May 08, 2017
When I was younger I felt I had a lot to prove. Activities that made me feel independent and strong were infectious to me - I thrived on needing no one. As a single mom back in the early 90's, before being a single mom was cool, I worked hard and stayed on top of what I could, relishing my proven strength. Weekends were made for running errands, cleaning house, mowing the yard, and always... baking banana bread. By Sunday afternoon I'd done all my chores, and the house smelled like banana bread and achievement. I'd sit on my front porch with a big glass of iced tea, looking at the lawn I'd neatly mowed and my weed-free flowerbed, and I'd know that all was well -and I had done all of this myself. I'd clean out my car, wash it, gas it, and on Monday morning start out my work week feeling ready to conquer.
A few years of marriage in the middle, and about 5 years ago, I found myself as a single mom again, with 2 more beautiful kiddos. My feeling of independence had been taken, and I was ready to reclaim it. Instead, I got into a new relationship, immediately, which for four+ years only depleted me and left me feeling lost, and anything but strong. I'd become what someone else wanted me to be. I'd helped him get his life together, and build his sense of independence and strength, only to have him abandon me for someone new. I was just starting to think the damage had been irreversible and I'd lost who I used to be.
And then... one morning... out of the blue... I baked banana bread again. I hadn't baked for quite a few years, and suddenly my house was filled with the aroma-- the sweet, genuine, warmth of who I used to be. They say smells will take your memory back to something faster than any other reminder, and I believe that. I stayed home that day, cleaning and working and remembering who I was. The scent lingered all day, and the house, and my heart, felt warm again. I was reminded of who I used to be, and who I had, five years earlier, wanted to be again.
Losing yourself to something positive is great - it adds new elements to who you are. Losing yourself to someone who takes, rather than gives, can tear you down and challenge your self-worth. In any situation, it's good to stand back for a bit and take a good look at where you're going - up? down? Where are your friends, interests, activities and involvements really taking you? In these past 5 years I've finished my Bachelor's degree, earned a Master's degree, and started a Doctorate degree, which I'm now working on. Despite those achievements , I let myself be pulled in a direction that wasn't good for me, in my relationship. Its ending was painful, but also the best thing that could have happened to me.
Turning negative into positive is what I do - it seems like the only way, to me, but I know that it isn't for everyone. Next week is suicide prevention week, and I would like to encourage anyone who's feeling lost or hopeless to get help - call 800-273-8255, the national suicide prevention lifeline. Just call and talk; they'll listen. A fresh start is not that far away. It might take a friendship, a new hobby, a phone call, or a purposeful effort -- I've just released "The Break-Up Journal," which is my way of turning lemons into lemonade.
There is nothing like a fresh start, especially when that fresh start takes you to a place where you can be you. Banana bread took me back to being me; a warm, genuine fresh start ignited by a memory of who I was, and who I am. And since that day, I have felt a peace, and a contentment that I've not known since those early years. With the wisdom of my 49 years, less to prove, and a rebuilt sense of self, I feel like I'm home. And my home smells like banana bread.