Today is my birthday!! I will be out celebrating most of the day! My mother-in-law is taking me to lunch. In the evening, Sean and I are venturing over to Dave and Buster's for the first time to play games and act silly. I'm excited!
I was listening to the Nerdist Podcast recently (I think the guest was Kristen Schaal) when Chris Hardwick asked the guest what things about her present-day life would have completely blown the mind of younger her. I thought this would be an interesting birthday post topic to write about. So now I present:
10 Things About Present-Day Me That Would Blow My Mind 10 Years Ago
Ten years ago, the year was 2005 and I was just turning 25. I was spazzing about it because it was time for my quarter-life crisis. I had been living with my mom and stepdad since moving back from Boston in 2001. My mom and stepdad divorced, so it was me and my unhappy mother stuck in a house together. I worked a crappy kitchen job at an assisted living facility twelve to thirteen hour days for not much more than minimum wage. They would expect me to work overtime but fudge the numbers in the system so they didn't have to pay me the wages I earned. I liked some of the people I worked with, but hated the job. I was stuck there.
I was paying a huge sum in rent to my mother and paying my share of the bills. She would lie to me about the balance of bills to try to extort more money from me. I endured her put-downs and vile attitude because I had no choice. I was stuck there. It was a sad, lonely existence that I pushed through because that was my only choice. So what would shock 25-year-old Hailey about her 35-year-old self?
1) I had thyroid cancer. I was diagnosed in November of 2013 after feeling a lump in my throat. Turns out, I also have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease wherein your body attacks your thyroid. Sometimes it can cause thyroid cancer. Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism can lead to many, many symptoms that affect your whole body when you aren't treated properly - from high blood pressure, acid reflux, eye and teeth issues, muscle problems, diabetes, mental health problems, reproductive and hormonal issues, skin problems, thinning hair, dry skin, etc. etc. I had surgery to remove the tumor and a few lymph nodes in December of 2013 and radiation in March of 2014. It is certainly one of those nightmare scenarios noone wants to have happen to them. Thankfully, I had an awesome surgeon and thyroid cancer can be a very treatable disease, depending on variables at hand. I can't declare I am "cancer-free" for another nine years, but so far everything has checked out fine and I am doing really well. You can read about my Throat Monster ordeals here. For a list of more symptoms of thyroid issues, go here. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
2) I am married to an amazing man. I never thought, in a million years, that I would grow up to be married. I was never the kind of girl who dreamed about her wedding or getting married and made plans accordingly. I knew for a fact that I didn't want kids, from a very young age. So I didn't think marriage was in the cards either. Having grown up with a certain view of marriage based on what I saw my parents do - yelling, throwing things, hitting, cheating, etc. - I knew it wasn't what I wanted for my life. I came to the conclusion that only stupid people who wanted to be miserable ended up getting married. I had a very refined laundry list of what I wanted and didn't want in a boyfriend based on all the mistakes I saw other people make. Plus, my mom made sure to tell me that the guy I wanted didn't exist and I would never find a boyfriend or someone that loved me....so that just solidified my viewpoint.
And then one day I met Sean, on a blind date at the house of mutual friends. He didn't meet all the requirements on my laundry list, but he was most of them. I wasn't prepared for all that and became terrified of falling in love with him, so I put off going on a real date with him for two months. Once we started dating, things just fell into place. Of course, I was dead-set on never getting married, so there was three months of constant inner-dialogue fighting with myself. One part of me knew I was falling in love with him and could see spending my life with him. The other part of me was convinced I was a sell-out for even contemplating marrying him because that is what stupid people do. It took a lot of time to convince myself that I wasn't my parents, marriage didn't have to be shitty, and that it was possible - and okay - for me to be happy.
3) Since 2008, I've seen the New Kids On The Block in concert 11 times and met them all. I've loved the New Kids since I was eight-years-old. Through constant bullying on the subject, I never stopped loving them. As a kid, during the height of New Kids fame, I was never allowed to go to a concert, let alone a New Kids one. My mother refused to take me and my dad always had choice words to say about them so I never even asked him. As per her usual M.O., my mom made sure to tell me that the New Kids didn't know me and never would, that they didn't love me, and that I would never see them or ever visit Boston (a goal that started because of New Kids but would later be based on the history and college choices in the city. Eventually, I did move to Boston and lived there for a little bit as well.). But never underestimate the power of things that make you happy! New Kids was the only light in the very dark tunnel of my childhood and I held on. Not only have a met all of the guys, but I have now seen them in multiple concerts since their reunion in 2008. They continue to bring me happiness and joy these 27 years later...and I love them immensely for it!
4) I'm a blogger. I never would have imagined that I would be at a point or place in my life where I could work at home writing about fashion and things I love and sharing it with people. I'm grateful to be able to do that and to have a supportive husband who makes it possible as well. Furthermore, the Me ten years ago did not possess the confidence or self-worth to put herself out there like this. Being able to work with brands and share my style and story with other people is fun and fulfilling.
5) I am a stay-at-home wife and furmom. This kind of goes along with #2 and #4. While I don't currently have any furchildren, as they have all grown old and had to leave me, I cherish that I was able to spend so much time with them while they were here. I don't regret any snuggles or lazy days or chest rubs or nap times or photo ops in the sun with them. They meant so much to me and were with me thirteen to seventeen years. One day I will have more fuzzy babies, but I am happy that I have the opportunity to be with them at home. It feels like a luxury that I never thought was in the cards for me.
6) I've been able to travel to places like Hawaii, Seattle, Victoria, B.C., Phoenix, etc. etc. This also falls in line with some of the other points, but being able to travel to different places is wonderful. It's exciting to see things you've only heard about or to experience things you've only seen on television shows. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I have seen a lot of the United States from a young age. There are still things I want to see, made more fun by traveling with my husband. He has yet to see a wide variety of the U.S, so sharing that with him will be a joy. My list of places to visit both here and overseas continues to grow.
7) I own a house. We just bought a house a couple years ago, so it is still very new. While maintaining the yard and various other things can be a chore, the fact that we can change things up is very exciting. I hate white walls and most of our house is painted white on the inside. And it dawned on me - we can paint!! Yay! We don't have to ask permission or worry about changing it back when we move. Moving into this house was the 31st time I have moved in my 35 years. I don't really want to move again....unless we win the lottery. haha
8) My immediate family no longer speaks to me. Mother's Day was the seventeenth anniversary of my father's death so, obviously, he can't speak to me. Even so, he was so angry when I moved in with my mom when I was sixteen, he didn't speak to me for the two years prior to his death. It didn't matter that I moved in with my mom and stepdad to escape the constant mental and verbal abuse of my stepmother. But we are talking about a lot of extremely selfish people here.
It has been four and a half years since my mother told me she didn't want to be my mother anymore. This was brought on by my attempt to talk about and work through things that happened in my childhood that were still bothering me. Because she falls under the category of a narcissistic mother, she told me that I was a liar who made it all up and my husband's mother could be my mother now. Aside from a nasty email she sent me a couple weeks after she found out I had cancer ("you are a horrible person and a liar, but I still don't wish you had cancer..."), I haven't heard from her. My brother decided to cheat on his wife and kids, lie about it, and then unleash his tirade of racist and sexist ideas when he was caught. He showed no remorse for his actions and had no idea why I wasn't on his side because "we are family". I don't side with cheaters, especially cheaters who show their obvious disrespect for so many people in their every day actions and speech. It did make me realize that is hatred for women comes from his hatred of our mother, which felt like a huge epiphany at the time.
The things is, nobody needs that kind of bullshit and/or negativity in their lives. While they chose to stop talking to me for their own ridiculous reasoning, I stopped talking to them too because I don't need their negativity. I refuse to allow it in my life. I love myself and I respect myself and will not tolerate lies and put-downs. And as much as it sucks to be a part of a family that doesn't love you, I know that they can't love me. They don't even love themselves. Not having them in my life has made me a better and more positive person, believe it or not. No one is trying to pull me down with them or berate me for being too happy anymore.
9) I love myself. Ten years ago, twenty years ago, maybe as little as seven years ago, I was seriously struggling with my self-image, my body image, my lack of confidence...you name it. With age comes wisdom I suppose. I've been able to introspect on a myriad of topics as I learned more about me and those around me. It took me a long while to have the confidence to stand up for what I believe in and how I feel and to value those feelings. I think being a child raised by people who did not value my feelings or opinions did more harm than I even realized for a long, long time.
10) I'm happy. Certainly, the intention of this post was not to be too negative or heavy, but I feel like I have to explain where I am coming from so you know why these things mean so much. Despite being a child nomad and growing up being constantly demeaned and devalued, verbally and mentally abused mostly, and pushed into a box I was told I should and would never leave....I escaped! And I'm happy. And I have quality people who love me and a life I love to live.
My birthday wish is that all of you see your beauty and your power and use it to lift yourself and others up. I wish you all happiness and love and positivity to push past and overcome the negative!!