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  • Kate Litteken

Three small words......

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Step by step. Day by day. Keep on breathing. I got this.

These have become my mantra. The daily voices inside my head that serve as a constant reminder that I can, and will, continue to be me. The issue is that I am not sure who I am anymore. I think that somewhere between 26yrs and 46yrs I got lost. That the person I saw myself as when I was standing on the edge of young adulthood was swallowed up by the obligations and fears of reality. But still, I welcomed adulthood with open arms.

I can recall with such vivid clarity the glee and joy that the freedom of a boat ride would bring. The way that the sun felt as it warmed, and slightly burned, my skin. How the brush of fingers and my name whispered created what felt like a root system anchoring me to the world I wandered and then staked claim too. It was stunning. The dreams of what the future held. Dancing in the kitchen. Laying in the grass and holding hands just because. I was relaxed. Carefree. I could breathe.

I think somewhere along the journey I forgot how to breathe. I'm not sure if its when we had our first child. Or when my first husband entered the Under Cover Narcotics Unit. Or when we had our miscarriage. Or when he left me on my 30th birthday, for a friend of ours, 5 months pregnant with a 3year old to care for. Or if it was when I turned a blind eye to the red flags presented, in hindsight clearly, of husband number two. Or when my brother tragically died. Or when husband number two left on Mothers Day for a younger co-worker. Or when he rejected three of four children and to this day refuses to speak to them. Or when I opened my heart to my oldest friend and he returned it on New Years Day.

But amongst the tragedy and chaos there was, and still is, happiness. There are moments that shine so bright that I stare into the faces of those that I love in wonder of how I was blessed to be chosen for them. When I think back on my "happy" moments they all circle around my family. What successes my children have had. Seeing them happy. Overcoming health obstacles. Achieving new heights. There are few "happy" moments that include just me. Is that because the focus right now is parenting, raising well adjusted children into healthy stable adults? Maybe. Or maybe I have forgotten what makes me happy. But I think happy is the wrong word for me. I am happy. I love my family. I know my fortunes. But, I don't know who I am outside of being a mother, a protector, a provider, a safe place for others.

Somewhere I forgot to breathe. I forgot how to be me. I forgot who I was. Little by little I felt me recede into the shadows and what stepped forth was a dulled version of who I could have been. I need to remember how to breathe. I want to breathe. The journey to rediscover who I am begins now.

If I was asked to write a narrative it would look something like this. I am a single mother of four amazing souls. I am loyal to those I love to a fault at times. I take my responsibilities seriously. I am a hard worker. I am a fierce defender of my people. I struggle with telling people I love no and will exhaust myself to help them. I feel guilty when I take time for myself because of the perceived burden it places on others. I love to read and watch romantic comedies but they make me sad now. I used to think I was funny. Now I think I'm jaded and sarcastic. I have a voice that I don't use after years of speaking and not being heard. I have chapters of love to live and no one to share the book with. I used to like who I was, now I look in the mirror and wonder who I am looking at. I hear my voice and hear the hurt that seems to permeate my soul but that is invisible to others. Many days I feel invisible. Lost in this gigantic small world. I am the "fixer". The one that others turn to when chaos has walked into their lives. I am pragmatic and steadfast. I am strong, but growing tired of being the rock that gets battered by the swelling storms. I want a safe place, a person to see me, to hear me, to know I need a hug. I sometimes wonder where my Sentinel wandered off too or why we have yet to meet.

So it is time for me. It is time for me to find myself. To look in the mirror and recognize the reflection. To hear my voice and hear sunshine instead of rain. To laugh a laugh that rocks my soul and begins to heal the cracks within.

Step by step. Day by day. Keep on breathing. I got this. To find joy. To find love. To find happiness. Three small words........To find Me.

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