It isn’t my norm to post about personal goings-on here—except when they have the potential to help others. Then? I’m all for it.
Today I want to talk about something universal: learning to be strong when there’s no other choice. And right now, there is no other choice.
In the past nine months I have:
- Negotiated a marital separation and helped mediate a divorce.
- Fixed up (on my own) and sold a house.
- Found a job, discovered a new career path, got educated, and completed training (none of which could have been done without the help of so many amazing and selfless friends!).
- Learned the ins and outs of apartment leases, banking, contracts, and utilities.
- Fixed an air conditioner, a refrigerator, a car, and set up a home Wi-Fi network.
- Navigated a road trip and overnight stay with a 2e child.
- Made the decision to continue homeschooling.
- Realized how little we truly need and decluttered accordingly (an on-going process).
- Created a miserly budget that still allows us breathing room. (Note: I do receive support, for which I am extremely grateful, but it won’t last forever, and I’ve made it a goal to stand on my own as soon as possible.)
In all fairness, being married never meant I couldn’t do the above; it just meant there was always someone to help who knew more than I did in some areas. Now? It’s all on me. There’s nowhere to pass the buck, and I’m coming to the realization that I no longer want to.
The time alone has given me the chance to process the past twenty years, whether I felt ready or not. And I know now why things went off track, not only in marriage but in life. Actually, derailed is a better term, as it more aptly conveys my loss of self. The blame for that lies solely on my own shoulders, and I know with certainty that it is possible to bend so far you break (i.e., compromise becomes compromising). Finding yourself again . . . well, it isn’t easy, but it is possible. I went searching and am in the process of discovering who I am. I have learned that:
- Creating puts me at peace: art, writing, and home.
- Time outside every day keeps me sane: bug hunts, solo hikes, and sometimes just wandering.
- Loosening up expectations is necessary: for life, my kid, and my self.
- There is a difference between what I thought I needed in order to be happy and what I actually need.
Let me say it straight: Bad things happen. Things break, people disappoint, and opportunities fall apart. But when you have no other choice, you learn just how strong you can be. I’ve hauled a 60-plus-pound kid up four flights of stairs every day for a week, cried alongside that same kid over the changes in our family, braved the terror of opening up again, learned how to become comfortable around people, and generally stop beating myself up over perceived faults and feelings of guilt.
I am becoming. Every day, a little more. And it’s scary and beautiful and dizzying and wonder-filled.
My goals for the next six months are to:
- Teach a combination writing and yoga class for kids (with the help of a good friend).
- Write my first grant.
- Continue making my child a priority.
- Establish new holiday traditions.
- Take at least one more road trip.
And through it all to remember what matters and what doesn’t.
Those of you out there who are going through similar life changes, please know you are not alone. You can do this, and you will make it through.