“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been open for us.” -Helen Keller, We Bereaved, 1929
This is the first full week in almost a year that I felt like myself. Mostly, I have my personality back and my wit. I have accepted the place where I am in my life and embrace the rest button that has been unwillingly pressed for me. A clean slate and a newly found bottle of confidence anticipate the unveiling of the upgraded version of me. What this improved version of me will that look like, I don’t know yet. I have yet to put the keys in the ignition and set course for a test drive. I am not sure what my future will bring but I am ready to dance with the flow of life and let it be my guide to my own personal growth.
I see myself through very different eyes; my vision is no longer clouded with past pain and loss, and in the moment, my feelings harbor neutrality toward my ex. This feels more comfortable than the anger and resentment for what I have been through. It could change, but this week has been a good one for experiencing stability rather than the feeling like I am standing up to my nose in mud, barely breathing above its surface. I am still in the mud, but its weight has less power over me—it only has the power I give it, and it cannot control me. Over the last year, I have succumbed to my weaknesses, and I have embraced my strengths to discern the changes I needed to make in order to explore new options. I am thinking about the course of action that I will take along this journey. It will take time and patience. I have time. Patience and I have never had an alliance.
My good friend, Jamie, introduced me to the Finnish word “sisu.” Loosely translated, it means determination, bravery, guts, resilience, perseverance and hardiness. She gave me a bandana that had this word sown on it before my 100-mile race two years ago. She said it was a word that reminded her of me. Now looking back, that is what I want and see for my future–to be determined, brave and persevere challenges as they come. I am now able to move forward in life with a positive outlook, building new foundations of trust and acceptance for what is and finalizing the last chapters of this phase of my life. It doesn’t mean it will be easy moving forward or that it will magically fall together in perfect harmony. But, forward movement is now possible.
Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive. -Jamais Cascio
Over the last year, I have needed a few necessary distractions to power through the day and the accumulating challenges that continued to make me ask, “How much more can I handle” My favorite distraction was B. He brought me great pleasure, joy, and love. I never imagined that it would be possible to fall into love again and feel a genuine return of emotions to what I was experiencing. Some may say that B. was a rebound–maybe he was–but oh, what an exceptional diversion. His caring hands held me in a loving and supportive way that made me feel deep appreciation for a commitment in a relationship, even if it was for a brief sip of solace. He brought balance in a time of extreme uncertainty. He let me be myself, and he tended to my needs with selflessness.
Then circumstances turned to him with full-force, and he found himself falling into suffering and loss, leaving our relationship to be a distant memory. The mother of his children ripped his heart apart and took the one thing that is unforgivable: his children. She not only tore them from his tender hands but said he was using those same hands to bring suffering to them. She continues to manipulate them in a way that will damage not only their relationship with their father, but all men that they encounter in the future.
Now that my life has turned from open wounds to scars, I find myself wanting to help him. I am willing to tend to his needs with pizza in hand, release tension from his body with bodywork and care for him as he did for me, embracing him with love. His mind is so labored that his eyes are locked on the past, making even eye contact difficult. He works to exhaustion knowing that fighting for custody is not only an emotional but monetary strain. He feels trapped in an endless hole of depression. I do not understand the type of pain he is experiencing; I want him to know that I am there for him as he was for me with no strings attached. A faithful and compassionate relationship is not based on score-keeping but genuine willingness to do what is the best for the other person. And sometimes that means giving them space.
“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” –William Feather
Perhaps I was selfish by not giving him the space he needed earlier. I only wanted to help him as he’s helped me. I see now that my place in his life has a different space, and I need to give him the space he needs as he suffers in silence. Thankfully, he has longstanding friends that have known him since childhood who can offer council.
My heart was broke again as I made the choice to gather my things and walk away from an irreplaceable connection. I could feel the tightness in my chest begin to collect. I know that it was a blessing to have B. in my life. He was definitely introduced into my life for a reason. He treated me in the way that I needed to be treated at that time in my life when my mental cutting left shards piercing my self-worth. He needs a friend right now and not a lover. If what he needs is support, I will be there for him. I also know that I need time to continue healing on the path of wisdom and self love.
“Even if we can’t be together in the end I’m still grateful you were part of my life at one point.” -Anonymous
The lovers that I have lost prepared me for the love that I need to find. There are memorable adventures that will always define the person I have become, but my future holds so many possibilities for a deeper sense of love, and if possible, a person to share that with. I am a deeply passionate person and will find someone who can reciprocate the same desire for life and love. I need to spend some time alone in order to find what makes me happy, what brings me joy, and what brings vitality to my life. I am going to be what my mom would call “selfish” and tend to my needs so that I can better serve the people around me.
B. may have been the next great love of my life. So, I find myself keeping the memories of the people and experiences that have impacted me close to my heart, that the time that was spent was not wasted. I have grown so much from the person who said “I do” almost 8 years ago. I know that my ex never did see the value in my passion for personal growth and helping others. I will find a partner in time that will love and respect me for who I am, not reminding me of the person I am not. My passion for my future is vibrant, alive, and within my grasp. I can feel myself reach for the future that holds bounties and blessings.
“As time goes by, we start to see more clearly, and are able to see that it wasn’t all bad, and that perhaps just perhaps the breakup was a gift” -Osayi Osar-Emokpae
My heart aches for B., who is struggling on his own to stay afloat, and I witness his suffering from afar as he sleeps in his daughter’s bed, taking in the scents that are slowly fading. I read the emails from women whose hearts ache for a selfless love from their partners but instead cling to threads of a relationship that is familiar but not supporting them in the way that they want, need, nor deserve. I observe the wisdom that I have gained through my trials and tribulations and feel a wave of relief that after almost a year I can smile knowing that I am through the worst of this phase of my life. I can now look at myself and see “sisu” as she stares back at me. I hope to create more deserved wrinkles on my cheeks and around my eyes from laughing until my stomach hurts and peeing myself in pure pleasure.