Fact: This blog turned 2 years old this past week.
Fact: This blog has largely gone ignored for the better half of this year. However, unlike last time I went through a period of silence, this has not come from a time of despair but rather a time of change that has been (mostly) good. It’s funny how you can put your nose to the grindstone, working long and hard to better your life, but when you finally stop and look up, in many ways you are back where you started. At first this might catch you off guard and seem a little frustrating on the surface. You just put in a whole lot of effort for things to be completely different. But, really, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
I started this blog because it was a tumultuous time in my life; a time full of massive change and I needed help processing it. I was starting over, literally, going my separate ways with not only my husband but life as I knew it entirely. In some regards my separation had left me broken and scared and lost. But in others ways, it was exciting and empowering. No matter the hurt and no matter the garble of emotions that ran through me like leaves in the wind , I was finally making active changes in my life and taking steps to find happiness instead of living a dull and dormant life full of the expected, for the sake of checking predetermined life accomplishments off of a list. Taking that leap- the first real risk I have ever taken in my whole life- was emotionally taxing but also empowering.
But that feeling of empowerment was quickly eclipsed by bitterness. For a time, I thought I was getting better and making moves to continue bettering my life, but in reality I often was just as unhappy as when I was married and I could not figure out why.
After much wallowing through the holiday season, the need to incite some change really hit home when my grandiose plans for New Years Eve fell through. Instinctively, I instantly felt overwhelming disappointment. But then something magical happened: I had a simple and unexpectedly wonderful New Years Eve with a few friends venturing no further than a few blocks from my apartment. It hit me that more of often than not, life wasn’t about things that are over-the-top-amazing, adventurous or even Facebook worthy. When I thought about it, I didn’t really even want to go with the original New Years Eve plan. It would have been expensive and crowded and stressful. For this year at least, the more simple and low key New Years Eve suited me much better and more than anything else, it gave me a memorable night that filled my heart with love and laughter.
So New Years morning I decided that I owed it to myself to start fresh. It was time to let go and move on; start the proverbial new chapter. I realized that I was still living my life adhering to some variation of that predetermined mental checklist, which meant I was doing things only because I thought I should be doing- not for the sake of actually wanting to do them. Saying ‘yes’ to every social invite, sitting at a bar when I would rather be home, watching certain TV shows or movies, volunteering at certain places- all of it was done automatically, without thought, and all of it left me empty and numb. And while I had taken that leap of faith in leaving my married life, I was now obsessing over how messy this mental checklist had gotten in the wake of my divorce. Perfect credit: ruined. House owner: no longer. Perfectly thin body: now replaced with fluffy layer. Projection of innocence: long gone.
I had to reel it in. After all, it was this checklist mentality that got me into my marital mess. My obsession over keeping my life organized and appearing perfect and making choices based on some societal playbook that dictated what needed to be “the next step” rather than moving forward because it was best for me, was what ultimately led me to marry a man I had no romantic feelings for. It quickly became obvious that the way I perceived life needed to be revamped and all of the baggage weighing me down needed to be dropped off at the station.
That first day of the new year, ironically amidst a looming hangover, I decided I was going to treat my body better and create a more balanced lifestyle. I would make an active effort to keep more than just beer in my fridge and actually cook myself dinner. I would join the droves of Resolution-ers in going back to the gym and I was going to started reading and writing again. I agreed to stop making a routine of going out until the lights at the bar came on and my vision was blurry and memories hazy.
More than anything, I promised myself that, even if sometimes I felt like I was faking it, I would stop feeling sorry for myself and enjoy the blessings around me, no matter how little. Instead of thinking about how pathetically empty my bed felt at night, I made myself say a silent word of thanks for my dogs who were snuggled up next to me. Instead of feeling bitter about how my divorce had gone down, I tried to remember it could have been worse in so many ways. And instead of keeping my emotions safely tucked away, I decided to open my heart to whatever love came my way- romantic or otherwise. I acquiesced to the concept that love is not controllable and trying otherwise was a waste of my time. The simple fact was, some friends will move on without you, some men will just never call you and some people I just can’t force myself to love. I made peace with the fact that I would, inevitably, get hurt on some level by any relationship in my life and conversely I would hurt others, even if unintentionally. Empirically, life is awkward and uncomfortable and heartbreaking and downright messy. But in light of this, my new goal became not to avoid the messiness, but make it so that the good times were plentiful enough to balance out whatever shitstorm came my way.
In many ways, 8 months later, though not all of the time but in general, I have followed through on a lot of these promises. My life has changed and I am far healthier both mentally and physically than I have been in quite some time. I am proud of this, but this change is still hard and today I find myself still struggling with letting go just as much as I ever have. Only this time, my struggle is not so much letting go of the baggage of my past at large, but letting go of the life I have cultivated over the two years since I have left my married life.
Oddly enough, if feels likes I am yet again starting over and going my separate ways. Starting over by saying good bye to the party girl, hook up chick, and general instability I fostered for the last two years. Starting over by re-framing the way I view certain relationships and routines and thought patterns I once knew and kept me company. It means certain people need to be cut out or let go. It means I have to accept that cheese and wine is not a real dinner. It means happy hour does not extend until 3am every single weekend. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at once. But I can no longer hide behind the veil of the excuse of divorce for my actions or shortcomings. It is time to tuck the divorce away, adding it to the long, long list of things that do not define me but make me who I am. And I am proud of that.
In the end, I cannot think of a more appropriate way to ring in the two year anniversary of this blog, Separate Ways, than to realize that I am
again still going a separate way from the path I thought had been laid out before me to find true happiness. I have truly come full circle, but this time as I walk down that diverging path, my separate way is being embraced with open arms because I know that it’s not about the checklist in my head, it is about the adventure and the empowerment that comes from the leap into the great unknown.