I haven't always been MonkeyGirl. I'm not talking about the nickname, but the person that MonkeyGirl represents. There was a point in time in my life where the essence of MonkeyGirl all but disappeared.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I started to lose my essence. Heck, I didn't even know that I was changing. But I did. In ways that I never dreamed that I would change. I became the person that someone else wanted me to be instead of just being me.
Sometimes life kicks you in the gut. A life changing event takes place that makes you wake up out of the fog. You take a look around and you wonder "How the f*ck did I get here?" It is a scary feeling at first. But just like the morning fog lifting up off the horizon, things start to clear up. You can't make out all of the details, but you aren't completely disoriented anymore. Things start to look familiar, but yet, you still aren't sure where you are at. In a blink of an eye, things completely clear. The fog is gone. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the path you need to follow is right in front of you. It was right there in front of you all along but you just couldn't see it.
At some point in my life with #1, I got lost in the fog. I didn't see it happen. I thought I was the same ol' MonkeyGirl and everyone else got stupid. Or refused to grow up. Or some other excuse that I made for their strange behavior. Only later did I realize that it was ME that changed. I lost my Monkeygirl-ness. I let him lead me down the path into the dense fog. I trusted him and he led me astray.
It was a freezing cold January day when I woke up out of my daze. I was standing on the parking lot of a funeral home - alone. I was grieving like everyone else on that day, yet why was I the only one without a shoulder to cry on? Why was I the one that was shut out and shuffled to the end of the line like a casual acquaintance? It wasn't a complete stranger's funeral, it was my father-in-law's, I had a right to mourn over the loss of a good man. I tried to share my sorrow, offer my support, but I was just pushed away. Ignored. Forgotten.
It was at that point that I started to realize that I wasn't happy. I started to see things in a completely different light. It was like getting that first pair of glasses - you had no idea how much you had been missing until now. We tried, we really did, but in the end, it was time for #1 and I to go our separate ways.
Shortly after my divorce was final, I went on a trip with MonkeyMamma. I had just put a contract on a house. I was going to school full time. I was working full time. I had reconnected with old friends that were once considered too "stupid" to be around. There must be something about the fresh, clean air of the Northwest that clears the mind. Or maybe it was just being relaxed and content. Either way, it was on this trip that I made a decision. I was going to live my life - my monkeygirl life - my way.
I recall the exact moment that everything changed in my mind. I was standing at the foot of a waterfall. Completely surrounded by the other tourists taking in the gorgeous view. I had an option, take a few snapshots and move on to the next stop or take a hike up the trail to see the falls from the top. I was scared to take the hike. Both mentally and physically. Physically, I was seriously out of shape. I wasn't sure I could make it to the top. Mentally, I was afraid to try. What if I failed? I started to think about all of the things I hadn't tried or done over the past several years because I was afraid. Afraid of failing or afraid of being criticized. I was suddenly very weary of being afraid. What would happen if I tried it and I failed? Nothing. The earth wouldn't stop turning.
That day was a pivotal point in returning to my Monkeygirl life. I had already taken the first steps towards normalcy by leaving #1. The person I really was started to emerge from the fog. That summer day I decided that I was no longer going to live my life with regrets. If I wanted to try something, I would try it. If I wanted to go somewhere, I would go there.
I've lived my life since #1 without regret. I have climbed numerous waterfalls. I've ridden in a race car at 180 mph. I've kayaked in the ocean and have had dolphins swim under my boat. I've stood up and presented my ideas in meetings at work. I got the courage up to face my weight challenge and lost 50+ pounds. I got my belly button pierced well past the age where this is the norm. I dared to leave the house in a bikini. I've ridden the Tower of Terror. I've taken hockey slap shots on Olympic ice. I've spent time with family and friends whenever I have had the chance. I put myself out here as a blogger. I've met new friends, tried new foods, seen new places, and stretched myself into the new and improved Monkeygirl. I've reconnected with old friends and rediscovered the things that I used to love to do. I might not try something more than once, but at least I tried it and have a valid reason to not "go there" again.
I offer this story up as a testament that it is ok to take a chance. To do the things that you are afraid to do. The earth will continue to spin. And best of all, when you are old and gray, you will have some wonderful memories of all the things you have accomplished in your life. A life with no regrets. So go out and seize the day!