What A Difference A Year Makes

Today I went out with some friends for lunch and over coffee and quiche, the conversation turned deep and intense. Discussion of past relationships and their effect on our psyches, revelations of chinks in our self-esteem, our fears and insecurities. I shared with them a realization I’d had just the other day that disturbed me: Whenever someone asks me how things are going, I always feel like I need to qualify it if I’m not in a successful relationship. It occurred to me the lens through which I see myself and my worth as an individual is colored very intensely by whether or not I am successfully coupled with someone. That struck me as ridiculous and limiting and I felt determined to change the way I see myself.

After the conversation, I got to musing about the past year of my life. This time last year I was a complete mess. The final phase of my relationship with D had ended with great finality and my self-esteem and emotional health were depleted. I went into a deep depression and felt like I had fallen into an abyss I’d never be able to pull myself out of. I hadn’t experienced such bleakness since the end of my marriage and I despaired, feeling completely broken. I questioned life, even knowing I had to continue living for the sake of my children. Yet dragging myself through the motions of trying to live with the weight of sadness which lay on my heart was exhausting. The realization that I wanted to cease existing because of the level of pain I was in terrified me. I knew I couldn’t continue any longer.

So I went back into therapy. Boy, was that a grueling and uncomfortable process! A brand new therapist who refused to be gentle with me, who refused to allow me to hide. Instead, he relentlessly pulled back all my layers until I felt fragile and exposed. Only when I was completely naked and shivering emotionally, sitting and weeping until I thought I’d be ill, did he say “Now. Now I finally feel like I see you. Maybe it’s time you let other people see the real you too.” I hated him for months while I tried to do the hard work of dealing with all of my accumulated shit.

I went back and tried again with an ex-lover whom I’d walked away from during the turmoil with D. It was a mistake and I realized too late his issues were trigger buttons for me that I couldn’t accept, so I ran before I could love him. I still feel sorrow knowing I hurt him, even as I know I could have loved him and it would have ended in more pain for both of us. I found another lover who swept me up in his intense, sexy madness until I felt drenched in pure, undiluted passion. When it was over, suddenly, I learned how to feel my grief and anger completely, then release them. I let him go and this time, unlike with so many others, I didn’t try to make it work when it clearly wasn’t going to.

I sit here tonight in my cozy little cottage home, sipping a glass of wine and looking out at the snow that’s falling down, contemplating where I’m at in life. Several times over the last month or two, I’ve felt pure joy for no reason at all. In fact, yesterday and today I was mostly filled with contentment and for a few moments, profound happiness.

The unusual feelings coursing through my body–lightness, hope, freedom, joy–elicited such an intense response I felt tears come to my eyes. I think in the last year, all the hard work and soul-searching I’ve been doing has started to finally pay off. The albatross of my failed relationship with D finally lifted from my neck and set me free. The feelings of diminishment are gone; I feel empowered, strong and healthy. Even my troubled relationship with the father of my children has given me fresh perspective on the end of my marriage and all the pain that resided there.

I’m not naïve enough to think this feeling will last forever. I’ve struggled with depression off and on most of my life. Yet I feel like I’ve pulled myself up out of the abyss and at least for now, achieved a victory. What a difference a year can make in someone’s life! My realistic hope is that my determination last year to get healthy emotionally and physically and the work I’ve done since then will allow me to maintain the momentum, so those moments of happiness begin to string together into a necklace of light I can wrap around myself in moments when the darkness comes. Memories that whisper, “Hey, you’ve been here before and you made your way out. You’ve got this!” and help illuminate my path.

For right this moment, I’m going to try really hard to enjoy pleasures as they come: Making snow angels with my children until our cheeks are crimson with cold and laughter. The cozy comfort of warm blankets while the snow falls outside. The bittersweet taste of chocolate on my tongue while I dive into a good book. The luxuriousness of a hot bubble bath and a cold glass of wine. The pleasure of touching and being touched. The joy of singing at the top of my lungs while I clean my house. The look of amazement on my daughter’s face when we achieve baking the perfect cheesecake.  The strength and power in my body when I do downward dog or warrior pose. The realization that I’m powerful and complete all by myself and that a partner is something I want, not something I need.

The hope and promise that each day brings when I’m not so lost in the darkness I can’t see it. For at least tonight, that necklace of happy moments is hanging around my neck, lighting my way into the year to come.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: