51 and Done

Good morning! I’m 51 and done.

More accurately, I’m done with some things and expanding to others. There are things I am doing now that are different and things I’m declaring as true for me.

I am done being an employee, at least for now. I’m a consultant, only consulting currently for my former and much, much beloved recent employer. I’m doing this part time for a season as I settle into a new life. “New” has been the buzz word of my life this year. New home, new to city living, newish to empty nesting. But other things are new now as well.

I’m done being a sibling of only a few. Indeed, news break, I have a new sibling, just discovered in the past year, which is all at once amazing, exciting, sad and real (this is probably true of most family sagas in some way or another). My current count is ELEVEN siblings. All are half, and all are loved, those I’ve known my whole life, those I’ve met recently, even those I don’t yet know. I’ve talked with an author who wrote about the emotions of learning new parentage and gaining new siblings, and you feel real kinship with others who have weathered this storm, but this author’s experience emanates from the sperm donor context (where some people learn they have hundreds of half siblings). My story is not one of fertility clinics but relationships. It has a different tenor in that regard–love or like or lust, and infidelity and heartbreak and oh-so-many repercussions and complications. It’s sadness in so many ways, real life in so many others, with blessings seeping from the cracks of despair (most especially having my real dad–the one who loved me like his own because he always viewed me that way–still in my life).

I’m done being Latina. I’ve grown in my understanding of race and ethnicity and who gets to claim what. It was exciting to announce I am Latina and Indiginous American, but it wasn’t real in one sense. My DNA may say one thing, but my life and privilege and circumstances tell another, truer truth. I’m white. Really white, as my kids would tell you. My identity is southern American, and all of the messiness that entails for me.

I’m done being a Catholic who thinks she has to be in lockstep with the Church. Yes, I’m still a Catholic, though at times that feels really tenuous, but I’m not a fully orthodox one. I question the Church’s teaching on a few, major matters after prayer, thought and study (one might call that a “well-formed conscience”–see, my Catholic is showing). Indeed, I disagree the Church is right on these matters (and yes, these are matters of “faith and morals” and therefore I am questioning my beloved Church’s infallability. WHAAAT….This is where devout Catholics close the browser). I wonder what a local church should be often and am not fully content with what I see in many places. I very much agree with most if not all of its social teachings. But as a chronic malcontent, I disagree on some matters of faith and morals, and it goes without saying I am appalled and furious at the hierarchy (including hierarchy at the parish level which is or has been complicit and lay people who choose to have their heads in the sand), and the vast, deep and horrid sins that continue to surface.

I’m done hiding behind just a few labels. Yes, I’m still an attorney and a swimmer, a wife, a mom, a sister, an aunt and a best friend. But I’m something else. I’m a writer now. Actually, I’ve always been a writer, but never called myself one. I love to write. It’s theraputic, clarifying and edifying all at the same time. I may not be a great one, and I may never be a published one other than in some niche areas, but it is who I am. I’m an auditory learner but it is in the creation of written work that I find solace and hope, and where I am most often crafting my future plans.

I’m 51 and done.

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