Archive for the self-improvement Category

Old, Alone and Done For

Posted in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , on October 29, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Several years ago, there was a Peter Pan remake film that my children loved. Near the end of the film, as the villainous Hook is being conquered, the children around him begin to chant, as he attempts to escape using the happy thoughts of pixie dust, “Old, Alone and done for!”

Hook begins to falter, his internal fears suddenly arrested by the growing chant.

“Old, alone and done for!”

Old, alone and done for!”

Hook slowly begins to sink, weighed down by his sad thoughts and fears, until he is eaten by the waiting crocodile below.

Lately, I’ve felt a lot like Hook.

About a month ago, I tore my ACL. Surgery was required and I was three weeks post-op as of yesterday. The recovery has been humbling, to say the least. Despite my best intentions of independence, I ended up staying at my parents for three nights following the surgery, drugged and dizzy and in pain. I went home and was barely able to hobble around on crutches. I started back to work slightly over a week past the surgery, aware that life had to move on, yet by the end of each day I was wiped out.

Today, I managed to straighten my leg completely for the first time in a month. It’s a victory won through hard effort, which I know will escape me after a night of sleep. Tomorrow I will begin the process again of stretching and strengthening, until eventually, after enough months of therapy, my knee remembers what it’s supposed to do and I don’t have to grasp the simple concepts of motion all over again. It doesn’t help that nerves in my leg were cut, which leaves most of my shin completely numb. I feel like I”m dragging a zombie leg around most of the time They tell me the nerves will, hopefully, regenerate after a year or so.

Two years of serious physical fitness, nearly down the toilet in a month. Now I’m resigned to simple exercises to  strengthen my mostly useless muscles, that a month ago would have made me laugh.

I feel physically vulnerable and weak, my body incapable of things it has always been capable of–the simple act of movement without difficulty.

What I hadn’t counted on was the emotional demons this injury and surgery would conjure. Loneliness, fears of being alone, fears of being vulnerable, insecurity over aging.

Over the last three weeks, I have wept off and on indiscriminately. I have found a new fear of my singledom–now not only has it represented the fear that I am less than those who are coupled and the insecurity that my loneliness will be a permanent condition–it has also represented the fear of being incapacitated and by myself. Family and friends have helped me through the worst of things, but even they couldn’t quite compensate for the fact that I live alone. Suddenly, being single seemed to have negative impact beyond the sentimental. Now, it seemed like a practical disadvantage as well.

I’ve had to face the fear of “What if this never changes?”

Right now, I feel incredibly vulnerable, emotionally and physically. I’m trying my damndest to strengthen myself and put on a brave face. A lot of the time, I just feel like taking to my bed and hiding.

But of course, I don’t. I stretch and strengthen and smile.

“I’m getting better every day!”

“I’ll be better than ever in a few months.”

“Now I’ve got something to work for.”

I’m trying really hard to ignore that fear in my head that says I’ll be alone forever, that this is the start of a long progression of things that go wrong with my body and that I’ll never win. Because that is defeatist and just the exhaustion and residue of trauma left over from the surgery. I know that this is just a blip in my life and I need to be patient and just work at getting better. I know that I have loved and been loved and that will come again, I just haven’t met the right person yet. There is nothing whatsoever that would prevent me from finding someone who will love me and want to be with me and I just need to have patience for that as well.

Acceptance and patience seem to be the two things I need the most of lately and they are two of the things I find very challenging.

I’m trying especially hard to blot out the voices that whisper, when I’m tired and aching and lonely:

“Old, alone and done for.”

I’m vibrant, fairly healthy and far from done for. So it’s time to rally and face my demons and battle them down. I may not be able to vanquish them totally, but unlike Hook, I’ve still got a lot of happy thoughts I can reach for when those damn, pesky demons start whispering.

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To Those Who Let Me Go: A Post of Gratitude

Posted in Dating, intuition, love, objectifying women, Parenting, parenting after divorce, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, single moms with tags , , , on May 29, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Last night, as I was putting my youngest child to bed, she looked at me and said: “Mommy, I know why you haven’t found the right person yet. It’s because every man who has met you so far knows down deep he isn’t worthy of you, so he has to let you go. When you meet someone whose mind is open, who’s worthy of you, then it will be the right person and he won’t let you go. All those other guys were just saving you pain because they knew they weren’t worthy of your love.”

Sometimes my children humble me and I feel like the child listening to their wisdom.

After my last dating run-in, these were words I badly needed to hear and imprint upon my mind and heart. My former boss, with whom I am still good friends, recently said that he planned to give a memo to my new boss letting them know their highest priority needed to be building up my confidence…in all areas of my life. My first tendency, in almost everything, is to doubt myself. What did I do wrong? What could I have done to change things?

My last date did several things that were unacceptable. Despite having let him know I didn’t plan to sleep with him that night, he was super aggressive and at one point said, “Are you going to make me beg to fuck you?” When he stood from the couch and pulled me up with him, I gently and playfully said, “Sit back down.” To which he responded with barely concealed irritation: “Don’t tell me to sit. I’m not a dog.” Finally, trying to defuse what was becoming a tense situation while he attempted to move our physical relationship to the next level (despite my having said “No” several times), I informed him I was on my period and that it definitely wouldn’t be happening that night. He very seriously asked, “Well, haven’t you ever had sex on your period?”

As I documented in my last blog, I agreed to a third date (more on that later), which he then canceled within days, abruptly ,and with what would have been no explanation if I hadn’t asked outright. The man who had gone on and on about how intelligent, interesting, deep, funny, beautiful and sexy I was, abruptly lost interest after I wouldn’t sleep with him. Especially when he implied he’d found someone else who would by stating “I’ve gone on a date with someone else and I think I want to pursue that before you and I go further.” Complete and total 180, within 2 days.

First of all: I’m sad that I agreed to a third date. I’m sad that I’ve grown in so many ways, but have not yet grown into a woman who feels powerful enough to recognize when disrespect, rather than desire and devotion, is what’s being offered. I feel sad that the thought of being wanted, even by someone I’m not certain I want, still makes me feel like I am “more” than being alone. I once again have to look into my own personal mirror and realize that passiveness and desire to avoid confrontation is a problem that’s led to some heartbreaking situations; it’s still present, despite my efforts to rise up, speak my truths and stand my ground. I’ll fight for what I believe is right. I’ll fight for the sake of others. Apparently, fighting for myself is something I still need to master. I know that eventually my intuition and courage would have risen and I’d have listened to them enough to have not tolerated the situation indefinitely, but my first response is still one that honors the other person more than me. That absolutely has to change. It breaks my heart that my first internal question, after the boorish behavior of my date, was to wonder why he didn’t want me. My go-to feeling is one of shame and lack of worth, which creates a cycle in which I’m always grasping at someone else who can make me feel worthy, which means I’m then willing to accept things that SHOULD be unacceptable.

Second, my beautiful, precious child who loves me so much, has helped to inspire me toward a deeper awareness of all these thought patterns. This man didn’t cancel our date because I’m not enough; he canceled because he’s not. He’s not enough to inspire my trust or love and he’s not man enough to build my admiration. Instead of feeling like I’m unworthy, I need to feel grateful that he released me at a time when I didn’t see myself (or him) with enough clarity to make a decision that was in my best interest. I need to feel empowered to fight for myself, to love myself and to hold out for someone who really sees me. Not just someone who wants to “fuck” me, whether I am ready for that step or not, and who’ll leave for the first woman who doesn’t tell him no. I need to stay strong and realize that I am complete and worthy on my own.

So today, I’m trying to feel a sense of gratitude for all those men who released me from their lives, even when I didn’t understand why. Perhaps it is that on some level, they realized they couldn’t be the man I needed them to be, rather than it being an expression of my lack of worth. I’m going to try to have gratitude that in those moments when I felt lonely and weak and couldn’t reach clarity, something moved them to let me go. Because one day there will be a man who really sees me. He’ll see I’m often serious and introspective, but that I’m easily pulled into silly fun and I’m quick to laugh. He’ll recognize that my tranquility and ability to intellectualize situations masks strong and powerful emotions and he’ll think my passion is sexy. He’ll know that one of my greatest gifts and weaknesses is my ability give completely and deeply, but he won’t take advantage of it by always putting his own needs above mine. He’ll appreciate my sensuality, without feeling entitled to my sexuality unless I’m ready to share it. He won’t be perfect, because I’m certainly not. But he’ll be perfect for me.

I’m lonely, but I will work on believing in and trusting myself and not settling. I will choose to believe my daughter who holds my face in her hands and says, “Mommy, I don’t know why you’re not married again. It seems like every man in the world would be in love with you. You’re the most beautiful, wonderful, loving person I know and I love you so much.”

With someone like that on my side, how can I possibly lose hope?

In memory of a victorious, beautiful spirit: “To those who have given up on love: I say, “Trust life a little bit.” ~ Maya Angelous

Melancholy Mermaid

Posted in anxiety, depression, parenting after divorce, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , , on April 4, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Seven years ago, I took what would prove to be a momentous trip. In the middle of a deep depression, the collapse of my marriage and the unrelenting arguments between my husband and myself, I knew I had to get a breather. Feeling like I had failed at everything in my life and not really wanting to live, I made plans to head to the beach, alone. This meant leaving my husband and my very young children, driving cross country, and being alone for the longest period of time in my entire life.  I’d only ever spent the night away on my own once before. To leave everyone behind for 10 whole days while I tried to recover from a nervous breakdown and decide what the hell I needed to do to pick up the broken pieces of my life was terrifying. I drove straight through without stopping, arrived at my beachfront condo, then celebrated my 33rd birthday alone the next night.

The ocean has always called to me and if I spend too long away from it, I start to feel edgy. My soul feels soothed in a very profound way when I hear the waves and feel the sand between my toes. In some ways, the solitude was exactly what I needed to heal. In other ways, it was extremely dangerous for me to be by myself. I didn’t feel enthusiasm for life. I thought of my marriage and I felt profound sorrow and hopelessness. My husband didn’t love me and I was pretty certain he hadn’t loved me in quite a long time, despite the fact that he was “making the best of it”. I’d made horrible choices that haunted me, but that I couldn’t escape from. I felt like I’d failed as a parent and wondered if my children would be better off without me. I’d never felt so alone and I’d never been so close to the brink of saying “fuck it” and giving up completely.

After an aborted suicide by drowning that is almost comical when narrated, I realized I didn’t really want to live but wasn’t sure I wanted to die.  Probably the less said about the trip, the better. I survived it, my husband and children joined me after 10 days. After pleading and begging my husband to stay with us for the remainder of the time, he refused and left to go back home, an abandonment which would set the tone for the future. When I returned home, scarred from my experiences and feeling fragile, I knew I needed safety first and that didn’t involve hours and hours of verbal sparring. So I asked for a trial separation, just to give us a space between interactions to retreat to…which turned into a permanent separation.

I’ve been to the beach location since then, but always in the company of other family members. When I decided to return this year, I was excited at the thought of a week away and the thought of being near the ocean. I hadn’t counted on the nearly crippling anxiety that would begin to plague me as I got closer to the trip. Memories, incredibly painful memories, began to surface and I struggled with the thought of going. I had fleeting moments where I wondered if it was a good idea, then I thought I was being ridiculous and tried to just take a deep breath. I wasn’t the same person and my life wasn’t the same.

Driving toward my destination, as my children were engrossed in their own activities to pass the time, my mind returned over and over to the past. I found tears streaming down my face and my anxiety returning. What was I thinking? I should have picked a different location. I shouldn’t have even attempted to come to this place again without support, distractions, a way to distance myself from everything that had happened 7 years earlier.

Yet as we drew closer, at the first sight of the water, I felt something in my chest ease. The excitement of my children and the scent of the ocean water buoyed my spirits. As our days have passed here, I’ve been mostly fine. A few stray moments here and there were I’ve had a hard time not getting bogged down by the memories, but I’ve mainly felt happy and relaxed. I feel like I’ve reclaimed this place I’ve been coming to since I was a child. The bad memories aren’t banished, but they haven’t completely ruined the experience for me. This has been a wonderful time with my children.

I have felt some sorrow thinking of what it could be like if seven years ago, my husband hadn’t chosen to leave when I’d asked him to stay with us, be a family with us for the rest of the week. I can’t help but muse about what would have happened if he’d taken me by the hand and said, “I love you and I want our family and I’m willing to be here while we figure it out.” He didn’t and it’s hard to know what effect that would have had. Given our current relationship, I certainly can’t even picture a life with him now, nor do I want one. Still, that’s the thing about choices: Each one means a different path in the road and a different possible outcome.

I’ve spent a lifetime believing that if I feel a moment of sadness it invalidates all the joy and it’s impossible for those two emotions to live side-by-side. For me, that’s simply not true. I feel intense joy that I’m here in this moment with my children. I feel wonderful that I can hear the ocean when I walk on the beach at night, that the stars shine so brightly overhead. I love lazing around with them and doing whatever we want, whether its going for night time swims or playing Guitar Hero in an arcade.

At the same time, I feel sadness it’s just me that’s here with them. I feel lonely. If I allow myself to slip out of the present moment, I feel regrets about the past and worry for the future. I feel a desire to not go back to my “real” life, which has seemed to involve a lot of stress. I intensely want a partner at some moments and feel unhappy I haven’ met someone I want around long term. Then at other moments I wonder if I really want to give up my freedom. I can recognize that being here alone with my children creates some loneliness. I can also realize a partner might not want to play Guitar Hero in an arcade, go for night time swims and then drink hot chocolate, or do any of the other things we think are great. I realize a relationship would mean conforming to another person’s agenda and desires. Right now, neither being completely alone or being in a marriage or partnership, with all that entails, sounds quite right. Still, I’d like to try starting things off with someone wonderful and see where it goes!

So…sadness and joy. Perhaps living betwixt them is the work I’m learning to do. Mindfulness. Being present. The recognition that feelings are just feelings and come and go.

For tonight, I’ll stand outside and look at the waves and listen to that rhythm that calls to my soul. I’ll check on my sleeping children one last time before I go to bed. Then I’ll wake and see what the day brings us. I’m sure for at least one more day, it will bring us sun, sand, water, giggles, some sibling fights and seafood. I’m going to try to not worry about what tomorrow brings. I’ll face that tomorrow.

The Ebb and Flow of Feelings

Posted in anxiety, depression, Parenting, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement on March 5, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, just a few weeks ago I posted this wonderful blog about how much better I’ve been doing and how many moments of pure joy I’ve experienced lately. I even waxed poetic…something about stringing together the moments of joy into a necklace to light my way into dark days. Or some nonsense like that.

I wish my necklace had a few more moments on it.

I am trying to keep in mind that life and emotions are an ebb and flow and it’s easy to get trapped into thinking “I feel like shit today, so my life must be shit”. Or thinking that things are so wonderful and beautiful we’re surprised when things change on what feels like  a whim. Life, and feelings, are so fluid and transitory. But boy, it sure doesn’t feel that way when the dark times hit.

The last two weeks have been a big, steaming pile of crap. There was crap before, but I was managing to handle it. The extra crap, on top of the normal crap, is starting to wear me down.

My ceiling still has a hole in it, although at least an insurance adjuster is finally going to come and see if I can get it fixed ($750 deductible out of pocket). My car has to go in for work ($1027 out of pocket). I’m now sleeping, hopefully very temporarily, in my children’s bedroom in a family bed. Every night. I love them, but it’s starting to get to me. I’m cold all the time and I’ve almost lost all motivation to live except for in front of my heater or under a blanket. The realization (prompted by my father) that I hadn’t changed my furnace filter in years may, hopefully, lead to a warmer house. I had a horrific stomach bug for a week, yet had to drag myself to work because of drama. I’ve had ongoing drama with THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED and it has really started to get old and wear on my spirit. I decided to get brave and ask someone out with whom there was a flirtation, only to be told that he had a “reputation” he had to uphold during his pending divorce and that he probably couldn’t be seen around town with me, but since I was cute he’d totally be up for a “make-out session” at his house. Hmmm…I think that only works if I hate myself. Since I don’t, I declined. I wondered if he might be a douchebag before I asked him out for a drink, but I didn’t expect such complete confirmation so quickly. My children have been at each other’s throats and my parenting has felt like it mainly consists of mediation lately. My workouts the last two weeks have been almost nonexistent and yesterday, when I worked out, I thought I might die. Today I’m so sore I can barely move.

And rolling around it all is the anger that is still percolating about my blog and the invasion that happened. I’ve had a lot of thoughts around ethics and what responsibility a writer has when discussing another person, even one whom they don’t specifically name. I’ll probably get around to that at a future date.  Yet I’m very much feeling like my blog is tainted, much as I did when D informed me he’d been reading it. Again, I can’t stop people from reading if I choose to publish it on the internet. But the strong feeling of ickiness and violation is persisting. I’ve had a promise the blog will never again be read by THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED, but I heard that just last week and had it proven to me very quickly it wasn’t true.

So, I’m trying to take some deep breaths and remember these emotions are transitory. Life could change within a few minutes. Breathe through the bad times and don’t get too comfortable in the great times. Change is inevitable and I have to look for the beauty in every moment and accept it when things suck. Life isn’t out to get me, it’s just the journey.

Breathing in, breathing out…trying to be mindful and in the present moment. Crying when I need to cry and laughing when I need to laugh. Waiting for the sunshine and warmth to return and lend some cheer to what has felt like the long, hard winter. Only a few weeks until spring…

 

I Am My Own Valentine (And It’s Pretty Frickin’ Awesome)

Posted in Dating, depression, love, self-esteem, self-improvement, Valentine's Day with tags , , , , on February 14, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Valentine’s Day.

The day in which couples feel pressured to prove their love with chocolate, flowers, lingerie and any number of trinkets and material goods. The holiday that makes singles cringe in shame that they have failed to secure someone who will buy them a Hallmark card and a box of truffles.

I’ve always thought Valentine’s Day was kind of sweet and kind of ridiculous. Traditionally, I get my children cards, chocolates and a stuffed animal and they give me small, homemade gifts. I’ve received Valentines from two people in my entire life, one being my ex-husband and one was a man I dated for 10 weeks who ended up stalking me for 4 months after I ended things. With everyone else…either we opted to not celebrate it, the timing was off, or we broke up before the holiday arrived. The last two years I was, each time, recovering from deep heartbreak (which is what happens when you’re stupid enough to get back together with someone repeatedly, after they’ve shown they can’t be trusted with your heart). And…I was sad. I let myself feel rejected and unloved and unworthy. I cried and moped and sunk further into the depression I was in.

This year, I decided to fully embrace the day and all that it is supposed to represent. I’m done with feeling like I’ve somehow failed or am inferior to those who’ve managed to stay coupled, just because I haven’t met someone who really rocks my world for longer than a few months or a year. I’m through with thinking the relationships that didn’t work out, the men who had too much baggage to love,  or those who didn’t love me enough to even treat me with respect and courtesy are about my failings as a human being. I’m far from perfect, but I am a shining, beautiful, worthy woman. I believe one day I will meet a kind, strong man who will be brave enough to love, healthy enough to be with me, who will be thrilled to have me by his side. If somehow that man and I never cross paths, I will STILL be that shining, beautiful worthy woman.

So today I haven’t shied away from love or talk of love. Why should I? Love is a beautiful experience and I’ve had it, lost it and look forward to finding it again. I booked myself a massage and enjoyed the sensuous pleasure of having someone touch me with warm, strong hands. I bought a drink at a coffee shop and browsed row upon row of books. I bought flowers; bright, happy flowers in shades of spring and sun and some beautiful, lacy underwear and perfume in my favorite fragrance. I’ve got a bath bomb that will release essential oils and flower petals into my hot bath later, during which I will enjoy a new novel and a glass of red wine. Afterwards I will get out, smelling and feeling delicious, and make a chocolate soufflé for one and settle in for a romantic comedy. I’ve got a playlist of love songs in the background. I may cry at some point, because the rich surfeit of my emotions sometimes spills over into tears. And that’s okay too. Crying is healthy and cleansing and sometimes is about feelings things very strongly, rather than just about feeling sad.

I am my own Valentine and while I love loving someone else, there’s something pretty awesome about loving myself.

Gun-shy

Posted in Dating, depression, online dating, Relationships, self-improvement with tags , on February 11, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I find myself in a curious place.

I’m not in a lonely, sobbing little heap anymore. I still have plenty of times when I’m blue or lonely, but I no longer feel my life is a downward spiral of hopeless unhappiness. I have many days when I am joyful and have worked really hard the last few months to expand my circles and lift myself up out of depression. My life isn’t perfect, but it feels a hell of a lot better than it did a year ago. And…I’m very single. Don’t get me wrong, there is a person that I’ve dated very casually for the last couple of months. It’s not going anywhere and at one point, I thought it was completely over, then he popped back up.  I don’t love him, he doesn’t love me and we have a good time.

Still, I dream of something more with someone.

And for the first time in my life, I’m scared of attempting it.

I mean, there have been times when I’ve been hurt badly enough I’ve been afraid of “getting back out there”. Yet the fear of being alone was stronger, so I always plunged back into dating pretty quickly. This time, I feel mostly okay for the first time in quite awhile. It’s a lot better than not okay, which is where I was for many months. The pitfalls of dating seem perilous and leave me …reluctant. I find myself putting off getting back into the dating scene. I’m not hiding from it, but I’m making very little effort to embrace it.

Yet I also know there comes a point where fear can be paralyzing.

I’m left trying to assess what is a healthy balance of being okay on my own and what is making excuses to avoid something that, ultimately, I really want. A real relationship, with someone who’s emotionally healthy and mature enough to handle it. Someone to walk hand in hand with, share the triumphs and hardships of the day with, to curl around at night. Because while I have affection for the casual dating partner and enjoy his company most times we’re together, he doesn’t move me. There’s always a level of emptiness in the pit of my stomach when I drive home.

At what point does being afraid to date turn into a problem that’s just as serious as being afraid to not date?

What A Difference A Year Makes

Posted in Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, women's liberation with tags , , , on February 3, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

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.