The last year and a half challenged every aspect of life for me. Everything I thought I knew changed. I’ve always seen myself as a happy, motivated, loving and beautiful person. I don’t say any of those things with ego; I simply mean that I worked hard and loved myself for the woman I was. I went from being married with two kids, having a full-time career in the IT field, volunteered, crafted, etc. Everything changed when my marriage ended, and struggles began with learning how to co-parent and be friends with my ex-husband. It wasn’t graceful, it wasn’t pretty and we spent several months stumbling as we tried to figure it out.
In the beginning 2017 we finally began climbing the cordial/friendship mountain. We finally began to have productive, nice and friendly interactions with each other. I felt hopeful for our friendship and our ability to work together for our kiddos. That first week in April I brought him to the airport, so he could go on vacation. A few days later he had a fatal accident. I was in disbelief when I got the call as we had just started settling into life with our new relationship as friends and letting go of the negative emotions we felt for each other.
Through the countless challenges his passing left me, one saying kept crossing my mind: ‘Life is too short to not be happy’. I’ve been dwelling on that thought thinking of how I’ve gone through these struggles and how I’ve allowed them to knock me down. For a year and a half it was one massive life change after the next. The next uncomfortable change came before I could wrap my head around the last and it turned into a downward spiral for me. I wasn’t happy and in all of my loss I couldn’t force myself to snap out of it, even though I had so many reminders of how little time I could possibly have left on Earth. Each moment could be the last I have to laugh with my kiddos, make memories with loved ones or simply be surrounded by all the blessing I’ve been given.
Emotionally I was so spent I honestly couldn’t even understand the feelings I was having. There were so many feelings that spanned the entire emotional spectrum that I felt like a dark hole, consumed and overwhelmed by the enormity of the feels. I began to not have trust in myself (or anyone else), my confidence became almost non-existent and I was floating through my days. I kept thinking “I cannot wait to get back to the ‘old me’, the me I loved. She would be handling these struggles better than I am”.
I had people tell me they were concerned and that they questioned changes they saw in me. These comments triggered a little bit of a salty internal response at first, but I finally began to understand… It has taken me the better part of a year to realize that I will never be the same person I used to be. We are all constantly in state of change and that happens simply based off the environment you dwell.
Something as ordinary as meeting new people with different upbringings and backgrounds opens your mind and changes your inner self (whether we realize it or not). Change in and of itself is inevitable and is honestly an amazing process. The more change we experience, the more we grow. (If it’s not too much to ask: I’d like a short pause in the change department.. hopefully the change-Gods are reading this) We all handle change differently and when we are hit with some hurtful truths it’s okay to take the time to understand how it has affected the person you are and who you’ll be after. My advice would be to never allow anyone to make you feel bad about yourself during times of difficult change. The next time you’re told ‘You’ve changed’ and appropriate response would be ‘of course I have’.
If I had to describe how I’ve felt during this time of immense change, I would say it’s like I’ve been in a trance looking up at my life swirling around me, hoping to grab onto one piece of it that felt comfortable or familiar. It all seemed to be swirling so quickly I couldn’t grab onto anything. Thankfully, I finally realized that I took the wrong approach. I so badly wanted to hold onto the old me that I didn’t realize I should have grieved her along with the rest the losses I experienced.
I’m currently learning who I am again. My basic core values are the same, but there is not one aspect in life that I view the same. Family, religion, parenting, friends, romantic relationships, careers, personal style, confidence, motivation… it’s not the same. Not only is none of that the same, but I also haven’t figured out where I stand on all of it. Not fully knowing who I am in this period of my life has been a huge struggle, but accepting that the old me has passed is a great way to begin 2018.
I hope anyone who has experienced loss grants themselves permission and the space to find out who they are now. Take the time to listen. Process and grow from all the experiences in the past and the people you currently surround yourself with. It’s okay to feel like you need to ponder your feelings on certain topics longer than the old you would have needed to. The old you is gone and now it’s time to rebuild. You are on the path to blossoming into a wiser, stronger and more courageous you than you ever imagined.
Day after day I have failed trying to pretend like I would just jump back into being the old me if I tried hard enough. Today, I continue to fail, but this time I’m failing forward as I try to love this journey of getting to know the new me. I’m trying to embrace it, while also trying to let go of worrying about relationships I might lose if the new me doesn’t fit the mold the relationship once had or is expected to be. I’m struggling with both of those; I don’t want to feel anymore loss or hurt, but I will continue to fight those battles until I have found the vibrant, wonderful woman I know I’ll be.
In all of my losses I have and will continue to gain many blessings. In that process I will let go of the guilt that often comes with gaining during loss. I will work hard to let go of this guilt because one thing I’m sure of is that we all deserve to make the most of our short time here together.
Cheers to a beautiful 2018 filled with gratitude, happiness and LOVE.