For the last couple years now I feel like I’ve been walking through life without any real plan or understanding of where I was or what I was doing. Sure, I went through the daily activities out of sheer necessity but, I think the only thing that kept me from turning into a lethargic slug staring at the walls on some days was my family. They pushed me to get up and do things daily, even if it was the bare minimum. That feeling of just existing without any real purpose to life permeated everything. I didn’t know how to process everything that had happened. I was angry, depressed, afraid, and I felt very guilty. The first three I could understand as a type of grieving process but the guilt really perplexed me more than anything.
The truth is that at some point in my married life, I ceased to be the optimist. It didn’t happen overnight. Before I married him I was a very happy and “go-with-the-flow” sort of person. I laughed, made friends easily, smiled often, and despite all the turmoil and uncertainty in my single life at the time, I was pretty sure that I had the necessary mental tools to do things on my own. In fact, I was excited about life. Publishing my fiction was something that I was devoting more time to. I was painting and creating art in various forms. My efforts were even starting to get some notice and I was actually stoked about life. In six years time, all of that changed.
I recognize now that his leaving me for “her” was a gift from God and the universe. I’d really lost myself in being his wife. The dreamer, the artist, the confident woman that I had been for most of my life had gone into hiding. The scary part was that I didn’t know how to coax her back out. For a long time, I didn’t think that I was worth the effort.
Fast forward to now. It has become a challenge to find myself. To come out of that isolation and find the joy again. I do laugh more. I feel lighter – probably because I’ve dropped about 100 lbs since then. I don’t feel so oppressed and I’m not barraged with negative energy anymore. I am working and have a steady income. I’m pursuing the artistic life again and trying to get in touch with the stronger woman that I was. I am attempting to explore passions that I once held dear. I am myself again and finding out what it means for me to be truly happy.
That idea of happiness has changed considerably from all those years ago. Some realizations had to happen for me. For example, I’m not going to have kids or a family in the way that I wanted. Accepting that, it becomes about building the life that I want for myself and being a little bit selfish in the process. Accepting myself as I am and deciding what to invest my time and energy into isn’t easy. The possibilities are vast. In fact, it is far easier for me to say what I don’t want to invest in.
This year I’ve chosen to invest in myself. I am finding the joy in being my own best friend while finding friendships outside of me. I’m branching out and exploring life again. Let me just say that it is exciting to be able to do that again. To know that I can create the life I want and I get to make the choices to change life into something awesome and fulfilling again is amazing. It is empowering when I see certain elements taking shape. It is also very scary to think about the risks you have to take in order to move forward in various areas of life without any guarantee of a good outcome.
I follow a particular author’s blog who talks extensively about self-esteem issues. She created a workbook as a giveaway this holiday season that challenged people to choose a word for the year and create goals based on that. I went through the workbook. Every word that I had brainstormed revolved around change, acceptance, and progress. Breaking out of the shell that I’d put around me to heal is the running theme in all the journal work I’ve done. For me, that means being brave enough to take those steps outside of my comfort zone. To stretch my personal boundaries and take some risks. For me, that can be as simple as going to a group event with people that I don’t know. It can also be a big thing like going back to school and starting a new career path.
The key for me is to remember that I cannot make different choices about the past. What I can do is make better choices going forward. I can choose to be brave and forge ahead to achieve my dreams. I can choose to be cautious with who I let into my inner circle just as much as I can choose to be friendly and have many acquaintances in life. I don’t know all of the choices and decisions that I will have to make this year. There is no way to plan for everything. I just have to be brave enough to trust my instincts and myself again.