Or: The Return of the Badass

I used to know this girl who was amazing. She was smart and funny and wasn’t afraid of herself. Or anyone.

She was a fierce athlete who competed against herself, but was happy for others when they won or did their best. In college, she was a determined scholar who didn’t let a learning disability stop her. She loved her family and friends with an intensity that bordered on unconditional. She broke more than a few hearts because she was beautiful and didn’t know it. She was nice to just about everyone unless they were a jerk to her friends. And then she may or may not have taken a blowtorch to them. She was a badass, and I loved her.

She was me.

I lost her somewhere along the way.

In January of this year, I realized I missed her. I mean, I used to be in love with her. So I sat down to have a Come To Jesus with myself. In it, I said (rather harshly, but honestly):

“I don’t like you. I don’t like your life. I don’t like how you are living it, or really, anything about it. And things need to change. Now.”

It was the hardest discussion I had ever had with anyone.

My external circumstances were out of control. I was being forced to move from my place after ten years of living there. Not because of anything horrible, but because my landlords (who are like second parents) were moving out of state. I hated my job and my CEO and knew I needed to quit. I am a former triathlete who had gained 175 lbs due to a broken back (a long story), illness and grief over being one of only two surviving family members in my formerly large family, losing the love of my life, and finally, myself.

In short, Life.

But, I knew this way of being was not sustainable. It was time for a rebrand, and going back to the Badass was essential.

I began to ask myself what I really needed and what I really wanted and started to get rid of things I didn’t.

I only had a little bit of time before I had to move. So I knew I had to do it “Now.”

The first to go were boxes and boxes of other’s people stuff. Often that was mystifying; I found a box of rolled socks (did you know you can’t donate these anywhere?). Other boxes contained 63 pizza pans, 84 mess hall trays from the Navy, 127 pairs of plastic knitting needles, yards and yards of unused fabric, and many other mysterious and odd things. The first two weeks I took at least two truckloads of crap to the Crap Place to be donated. A friend who is a school librarian got two boxes of childhood books, the library got seven more, Moffet Field got the mess hall trays (which prompted a “Wow, these will go in our museum. They are super old school!” leading me to wonder exactly how long we had had them). And youth groups at various churches divvied up the pizza pans.

I am making it sound like this was easy and somewhat of a lark. It wasn’t. Very often I would find something that had belonged to my mother that I had forgotten about, or pictures of my dead twin, and would have to sit and cry for a while or go back to bed for the rest of the day.

And to make matters worse, I could not find a place to live that fit my budget, took a cat and was in the same area. I began to consider moving out of state. I ended up moving in with a friend for a month until I could find something. I lived in her son’s old bedroom and slept on his twin bed with my bedhog of a cat. I am so so grateful for this friend. She was and is generous and kind and quirky in a way where I knew I needed to leave as soon as possible.

The week after I signed a lease on a duplex in April, I quit my job, knowing that I had enough to live on for a year if I needed to. I live in the Silicon Valley and work in a field that is in high demand. And I am good at it. So I let go of the worry of not finding a job (not easy) and concentrated on only carrying what is healthy and continuing to let go of the rest (also not easy).

This included Weight. And Fear. And Judgment. And Self-Limiting Beliefs, and sadly, People. Some of whom needed to let go of me, too. I knew I had to figure out how to do this properly to allow for everyone’s dignity.

I started by giving myself a year to Reclaim the Badass. I resigned myself to knowing that “Now” means more than just one moment.

I spent a lot of time prepping for the Journey. I gave away 97 boxes of “stuff.” On my wrist, I wore a silver bangle that said “Je Suis Prest.” It is my family motto (Scotland Forever!) and it means “I am ready.” And I began to journal and meditate and pray again.

Today, in the beginning, of October, I have dropped 73 pounds and have almost finished unpacking. It takes a long time to go through the things of people I miss terribly and still be thoughtful about what I want to keep. I have a new job that brings with it its own challenges that are strangely in line with my journey, and now wear a bangle that says “Become.”

This will take longer than a year.

There will be more work, more tears, more letting go, and more of everything that makes me, me. But the Badass is there, and I feel her returning. She is starting to show up in the mirror as my body redefines itself every day. I watch her become responsive rather than reactive to new situations. She sets boundaries now and knows that she does not have rights to other people’s emotions, only hers. She is starting to be funny again, and happy in the moment of Now.

I catch glimpses of her, in the way my hips have started to swing in the way of the swimmer I used to be, in the no hesitation way I hit the gym, or when I let go of a responsibility that isn’t mine to carry emotionally. Or in knowing I am not done writing about this.

Sometimes, showing up in the Now means taking the long way past Never.

Xennial who notices things. Believes in the end user, good research and Mentoring Programs. Writes about her personal journey, and about UX as uxresearch_snax

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