If I had to sum up 2015 in one word, that word would probably be tenacity.
The past few years have been hard. Learning how to live with the darkest days and appreciate the good days seems to have been my life theme for months. 99% of my blog posts seems to follow that stream of thought, but mostly just because my mental health is such an important part of my everyday thinking.
Tenacity is defined as “persistent determination”, and while I don’t often feel that way in the moment, I’ve realized that many of the big things I’ve really wanted to happen this year have happened. For the most part, I’ve made peace with the crash and burn of 2013. I’ve learned more about my family history and formed relationships with some in my biological family. I’ve moved out of my parents’ house and returned to the place that first began to teach me independence. Most importantly, I’ve experienced the pure love of friendship and learned to actually accept it and let people in, instead of holding everyone at arm’s length.
2015 held so many difficult moments for me, but as cliche as it sounds, those moments have forced me to grow. Growing is an ugly, painful experience, but after I begin to make it to the other side, I’m always appreciative of the difficulties I had to fight through. Time after time, that has been my 2015. Luckily, I’ve encountered SO many beautiful souls who have not only shown me love and support, but who have gone out of their way to help me when they can.
This year, when I’m cheering and ringing in the new year, know that I’m cheering you. I’m cheering your love, your support, your lasting friendships that have been the only light on some of those darkest days. You people who transcend traditional friendship- you who are spread all the way from Tyler and Fayetteville to Alaska and Germany- I love you.
Part of my plan for this first year of living in Fayetteville is to really learn to take time for myself, so I’ve been going through this meditation journal for just about two weeks. I found it through the world of instagram (the same way I’ve found many of my favorite current poets), and the premise behind it is just so wonderful. There is one question per day that is different, but then there is a list of the same things to think about every day: daily intentions, what you’re thankful for, things to enjoy and accomplish for the day, and then a couple things to work on. I’ve been able to use it as a daily way to mentally check on myself- to see how my mood shifts from day to day, and to find common themes in my thinking.
One of the questions I really struggled with was how to know when you’ve really healed from something. I written about brain bruises before when tied into depression, which I think is still a great analogy for the reason why it’s so much easier to fall back into that place after thinking you’ve fully recovered.
Yesterday, I was watching one of my girly drama shows during some down time, and one of the characters compared the end of a relationship to a broken bone: it can take a long time to heal, and the pain does eventually go away, but there’s a certain ache that comes back when it rains. I love that because it’s so accurate. It’s so spot on, it’s almost scary.
I thought I was healed from my last heartbreak. I thought I had fully recovered. But that communication opened back up recently, and I allowed myself to become vulnerable again. However, that trust and vulnerability got shut down, and again, the pain was intense. It was a sharp stab that caused all the emotions from a year ago to come boiling to the surface again. Even writing about it now brings the hurt back again.
This is where I come back to the idea of healing. The pain was just as strong as last year. The tears fell just as hard. However, it didn’t last as long. I was able to gather my thoughts and emotions back together more quickly. I didn’t feel as obliterated. I think that’s where the evidence of healing can be found. It’s not the lack of feeling that pain or sadness anymore, it’s the ability to acknowledge the issue and still remain a fully-functioning being. It’s not placing blame anymore, just accepting that there was a major loss. It’s being able to realize that while you may or may not feel that strongly about someone again, the answer will never be found in turning off those emotions and refusing to care about the repercussions of your actions.
So yes, I’ve healed. But I’m still healing. Part of the beauty of the human experience is the constant healing from hurts that life hurls our way.
A year ago today, I was leaving part of my heart in Germany, but I had a plan. I was moving temporarily to Texas as a stopping point until moving to Alaska at the end of 2014. A year ago today, I was in love.
Those close to me know the story. I had finally gotten out of a marriage that was only doing me harm, and I had reconnected with someone who was the first person I had ever liked. We hadn’t gone into anything with the intention of a relationship being the outcome. We were both still recovering from abusive relationships and found comfort in having someone to talk to who could understand those wounds. What started off as casual emails turned into long Skype sessions and eventually just constant conversation during those precious hours that we were both awake. I visited him that August, and those twelve days were spectacular. Nobody had ever understood me that wholly before, and I had never understood someone else on that level. I thought he was it. The end all in partners.
Becoming involved with someone so soon after my divorce wasn’t something I had planned. I was still in the stage of not wanting to ever be with anyone because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to truly trust someone again. I hadn’t given myself time to heal, because part of my moving to Germany was a way to run away from the problems and allow myself enough time to gather my thoughts before dealing with the serious issues lurking in my subconscious.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise when I moved back to the states, but everything almost instantly fell apart and I had no idea what to do. Suddenly, I found myself unwanted in Alaska, unwanted in Texas…unwanted practically everywhere I wanted to be. However, as I struggled though most of this, I began to realize part of the issues was that I was putting my value in terms of how other people viewed me.
I’ve been back from my reality break in Germany for exactly a year now. For a year, I’ve been trying to learn how to see my value outside of others’ opinions, outside of how people act toward me. It’s been a struggle. A massive struggle. It’s been something that I fail at on almost a weekly basis. The person I thought could actually love me through all the monsters changed their mind. Losing that love has caused a down-spiral this past year, but it’s thrown lesson after lesson straight at me.
In a week and a half, I’ll be getting yet another fresh start. I’m moving back to the only place in the states I’ve moved to solely for myself. I’m returning to school, I’ve got a new job, blah, blah, blah….the only important thing to me in this moment, in this reflection time leading up to my move is this: I’m moving to continue my growth as a person. I’m moving to learn more about myself, to prove that I can survive on my own, to fight my own battles, and to discover what I truly want out of my life.
In my life so far, I’ve tended to live for others. I’ve concerned myself so much with pleasing those around me that I’ve lost sight of who I am and what I can accomplish. If I could condense different advice I’ve gotten from a multitude of friends this past year into one phrase, it would be “you have to be more selfish”. I hate that advice mostly because I’ve been taught to not be selfish my entire life, so the idea of living more selfishly is completely opposite of what I’ve known forever. However, living that way has cost me so much in the past few years. Living that way has prevented me from doing things that I can truly be proud of. Living that way has stifled the life I want to be living.
So this year, I still have huge hopes and dreams. This year, I’ve got goals. I’ve got direction. I’ve got a version of me who is finally learning to be strong on her own. No more outside influences, no more giving up what I want for other people, and no more relationships until I can get myself on the right path. This is probably the most intimidating step I’ve ever taken in my life, but with great risk comes great reward, right?
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Five years ago, I was in the last stages of preparing for my wedding. I was excited and nervous, but ready for the next step. I was marrying someone that my family actually liked, that I had fun with, and that I believed in.
Five years ago, I was also a wreck.
For the couple days leading up to my wedding day, any little word or action was strong enough to cause tears and panic. I remember in the hours before the ceremony began, my eyes were in a constant state of overflowing.
As most brides will tell you, most of the actual wedding was a blur. For the most part, everything went smoothly, and we were surrounded by people that we loved dearly. Everything I had pictured during the months of planning worked out, and the setting was gorgeous. At the end of the ceremony, we walked out of the church to The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” because I wanted to really capture the hopeful feeling we had for the future.
We made it three years.
Many people who have to deal with the pain of divorce find it difficult to remember the good times during their marriage, myself included. Far too often, I focus on the bad: losing who I was and the activities that made me feel alive, the emotional detachment, his inability to understand hurting me in the worst of ways. I write terrible poems about those times (poetry is definitely not one of my strengths) because there has to be a way to express that pain without hurting others. Despite all of that, I’ve been trying to reflect on the good this week: the smiles, the laughter, the ability to relax, just having someone around all the time. Because despite all of the ugly and sometimes nightmarish memories, no relationship is without sparks of good.
I never saw myself as someone getting married, let alone divorced. Yet here I am, 26 and almost two years divorced. Most of the time, I try to just forget that part of my life, but it was the majority of my early 20s. It shaped me and still haunts me. It taught me what to look for and what to avoid. I learned how to protect and stand up for myself, even when 90% of the people in my life wanted me to go in an opposite direction. It forced me to become far more independent and to stop settling.
So now, I think I’m finally able to embrace my past as a married woman, my present as a divorcee trying to take on life completely independent, and my unpredictable and unknown future.
I’ve found myself reaching a point of wanting to give up writing on a blog because I’ve started to compare my writing to that of others again. My words aren’t fancy or detailed, I border on being too frank and honest, and I feel like I’m pathetically whiney most of the time. I’m overly critical. I know this. I battle this on a regular basis. I’ve been racking my brain for a way to change this, to get back to a point of really liking what I’m writing and being proud of it.
I think this all stems from a bigger issue. It comes from a place of being too self-conscious, of not being able to really be aware my talents and gifts, of viewing myself as unlovable. Three months ago, I wrote about being the type of person that hides herself away, that makes it difficult for people to connect with beyond a surface level. It’s not that I don’t connect with others- I just don’t think others will be able to handle the trouble and pain I drag along with me in the most self-inflicted forms of baggage that I avoid letting anyone in to help me work through it.
I think this move will be good for me in more than one way. Even though my financial stress will be higher, not living with my parents anymore will be a giant relief. Out of all the things I’ve attempted in the past several years, trying to maintain a civil relationship with them has (shamefully) been the most difficult. There are enough issues there to fill up several books alone, but we do so much better when there is distance between us. What I’m most looking forward to, however, is really focusing on myself.
I realize this is terribly cliche, horribly overdone, and disgustingly cheesy, but I’ve been contemplating a complete separation from the idea of dating or relationships. A quick backstory: I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 17. I didn’t even have many dates to dances…in fact, I got asked to exactly one dance before I entered the dating world. None of that is bad, but the fact that I was so disappointed, so heartbroken- that I placed so much value on the opposite gender’s lack of interest in me- that is the part I don’t like. When I finally had a guy in my life that was interested in me, I didn’t really stop to think about if he was the type of person I really wanted to be with. I just went with it. I settled into the mediocracy of it all.
From that day in August of 2006 until last November, I hadn’t gone longer than a few months without some sort of love interest in my life. Most of them weren’t worth the effort. We didn’t click or even really appreciate each other, we just kept each other from being lonely. That’s a huge stretch of my life of simply avoiding loneliness…eight years. Arguably some of the most important years in life for figuring out who you are and what you want from life. In that time, I can say with certainty that I was only with one person who even slightly understood the underlying thoughts driving my actions, who was able to get through the surface, get to know the real person underneath, and actually be supportive of that person.
I’ve had crushes since last November. I’ve been so interested in this one person that it’s torn me up inside. I’ve gotten my hopes up, those same hopes obliterated, and my emotions all tangled up that I haven’t been able to decipher up from down and good from bad. The most irritating part? I’ve taken all the blame. I’ve just viewed it all as something I’ve been doing wrong, that I’m not good enough. It’s a terrible way to think. Really, there is no blame to be placed. There is no wrong person in this situation. It’s just that there are feelings that aren’t reciprocated and nothing will change that.
I think accepting that fact is a good first step in beginning to appreciate myself. In stopping the blame and degrading attitude I have toward myself. It’s so self-destructive. If healing is going to continue, if I’m going to finally be able to be proud of who I am and what I’m doing with my life, the self-destructive behavior has to take a permanent vacation. I’m not giving myself a specific time frame for this break from the idea of relationships and dating, but I am making a very specific declaration for myself to end all ideas of being with another person until I can fully be content and joyful with who I am, what I’m doing, and where I’m going in life.