Between 2009 and 2019, I had two marriages, one divorce, and three groups that I considered family with whom my ties were cut forever. I owned three Toyotas and totaled one of them. I purchased one used car and one new car. I embarked on four new jobs and ended one career. I moved ten times and lived in four different states. It was exhausting.
The period between 2012 and 2014 were some of the darkest days of my life. I lost one family that I married into, and two groups of friends/colleagues that I was too ashamed to speak to during the divorce and its aftermath. It was awful and I really hated myself. I took the ending of those friendships as a sign that I didn’t deserve friends, and I retreated into myself.
Toward the end of 2014 I began to get my shit together. Between 2014 and 2016 I put the work in. There was daily progress but it was more of a slow trudge than a rapid ascent. One step up and two steps back, as Springsteen says. Now here I am, facing down the start of another new year.
What’s challenging about assessing our lives based on the calendar is that time is such a weird construct. When I think of how time passes it doesn’t reflect the changes in my mindset. They’re just days, they’re just minutes and months. I didn’t know myself at all in 2010 — I hadn’t identified what I needed in a relationship or in a job or even in how I perceived my identity. The person I was in 2010 is drastically different than the woman I am now. In 2010 I wasn’t willing to examine myself. I wanted to make enough noise to drown out the demons instead of looking deeper inside to see what all the yelling was about.
I don’t have goals for the year or for the decade. Instead, I want to continue finding and amplifying the best version of myself. I don’t put up with the same things that I used to — from other people or from myself. It’s cliche to say I learned to put myself first, but health concerns from celiac disease to IBS and anxiety have made me slow down, focus, pay attention to what I allow to enter my mind and body. I look at my existence as an airfield, where I have to give permission for the space around me to be breached.
Isn’t that the most beautiful part of life? We can make those choices. We can say yes or no. If I hadn’t gotten married in 2009, I don’t think my life would have given me the same choices that eventually lead me to Matt once I was ready to meet him in 2016. Life is incredible. Here’s to more of it.