On my birthday last year, I remember being at home alone, sitting in the dark on my brand new pink couch in my brand new house, and crying. It was not the way I had envisioned starting out the 36th year of my life, alone and grieving the loss of my 10-year marriage that had been ripped apart by my partner’s sex addiction, and crippled by a head injury that I suffered from a horrible head-on collision on my way to the gym 4 months earlier. Nothing in my life was the way I thought or dreamed it would be. In fact, it felt like everything I had worked for, and invested in, and believed in had been taken away from me. And there I was, turning 36, in the middle of starting my life completely over again.
I shared this post with you guys on that day last year, talking about the things I had learned walking through the most difficult season of my life, and how I survived. But as I wrote those words, what I didn’t fully anticipate, was not only how incredibly hard, but how incredibly wonderful the upcoming year was going to be. And as I sit here today looking back, there is so much I am thankful for. It has been a year full of so much growth, but also one filled with immeasurable sorrow. There were times when I felt like the old me again, and times when I didn’t recognize myself at all. The tears were plenty, but so were laughter and joy. Adventure and travel started to find their ways back into my life, but I often found myself wanting to be alone more than I ever had before. My friendships continued to grow steadfast and deep, but I also learned it was ok to keep my inner circle small. I experienced times where I’ve never felt so loved, and also times where I couldn’t fathom feeling any more alone. There were days it felt too hard to face the world, and days I knew I was going to be ok. I grew braver, and stronger, and more compassionate, but also felt myself turn inward at times, becoming more introverted, quiet and shy. But through it all, as I’ve picked up the pieces and kept moving forward, one thing is and has remained good and constant in my life, and that is God.
And so, in typical birthday blog-post fashion, I wanted to take some time to reflect, and share with you guys the things I’ve learned this past year, as I continue to figure out how to navigate this big, beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking life, and what I’m looking forward to as I embark on year 37:
1. The world will break us all at some point, but how we come out on the other side is our choice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt completely defeated by the events of the last couple of years. It’s definitely felt easier at times to the let the bitterness and sadness win. But I made a choice and a promise to myself early on, that I was going to fight for me and fight for happiness. And while sometimes it’s a lot of work, it’s still a choice I’m making every single day. The fight for ourselves is worth it. YOU are worth it.
2. Grief is a process, and it’s different for everyone. We place a lot of expectations in our society around how things “should” be, including grief and loss. But I’ve learned there isn’t a standard way to walk through loss. My brother has a lyric in one of his songs that says: “grief is like a storm; the power comes in waves.” And in my grief, these words often echo in my head. Sometimes I feel so happy, and then before I realize what’s happening, I’m back in the thick of things. And it’s definitely been a process to find patience and grace for myself as I learn to navigate what grief and healing look like for me.
3. Surround yourself with people who will truly do life with you. I am so fortunate to not only have an amazingly supportive family, but also incredible friends who are my “framily”. They aren’t afraid of my grief process, they love me through the hurt, they understand when I need to be alone, they see the good in me when I can’t, they celebrate break through, they fight for me, and they cheer me on every step of the way. I’ve never experienced friendship on this level before, and I am so very grateful for and humbled by the love, and work, and vulnerability we all pour into one another. They have been the game changers in my life these last couple of years and I am forever grateful.
4. If life doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, you can still find happiness. This has been one of the most challenging and important lessons for me in all of this. While my life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would right now, it is still filled with so much goodness. From family, to rich friendships, to opportunities and experiences I’ve opened myself up to this year, a successful career, a beautiful home, etc. I am so very fortunate. And truth be told, I wouldn’t have a lot of the amazing things I have in my life right now, if I hadn’t experienced the trials. God will make beauty from ashes, if we let Him. I can promise you that. (Genesis 50:20)
5. Trust in God’s plan for your life. When I look back at the trajectory of my life, the plans that were laid, the timing, the pieces that have fallen into place, I can’t help but to trust what God is doing. And while getting from point A to point B might not be the way I envisioned it to be, I am trusting in God’s purpose, surrendering to His plan for me, and valuing the lessons I am learning along the way. And I can tell you, that makes the day to day a lot easier to get through, resting in that trust. (Isaiah 26:3)
6. Dream BIG. If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that my word for the year is “dream”. When I began the process of rebuilding my life last year, I had been in survival mode for so long, that it felt scary and impossible to hope and dream for anything. But not having hopes and dreams left me feeling such a huge void, because those things have always been such a big part of who I am. So as I kick off this year, I am working on letting myself hope and dream for the future, not being afraid to ask God for the things I want, and being ok if those hopes and dreams don’t necessarily work out the way I want them to. A lot can change and happen in a year, so here’s to 37 and everything that it will bring!! (Jeremiah 29:11)
I also just wanted to say thank you guys so much for stopping by the blog today. I know it’s been a long time since I shared any content here. As you can probably tell from this post, it’s been a busy year for me. But it feels good to be back in this space, and I am actually planning on relaunching my blog in the near future (it’s all part of that hoping and dreaming thing). So definitely stay tuned for more details. But in the meantime, THANK YOU. TRULY. You all have been such an incredible support to me these last couple of years and I will be forever grateful to each and every single one of you for the continued love and encouragement.