hoped to grow up and get my own life, I had to do what Helen Hayes said. I had leave behind my false sense of security and fight. I had to stop trying to control you and deal with my out-of-control emotions; stop trying to please you and get over my fear of being alone; stop telling you what you wanted to hear to avoid confrontations and tell you my stories instead. I had to get comfortable with silence and anger and judgment, and rein in my negative reactions.
The hardest part of all, I had to do my work – a loveliness that ended up being worth the battle.
How’s it looking for you? All grown up or did Helen Hayes’ quote stir up something inside of you? I hope you’ll join our conversation.
In This Together,