On the 27th, I turn 30.
I am sitting in a hotel room, the same one I stayed in a little over three years ago, but two floors higher. The top of the building, looking out at the beach, for me.
The fireplace going, a big robe – the biggest one you have, I called ahead and asked, since that is what I do since gaining weight. The trees framing the view outside my window.
And I feel sad.
I have been sitting here, wanting to feel something else.
Wanting to write and to share how this has been my 30th year of my life and it has been the best one yet, just like every other year before this one, it’s always the best one yet, that’s always what I write.
And in some ways it has been, but I’m starting to feel like “the best” is a poor way of describing something so complex as years of life. I have had some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had. It has also been one of the hardest years I’ve ever had.
In so many ways, at 30, I feel like I am back at the beginning.
There is this dying of the dream of “more.”
“More” has ruled my entire twenties. Typical, probably. But also a reaction to my brother’s accident, to spiritually seek, to find out what really matters, to find what else there is, because when someone almost dies it can have that kind of effect.
I feel like nothing bad ever happened to me until I was 19.
I know this isn’t really true. But in larger ways it is. And that was my experience of it at the time.
This year has been a shattering of my innocence.
It might have made more sense if my 19th year was the shattering of that, but it wasn’t.
Growing up I had a very strong conviction that the world was good and that people were good.
I don’t know where this came from. I’ve been sitting with it. Is it an innate part of humanity? I always thought so. Is it because I felt secure and safe with my parents? Because no one close to me died, because I didn’t lack what I needed?
I’ve spent a lot of years dissecting my childhood, taking it apart, examining it with different therapists and teachers. And I held a lot of resentment about ways I didn’t feel fully loved, and I’ve processed that very publicly, as you may have seen me share.
And though it has been worthwhile and healing for me to examine – most especially in my relationship with myself – what has finally landed for me now is the acceptance of my parents for who they are, the understanding and forgiveness for the ways they parented that were a reflection of their life experiences… and in place of the hurt and resentment of not feeling seen is a very full sense of gratitude. That in the bigger picture, I was really loved, that I am really loved, and cared for.
I also think I have individuated. Maybe Covid forced this to happen earlier than it might have, or just my relationship with and then marriage to my husband. Feeling the grief of no longer being just the daughter in my family, but instead moving into creating my own family, in a new country, no less.
The last couple years of this were painful and I am so grateful for my parents and my siblings, for doing their best to stay connected as we moved through so many shifts, some also painful but ultimately, I think, ending up in a really beautiful place.
I have been thinking about this innocence. It is something so innate to me that I would never have known to name it if not for the reflection from others.
The inherent way I see the world, with a wide-eyed, childlike wonder. A belief in goodness and that the world is ultimately good, wants to be good. A conviction that if things aren’t right, it’s just because people don’t know that they aren’t right, they just don’t have all the information, they aren’t yet seeing it fully.
It’s hard for me to write about this quality because this has been one of the things I have most cherished about myself. Protected, kept no matter what. And it has led me to a lot of beautiful experiences.
I think about some of the things I used to do, people I trusted. I remember my cousin joking with me in high school, laughing at me, saying you are so gullible. It’s true. I am gullible, easily sold, open to new experiences. Because life had never shown me in a way that landed that this is not a safe way to be.
I always felt like if I could just show everyone, they would understand. I remember going to Greece, by myself to volunteer with refugees, sure that every single one of them was good, and people should help them, and why wouldn’t all countries open all their borders to help them. I remember traveling and couch surfing, one time breaking my own rule and staying at an older man’s house by myself, arriving late at night and sleeping on his couch. Thinking, this is the kind of thing people always say not to do, but I’m sure this man is good, why wouldn’t he be. Not being able to fathom an experience when someone would not be good on purpose.
I remember being in Vietnam, getting in two different taxis, one that tried to lock me inside by shaving off the locks, one that drove me to a different hostel and pretended it was mine. A little blonde girl, once with friends, once by herself. The first one, with friends, I screamed at him until he opened the doors and let us out. The second, arriving at a different hostel, I didn’t even get out of the car of a man who had just lied to me. I just demanded he take me to where I was actually going. I stayed in the car. And I said this isn’t mine, you are lying, take me to the correct place.
And I felt bad for these men, I felt like my country had harmed their country. Never being able to consider that I might be in actual danger, because I didn’t know what actual danger felt like.
Somehow, my innocence remained intact. Even my brother’s accident, causing my world to crash down, only made me determined to keep it more. Determined to still believe that life was good, could be good, that people were good. That sure, some pieces seemed like intentional acts by others, but they couldn’t have meant to do it, not really.
Every single partner I have ever had has said something to the effect of, you have the most beautiful heart of anyone I’ve ever met. My dad echoed this, always trying so hard to protect me, I just thought he was paranoid.
And this isn’t like a brag, like I just have the most beautiful heart. Really I think some of it is my natural essence and some of it is that my innocence just remained intact. My trust in life and my trust in the goodness of humanity.
Someone reflected this to me recently, she picked up on it in one session with me, listening to me talk. She said, from a few things you’ve said, I get this sense that you have this innocence that leads you. And it’s such a beautiful part of you, but it’s also not safe to have that lead. You have to have discernment, the innocence has to go in the backseat.
And I cried.
There is still such a part of me protesting, saying, but people are good. I just have to show them.
And it’s not like I didn’t logically know that some people intentionally did bad things. Of course I did, I read articles about them, watched stories, movies, heard people talk about others.
It just never really landed in my body. I had never had personal, real life experience with it.
And on top of that, I thought I was too self aware, too smart, to ever be deceived by anyone, anyway.
I have always felt like at birth, everyone must innately be good. And it’s our trauma, our life experiences that change us. Is that true? I don’t know.
It’s funny, because I’ve taught so much about “good” and “bad” and how these are human terms, made up, and the rest of nature doesn’t operate this way.
But I’ve always taught this with disclaimers, that we don’t use this as excuses to be bad, it is just a tool to practice accepting all parts of ourselves. And especially with good girl conditioning, this can be so useful.
I have also been questioning what this innate sense of good that I feel is. Is it an orientation toward life? Is it found in nature? Why do I feel it? Why do people want to be good, most of them, it seems, anyway?
Would most people help someone in trouble, or do I just think they would?
I feel like all my beliefs have been wiped away, or at least are all up for questioning.
And so I sit with what I know to be true, at 30.
Which is probably less than I ever have.
I know I talked to the spirits of the land here, yesterday, just introducing myself to them, saying hello. Speaking out loud and thinking, this is it, I am having my psychotic break probably, you don’t know what your beliefs are but here you are, talking to spirits.
But this too, felt like a beginning. No magic, no trying to get something or trying to make something occur, no image of what it means, just saying hi, I’m a person and I’m open to connecting.
Every healer I have seen for the past ten years has looked at my energy and then at some point during our session, says, do you have a connection with spirits? And I say, not really, I’m too afraid, and I get annoyed that I keep getting asked this question, it always comes back to this. And they say, this is the clearest message I get for you, that you need to develop this connection. And years go by, and I do absolutely nothing about it.
So yesterday I sat down and I said hello, and then as I stood up and walked away I found the most beautiful, hugest mussel shell I have ever seen, parted half open at my feet.
It feels like I am dropping everything I have learned and am just going back to the beginning.
I feel… sobered. The innocence in the backseat, still there, wondering at everything, but in the backseat.
Dare I say, I feel like a woman, at 30.
The desire for “more” has dropped away.
It’s a strange thing. “more” has led me for so long. More growth, more experiences, more more more. New places, new things, constantly moving to the next level, on and on.
It served me for its time.
Sex is an example of this. When I discovered sexual energy, and working with sexual energy, my world was blown open by how much there was to feel and see and explore. And it was beautiful.
But there is this place where… I have it now.
Like, the sex I am capable of experiencing, and the sex I have with my husband, is gorgeous and deep and emotionally healing. The rawness of all my emotion gets expressed, and I am still continuously amazed by what my body can experience.
The work I did around this was necessary for me to get there, especially at the beginning. But I used to feel like.. there is a whole world here, I need to learn more about tantra, more about energy, go to sex parties, heal more, more more more.
I felt that way about experiencing a lot of things, especially taboo things. More experiences, more growth.
Now I feel… done.
Not with experiencing life, of course that will come on its own.
But what I feel drawn to at 30 is different.
What I feel drawn to now, in this moment is different.
I don’t need more money, more growth, more pleasure, more.
I want the basics of life, and I want to experience them fully, and that’s all.
I want to have the sex I have with my husband and let that evolve as we go through different stages of life together.
I want to make the money I make without striving for the next level.
I want to have in person community, connected friendships, to grow and can and cook food, and to have babies.
I want to mother and teach them how to read and show them water and rocks and plants.
A few months ago I felt like I was far along, now I feel like I am at the beginning.
It’s a new beginning, though.
The beginning of the next decade of my life.