Unashamedly Arlene

Through the years and seasons, I’ve seen styles come and go, feelings be ever present and feelings be ever faded, best friends become old friends and Mr. Right become Mr. what was I thinking? Being 32 now, and having lived in 4 major U.S. cities, I sometimes have to remind myself that I have been through experiences that not every person has been through and seen things that many won’t see in their whole lifetime. I’ve clichély loved and I’ve lost. I’ve seen life being birthed and life being jeopardized. I’ve partied til the sun has come up 3 times and I’ve also found Jesus and spent weekends reading, praying and serving. When I put it on paper, I have to pause and realize that despite my current feelings about where I am in life, I HAVE truly been fortunate to have gone where I’ve gone and done what I’ve done and still be here to tell you guys about it.

I look back at the ages of innocence where my biggest problems were bed times, curfews and when would I finally be old enough to be my own boss. My childhood by no means perfect but when I look back at the big things happening then, they seem so small. I actually yearn for some of those “big problems” again now versus real #adulting problems. You know? Like this whole work thing. WHY must I confine my free spirit to the strict discipline of Mondays through Fridays? Lol Can anyone relate?

Anyways, I look back to my 1st taste of freeeeeeedom. College. To put it lightly, this is where all heck broke loose. I could barely contain myself in having all the sleepovers I never had as a child, staying out til whenever I good and well felt like it, wearing what I felt was “my style” and dating a boy until I nearly smothered the poor guy to death. Oh man! Still sorry about that! I managed a few tattoos and piercings simply because I could. I didn’t know how to act with all the walls of security that my mother built around me being non-existent. I was free to ride life like a highway. I was also free to crash on that highway, shut down that highway and cause miles and miles of backed up traffic. And that I did.

I endured through dark seasons of shame and promiscuity. Life often had no meaning during these times. I lived by the motto that “anything goes” and found my previously new found freedom transform into my new shackle and chain. I was so free to do anything that I often did things I regretted, said things that still make me cringe when I think about it, hurt people and hurt myself in ways that only God can restore. I lost myself and avoided mirrors since I didn’t recognize the reflection anymore – or was disgusted by it.

Now at 32, I can honestly say that I’m not any of those people anymore but the combination of those seasonal phases have made me who I am today. I have not arrived nor do I plan to ever fully feel as I have. Discipline is no longer a dreaded word and freedom is no longer an unaccountable one. To clichély put it again, I have lived and I have learned. I’ve learned to look back at my younger carefree self and challenge my adult self not to lose the spontaneity and curiosity I once had. I look back to my wild and reckless days and remind myself the emptiness that existed in those days. I remind myself of lack of purpose and plethora of false friendships that surrounded me and most importantly I remember all the pain and hurt of those days that by God’s grace I have overcome but not without consequence. I look in the mirror today and can accept the good, the bad and the ugly and truthfully say that I unashamedly me. That’s big!!

I was once challenged to always keep at the front of my head what I wanted to be remembered as. It didn’t matter if it was at work, in a relationship or in this world. What did I want to be remembered as? I want to be remembered for being a girl that sometimes went hard and sometimes shyed away. I made great choices and I also made great mistakes. I loved hard and I lacked love. I fell and got back up. I shook my tail feather to the beat of my own drum and also lacked grace when anyone disturbed my peace. (I’m trying to do better). All in all I was willing to journey through life being unashamedly me and learning what that meant. Through that, people related, were consoled and received encouragement as our paths crossed.

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