I’m not the same girl I once was – and I am thankful for that.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard over the last few years “You used to be so fun” and “You were such an instigator” and “You were always the wild one.”  Past tense.  All of it.

I’ve always been spunky, blunt, and adventurous.  I was always wild.  I was always “Erin.”

Have I changed in the last 10 years?  Yes.  Have I changed even more so in the last 5? Absolutely.

What happened?  Life.  Life happened.

Some minor adjustments happened when I earned my BS and was pushed off in the world in my first big girl job.  I was officially an accountant.  I couldn’t screw this up if I wanted to make something of myself so I had to give up some things.  I also moved out of my parents house and went on my own for the first time.  So many new responsibilities kind of leveled some of the wildness.  And that’s OK.  There comes a time in everyone’s life where you need to figure out what you want to do with yourself and adjust your actions accordingly.  That’s all fine and dandy but I was still adventurous, spur of the moment, and slightly wild – only on the weekends.

So why am I this total ball of anxiety today?  Why can’t I drop everything spur of the moment and do something adventurous?  Why do I get asked what happened to cause this much change?  Why do I watch my mouth and actions?  Again, Life.  Life happened.

Part of life is growing up, learning from past experiences, and paving a good path for your future and your children’s future.  I’m not going to go into specifics on what has shaken me this much as it will only cause unnecessary drama.  Briefly, my experiences over the past few years have really changed me.  I’ve lived through fear of the unknown, extreme joy, heart breaking losses, mental abuse, nearly losing my life, and more unknowns.  The past just over 2 years have seen the most stability I have had in almost a decade even with all the craziness of parenting and higher education, so even though I may not be wild and carefree I am here, I am alive, and I have my family.

I don’t mind not being able to drop everything and do something fun for myself because my biggest concern right now is setting the best example I can for Joey.  That is why I watch my mouth and actions.  I also don’t want to lose a single second with him after the trauma of child loss and nearly losing my own life.  Life is precious and can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

PTSD and Anxiety are real, especially after all the traumatic experiences I have been through.  And they are really scary to have to deal with sometimes, but I am OK and have found ways to handle it.  Please understand that people go through things that change them, and the change isn’t always a bad thing rather a life changing experience.  Joey is a better child because of it and I cherish him more than I think I could have as a result.  I’ll never be that girl from the first 22 years of my life, but that’s OK.  I’m still “Erin” no matter what anyone thinks.  I just act a little different now.  And for that I am thankful.

On Thanksgiving this year, don’t focus on how different people have become, rather focus on the improvements they have made.  Be thankful they are here and enjoying your company.

Also, the holiday season can be incredibly stressful for those who have issues such as depression and anxiety so be there for them.  Extend an ear.  Open your house.  Pour a cup of tea.  Anything.  Show them they are so loved and cared for.  That little extra something may be all they need to keep pushing.

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving with your friends and family.