I’m dubbing 2015 the worst year of my ever-loving life. It’s been dubbed, knighted, crowned, awarded, acknowledged and left behind. It’s also the year that I experienced the most personal growth.....ever. Funny how that happens.
After a year of separation, my divorce was made final in March of 2015. Like any levelheaded newly divorced single lady, I jumped into the dating scene with both feet. Partly because I felt ready to get out there and see what I’d been missing for the past 11 years and mostly because I needed a distraction so I didn’t have to actually feel the heartache that comes from losing everything you are and everything you ever believed you were, or would be, in what feels like an instant.
Even though the breakdown of my marriage happened over the course of many years, it felt like it was gone—in an instant. And before I even knew it (or better yet, was willing to acknowledge it) it was too late. Too late to try. Too late to change. Too late to make it better. It took a long time for it to be gone....in an instant. Almost a year later I still ask myself if I will ever recover fully from the loss; from the failure to acknowledge the demise along the way, the failure to make it work. But, I digress.
I can thank Tinder for the amazing, hysterical, somewhat traumatic, eye opening introduction to Dating101 in 2015. And let me tell you, these ain’t your Grandma’s dating stories. In fact, I’m not sure my grandma’s sweet little heart could handle the Tinder happenings in the world today. And while my dating experience deserves a whole post dedicated to just that, for the sake of time and discretion, let's just say I learned A LOT. Yeah, Tinder was a circus.
After a couple of short lived relationships, I decided that maybe I had jumped into dating a little prematurely. I wasn’t ready. At all. I still hadn't dealt with anything from my actual divorce. I could have won awards for how neatly I packed away the emotions that I didn’t want to feel regarding the end of my life as a wife to the guy I was supposed to be married to for time and all eternity. I hadn’t allowed myself to face and feel the despair that comes from the unraveling of the little family I had dedicated my adult life to growing and loving. I conveniently skipped over that part of The Big D.
It didn’t take long for everything to come crashing down in my little pretend I’m okay so I’m going to date world. You can only run away from trauma and emotions for so long before it all starts to catch up to you. And even the most amicable of divorces equals trauma. Eventually, the trauma starts to gnaw, pull, poke, prod, until it’s almost impossible to ignore it anymore. At that point, one has two choices. One can continue on their crooked little path of I’m all good and waste precious energy finding distractions to resist the gnawings OR one can bear down and face them.
I decided to face them. Head on, in all my fear of emotions/how the hell am I going to get through this glory. I finally allowed myself to give in and just feel. I gave myself permission to sit in the darkness with the heartache and let it flow through my being and penetrate my soul without trying to stop it or distract myself from it. I gave myself the time that I deserved to come to terms with everything that I had lost when I signed my name to that insipid piece of paper that canceled out the last 11 years of my life and broke apart my little family.
To say it was painful is an understatement.
At the time, I was also dealing with physical pain. Up to that point, my physical pain had far outweighed my emotional hurt. But, once I opened those floodgates and my emotions started flowing, it was the most painful thing I had ever endured.
It’s difficult to express in words the feelings of loss, failure, shame, unworthiness, despair, heartbreak, regret, and so on and so forth that comes with divorce. It was dark, it was ugly, and I questioned my ability to get through it. My entire world felt like it had fallen apart. And, I had no idea how to put it back together again.
As my emotional healing progressed, I found that once I was able to process one trauma—one emotion—one thought pattern that took me in circles, another one popped up in its place and I had to begin again—the process of letting go.
Letting go is an art. It's an art that I have learned takes practice, perseverance, complete awareness, and endurance on one's part. When we fail to let go of the way we think things were supposed to go and keep allowing ourselves to meander down a path of negativity, shame, guilt, hurt, anger, etc... it puts us in victim mode, and nothing productive comes from being a victim. I got damn good at being the victim.
Eventually, I got sick of feeling so unhappy. I started to find things I could do that made me feel uplifted and content. I got out of my house, even when it felt like my spine was going to explode from pain. I went to movies and restaurants by myself. I embraced solitude in all its splendidness and learned to love having time to do what I wanted to do. By myself. Alone.
I also surrounded myself with amazing, inspiring women who had been down the same road I was traveling. I gained such an appreciation for learning from other's stories; from listening to strong women who have been where I've been and know what it's like. Many parts of me have healed through telling my own story, being vulnerable, and relying on others to help when I need help.
The thing is, no matter how much healing happens - how much progress I make, there will always be something else to heal—to change—to make better. When I choose to recognize and acknowledge my faults/weaknesses/thoughts/ emotions/patterns that aren't serving me, it's impossible NOT to MOVE FORWARD, even when it feels like I am being held back.
There is something very powerful that happens when we accept those parts of us that aren't perfect and we show ourselves patience, love, and compassion and give ourselves the time to work it all out. And it is through that healing process that we come to know who we are at our core and gain the strength needed to live as that being.
So, while 2015 was awarded Worst Year Ever I don't regret a single thing that happened. I am who I am because of what I have been through. And as I travel along this healing journey, I will continue to be who I am, until I become who I am meant to be.