I have to be honest, it felt a little clunky logging back into my blog and trying to remember how to write a post, let alone upload photos. Blogging used to be something so second nature to me, a part of my weekly routine. But then life happened, a devastating divorce, a TBI from a horrendous car accident, a long recovery from both, two moves, job changes, a pandemic, and I guess the blog just took a back seat to all of that. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I’ve sat down and written here. But it does feel good to be back and I will forever be thankful for this little space on the internet.
If you’re new here, for the last several years (with the exception of last year), I have written a blog post every year on my birthday sharing what I’ve learned as I’ve walked through and healed from heartbreak and trauma. I initially started sharing because I didn’t think I could survive what had happened in my life, it was just so imaginable. But through the grace of God, a lot of hard work, an amazing therapist, and incredible friends and family, I did survive what I thought had broken me beyond repair. So I wanted to share what helped me not only survive, but thrive, with the hope that it might help someone else out there too. And goodness the response over the years has been incredible. The relationships we’ve built, the stories we’ve shared, the tears and triumphs, it’s all been so humbling and beautiful. So here I am, on my 41st birthday, after another harrowing year, trying to put into words how I made it through, again in the hopes that it might resonate with someone out there reading these words. So here we go!
- Sometimes bad things just happen and there isn’t always a reason or explanation. I’ve been doing a lot of unlearning and relearning these last few years. And I think the saying “everything happens for a reason” is a toxic message we throw around to kind of slap a Band-Aid on things, or a way to try and make the heavy stuff a little less heavy. It’s actually something I have recently been trying to stop myself from saying to other people when they are going through a hardship, and something I’m trying to unlearn myself. With everything that’s happened in my life the last few years, I can’t tell you how long I’ve spent searching for, or trying to reconcile the “reason” for it all. Especially this last year when I found myself in a similar scenario to my marriage. Sex addiction, betrayal, infidelity, they were all there again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God “why?” the last few months. Pleaded and begged for a reason. And honestly, I have come to the conclusion that God didn’t put me in that scenario to teach me some big lesson, or for any particular reason at all. The things that happened were the choices of another person. And the burden of that is not on God to give me a reason, or on myself to figure one out. Because the truth of the matter is, He delivered me from a horrible situation. A situation far worse than I even knew at the time. He was my rescue from the lion’s den and as hard as this last year has been, I am forever grateful for that protection.
- Trust yourself, and trust your gut. This is one I’ve shared before, and something that has been hugely impactful in my life. Call it intuition, call it the Holy Spirit, but listening to those gut feelings can save your life. Truly. I remember reading somewhere a while back that “gut feelings are guardian angels” and I absolutely know that be true. When I was married, I would have this crazy anxiety that I couldn’t place. I knew something was horribly wrong, but I didn’t have any proof or even know what to look for. Just feelings. So I ignored them, and explained away the anxiousness. When the truth was finally exposed (as it eventually always is), all of those terrible feelings and fears I had had for so many years all suddenly made perfect sense. And it’s something my therapist and I have really worked hard on these last few years. Trusting and being in tune with yourself is so important. And I learned that lesson again this last year. I had started experiencing nightmares and those familiar anxious feelings again in my relationship. I couldn’t put a finger on it. Things were so seemingly perfect. But something also wasn’t feeling right, I just didn’t know yet what it was. So I trusted myself and I started doing a little more research and what I discovered was beyond shocking. Nothing was what it seemed. I had been sold on a lie from day one. Manipulated by my past. And as painful as the fall out has been, I am forever thankful I trusted myself and my gut feelings and got out.
- Spiritual Trauma is not God, it’s people. I have seen so many people walk away from the church these last couple of years due in part to spiritual trauma. I myself have walked through my own spiritual trauma, losing the church I loved in Salt Lake in a pretty terrible way, being spiritually manipulated in my last relationship, and then being betrayed by someone who was a dear friend and spiritual mentor. The hypocrisy has been astounding. And the hurt it caused during an already devastating time in my life has been almost unbearable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to turn away from God because of all of it. But I’ve come to realize that none of those things were from God. And I guess it kind of circles back to my first point, sometimes bad things happen and sometimes people are just bad. I also think good people can sometimes do bad things. But again, through it all, God protected me in every scenario. He was the constant. Never wavering. So if you are someone who has walked away from God or the church because of spiritual trauma, I would encourage you to remember that those things that hurt you were people. And while I know it’s easier said than done, do not let people or the messy imperfections of humanity negatively impact your relationship with God. That relationship is between you and Him. And I’ve found myself, that as I’ve removed the people and the institution from my relationship with God, I’ve been able to go even deeper with Him.
- God is always good, even when life is not. This is a hard one for me and something I’ve been really working to fully reconcile in my heart. It’s easy to trust God and believe He is good when life is good. When things are going your way, when life is turning out the way you planned. It can be a little harder to trust Him and His goodness when the wheels fall of and the hard things happen. Especially when it feels like you just can’t catch a break. But we live in a fallen world. Bad things will always happen. Life won’t always turn out the way we hope and dream of. It’s been a heartbreak for me not to have a partner and children. And it likely will always be a grief that I carry in my heart. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t good. And it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love me. He might not be able to fix everything, but He can certainly carry us through the storm, give us a safe place to land, and forever be our rear guard. Isaiah 58:8
- Joy and sorrow can exist beautifully in the same space. I used to have such a black and white view of the world. Go to college, marry your college sweetheart, start a career you love, have a family. Be happy. And goodness, my life could not be further from any of that. I think I also thought when you were happy, you were happy, and when you were sad, you were sad. But life is complicated, as are our emotions. And I think I’ve found this past year that I’ve had some of my deepest joy and happiest experiences, during some of the most devastating and heartbreaking times in my life. But it takes work to get there. I’ve had to learn not to be afraid of my feelings, to allow myself to feel them, the whole range, to sit in them when I need to, and persevere through them when I can. To laugh through the tears, and allow myself to fight for happiness even when things feel impossible. I think the older I’ve gotten, and the more life experience I’ve had, I’ve come to realize I’m very rarely all happy or all sad. And that my friends is life I think, the good the bad and all the messiness that lies in between.
- What’s done in the darkness will always be brought to light. Sometimes when I look at the world, or my own life, it’s hard not to despair when I think of the the darkness. But then I am always reminded that no matter the circumstance, light will always outshine the dark, and what’s done in darkness will always be revealed by the light. I have experienced this time and time again myself, and have witnessed it in the lives of other as well. So if you are finding yourself in a season of darkness, do not despair. Remember that even the smallest ember of light can ignite a fire. You will never be left in the darkness, nor will darkness overcome the light of the world. The light of goodness will always prevail, and your light has an important place in the world, so fear not, and let that light of yours shine!
- You are not your trauma or your heartbreak, but rather they are a part of you and your story. I remember when I first came home from Oklahoma after calling off my engagement, I asked my mom if I would be sad forever, and if I was destined to have a sad life. It makes me teary thinking of how that felt. The sadness was so suffocating, I wasn’t sure it would ever go away. But a year later, even though I think my life will always have an undercurrent of sadness for the things that have happened, I can say with certainty that I am a deeply happy person. I’ve really fought to not let the hard things harden or define me, but rather refine and make me a better person, soften me. I don’t always get it right, but I try my best. Everyday I want to be kinder, more empathetic, stronger, better. It’s a choice and a fight to rise up and not let myself drown in an ocean of sorrow, because honestly, sometimes it feels like that would be easier. But what kind of life would that be? Not the kind of life I want to experience. Not the kind of life anyone wants to experience. So for me the fight is worth it. And I refuse to let these last few years be anything other than a chapter or two in the beautiful story of my life.
- You never know what is just around the corner. Good or bad. Wonderful or heartbreaking. We really never know what’s coming. I shared on my IG stories how I was so happy on the eve of my 40th birthday last year. Dancing on a rooftop with two of my best friends, laughing the night away. I had no idea what was about come to light or what would happen in the following months. But I also had no idea where I would be today either, on my 41st birthday. And here I sit, back on my blog sharing my life, deeply happy, a new career that feels like it was made for me, the best friends (lots of new friends too!) and family a girl could EVER ask for, and so much richness in my life both relationally and experientially. I truly have more than any one person deserves. And because we have no idea what’s next, it makes me want to work harder to be fully present in my life, not just let it pass me by. Enjoy the here and now. Be grateful for every moment I’m in. Give thanks for the blessings I have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but we always have the promise of today. And I want to be the type of person who makes every single today matter.
So with that, cheers to forty-onederful! I am so relieved to put the last year behind me and embark on all of the hope and promise that this new year is sure to bring. And even though my optimism is cautious (and rightfully so!), it’s there and it cannot be suppressed. If you follow me on Instagram, then you might remember that my word for the year is RISE. One of my best friends gave that word to me and it couldn’t be more fitting for where my heart and my life are. So here’s to a new year and rising like a phoenix up from the ashes.
Thank you all so much for being here and for your support. I can’t tell you how much each and every single of you mean to me. Love you all BIG.