Wearing my Life Journey

I have always struggled with body image.  I have looked in the mirror and loathed the person staring back at me.  I can remember spending hours lying in bed naked, in the middle of winter, next to a wide open window, just hating everything about myself.  Wishing I wasn’t alive.  I would hear men around me use words like “cow” and “doughy” in reference to curvy women.  My weight always made me feel ugly.

As I started my journey of self discovery, I realized, my physical appearance was not what was weighing me down.  It was the weight of worrying about what other people thought, the weight of always trying to make other people happy, the weight of not knowing who I really was, because I would always morph into whoever people wanted me to be.  The weight was literally pushing me down into the ground and burying me alive.  My anxiety was so high, I could barely leave the house.  I would sit in a closet and cry.  I would go outside in a thunderstorm and pray to get struck by lightening.  I am not sure if anyone around me realized just how bad it got.  I prayed every night to not wake up.

Then, my life was turned upside down.  I was no longer someone’s wife.  My kids were growing and it was time to let them fly.  I was forced to get to know myself.  To learn who I was.  It also meant I had to look at the person I loathed the most, in the mirror.  Every day, I took a long hard look at her.  At first, I would look at her and curse and scream and cry.  But I would start finding things, each day, to be proud of.  The little extra chin, that was from eating the popcorn with extra butter when my kids took me to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with them.  So, that extra chin, it’s a reminder that my kids love me so much.  That extra roll in my back, well, that’s from going out and having a drink with a girlfriend.  I rarely kept up with friends, so getting out, was a big deal for me.  A success. 

I was starting to remember the carefree, silly girl I once was. She was coming out as a strong, kind woman who realized it didn’t matter what people thought her and that she couldn’t possibly please everyone. Loving who I am on the inside, that was the easy part, once I got to meet the real me. Working on what I saw in the mirror, that was the hardest thing. Sometimes, it’s still difficult.

You see, all too often, women are shown that beauty comes in a skinny body. I was not looking to lose my curves so I could love myself. I have known conditional love and I no longer want that in my life. The people I let in my life, myself included, will love me with no conditions. Curvy, thin, healthy, sick, happy, sad…the people that I have kept in my life, love me unconditionally. So I continued to force myself to look at myself in the mirror. “Look at that roll. That’s from all the meals my parents fed me as they supported me during the most difficult times in my life.”

“That belly, yes, it hangs over. A reminder of feeling two of the most amazing people in my life grow inside me.” I will gladly carry that reminder. “The bloated belly, that could be a good reminder of an amazing weekend of overeating, overdrinking, and laughter and love with my tribe.”

“That thigh flab, from a super fun evening with my sister, being silly.”

“Look at the way the skin under my arms moves. Maybe that’s from saying I craved mac and cheese, and coming home to three different kinds made by someone who loves me very much.”

So, whether my weight is up or down, my body is a roadmap to the incredible journey of my life. It’s a reminder of my strength and my resilience. I survived things I really didn’t know I could. So, if find that I am doubting myself, I give myself a gentle reminder that my body is my trophy of all I have survived, of all the love and support I both have and give. And that, is an easy thing to love. My curves are BEAUTIFUL.

A New Year, A New Decade…Living My Best Life

Not only do we have the clean slate of a new year, it’s a double whammy! A new decade. How were the 2010’s for you? I certainly haven’t kept the last 5 years a secret from anyone. The first five were unhappy. The next 3 seemed pretty unhappy, but were actually years of strength building…training for a marathon, if you will. The last 2 have definitely been so much better. But I have still been working on my strength training for that marathon. What kind of marathon, you ask? The Decade of Happiness.

This decade, I want to live my best life. This is going to be my Roaring ’20s. I have turned a huge corner, and this past year has been mind blowing…setting me up for the best years to come. The year started with a bang. I left my job of 11 years for a new job with more opportunity. The year ended with me being nominated for an award in that job. It’s a place for me to thrive and I am so happy there.

I have learned how to balance life so I am surrounded by happiness. I have learned to navigate what I am willing to compromise and how to stand up for myself when compromise is not an option. I can be an awesome mom, a great daughter/sister/friend and still be an amazing (there’s just no good label) girlfriend/lover/whatever it’s called. In fact, I think I have upped my relationship game. I have thrown away my passive aggressiveness and replaced it with healthy communication. Sometimes I still need help, but I am very aware of the need to communicate better. I have replaced my fear of being hurt by others, with a strength to embrace the love that people give back to me and a trust that I am loved back. The shame I felt with myself, the lack of confidence, has been permanently replaced with an “I don’t give a flying fuck” attitude. And, with all of these new replacements, I never compromised my core values. I am still kind to others (I just don’t let them walk over me), I am still loyal to those around me (but I will be more honest if something is bothering me) and I still have a heart of gold.

I have learned an amazing balancing act to live my best life. I can go out a few days a week with friends and family, yet still be happy curled up on my couch for a few nights with my pup dog. I find happiness in both and a need for both. I am not afraid of my relationships. Not a single one of them. My family, well, they are just incredible. They have always been there for me. I only hope that I can do even half of what they do for me. I lost the importance of family for too long. I don’t ever intend to do that again. Tears, laughter, sorrow, hurt, silliness…my family has been there through it all. They are my warriors.

I have found so much joy and peace in my friendships. I can count on my girlfriends to be honest and tell me when I’m an idiot. They tell me things I may not want to hear. And they catch me when I fall. We catch each other when we fall. We check in on each other almost daily, whether it’s a group chat or one-on-one. And my friends that I have had for years, well, we have our routine. I used to feel like maybe I had done something wrong when we didn’t connect for a while, but I have learned that no one has done anything wrong. We have our routines and we know that we would drop everything to be there for the other. I feel very comfortable with that.

And, I can’t forget my guy. He was my toughest barrier this year. What was supposed to be tons of fun turned into something more than I imagined. Quite frankly, it scared the shit out of me. I fought it and fought it. My girlfriends laughed at how I tried to keep him and my feelings contained in a box. But I woke up one day and said, “screw it!” I haven’t felt this way in such a long time. At least a decade. But the fear of my feelings was taking my strength away. There is such a strength in owning your feelings. So, I told him I love him. I didn’t say it to hear the words back. I didn’t say it because I thought that was what he wanted to hear. I said it because it was what I felt and I needed to stop being afraid. I needed to look at the strong foundation in my life and know that whatever happened when I said it, I would be okay. To know that those around me would catch me, if those words ended something amazing. To know that they would leap for joy with me if those words were repeated back. And to know that they would ground me and help me regroup if I wasn’t sure of the response.

What have I learned these last several years. Other people are completely out of my control. So, when my daughter says, “You do you,” well, thanks for the advice and I will take it. I cannot make someone love me. I cannot make friends like me. But it will happen naturally if I am completely me.

So, I have no idea what’s in store for me this decade. Life can throw some crazy curveballs. But I have my armor of confidence on and am ready. I will be living my best life. No room for fear. Just a decade of being myself. Being there to lift others when they need me, and knowing when to ask for help when I need it. With the foundation I have, I’m a lucky Wonder Woman. I will be able to conquer anything.

Thank you to all the amazing people in my life. Every one of you got me through some crazy tough times. Every one of you plays a special role in my life and I appreciate everything I have learned from all of you. So long 2010’s…Hello 2020’s! Happy New Decade!!!!!

Meet the Real Me

Yes, my story is real, and the strength I have gained from my experiences in life is very real. But, my story…my trauma, my anxiety…they don’t define me. I DON’T HAVE anxiety, I live my life despite it. I am NOT a victim, I have survived through trauma. There is a huge difference, and for a long time, I let both define me. What I learned is that you get stuck in those definitions and it becomes who you are. It was incredibly freeing when I learned that I didn’t have to be defined by these labels.

Growing up I was a bit of a trouble maker. Just ask my parents or my sister, especially my dad. Boy did I know how to push his buttons. I was a happy kid. I had friends in the neighborhood. We were usually bouncing from playground to playground. I loved spinning on the tire swing, at the playground behind our house, and looking up at the sky as we spun really fast. And the regular swings. Remember trying to swing so high you went all the way around the top bar? We tried, but never succeeded. I used to ride my bike down big hills with my hands to the side, feeling the wind rip through my hair. And I would steal kitchen spoons so I could dig to China in the backyard. I never quite made it. I would have always preferred bare feet to my tennis shoes. But my parents always caught me. And dancing, oh how I loved to dance. I enjoyed the feel of the bass as it ran through my body.

My sister and I would build blanket forts. They were always amazing. We would build forts with separate rooms in them. We used so many blankets. But the minute my sister made me mad, I would yank that fort down. When we went to the local elementary school to play tennis, I would pound my racket on the ground if I wasn’t winning. In elementary school, my friends and I would walk to school. But we usually walked the way our parents told us not to. In school, there were many times I was removed from the classroom because I was causing trouble.

On the weekends, my friends and I would watch scary movies. My hands would be in front of my face and I would be plugging my ears at the same time. But we loved scary movies. I was me and I never apologized for that. I always wanted to be outside and, in the summers, I would stay out as late as I could, until my mom put the front lights on. I was a free spirit. It had a way of getting me in trouble. I didn’t like rules. But, when I look back, I really like who I was.

I let my fear of what others thought of me get in the way for a very long time. I let my anxiety define me. I let myself play the role of the victim and expected others to nurture me and take care of me. I thought that was who I was. I let my experiences define me. I stopped watching horror films because they increased my anxiety. I stopped trying to dig to China and I stopped trying to make that swing flip over the bar. And…I stopped dancing. Oh how I missed dancing.

When I started living on my own, I realized, who the hell cares what others think of me. I liked the kid I was growing up. Maybe not everything was perfect about her, but she was actually pretty awesome, and she was a force to be reckoned with. I started taking yoga. While I was no longer trying to flip that swing over the bar, I was doing some incredible poses that I thought I would be way too old to do. And, I got to be barefoot while doing it. Growing up, I knew exactly how to push people’s buttons. I believe some of that was because I could read people pretty well. I do not try to push buttons anymore. Instead, I use my ability to read people to support them and put a smile on their faces. I don’t try to dig to China, but I feel very excited about my new love for travel and hope I get to take a ton of trips. I enjoy watching scary movies again (just not by myself). And dancing…I love to dance again. I go out and dance, I stay home and dance, I cook dinner and I dance. I am the person that I am and I make absolutely no apologies. If I offend someone, it’s okay. They don’t have to like me. But I won’t apologize.

This is the real me. Not my trauma, not my anxiety. I returned to the person I used to be, only, more grown up. I like who I am now. I am more than happy to share my story with others, but I realized it was important for you all to know who I really am. I do understand that a lot of my strength comes from my experiences and I don’t discount them. I live with anxiety and I am a survivor, but really, I am so much more than that.

Fall…My Favorite Time of Year…But…

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year! I love the colors, the crisp air, the crunch of the leaves when you walk on them. And don’t even get me started on pumpkin spice and apple cider.

But…I have a secret to tell…this is when I find I struggle. I am still strong. I still put a smile on my face and now I will make it through the season. But, boy do I struggle. I haven’t seen my kids in almost 2 months, it gets dark earlier, when I wake up in the morning it’s still dark, the holidays are coming up (which I tend to dread), and I really don’t enjoy my birthday much.

I have missed my kids like crazy. Talking and texting with them a couple of times a week is not near enough. And as my time with them coming home for breaks gets shorter and shorter, I just want to hang on for dear life and enjoy the moments I have with them. Being a parent, and letting them grow up is one of the hardest things I have had to do. I try to give them space, but, at the same time, I want to make sure they know I am always there if they need me. I do hope they know that.

When I was younger, my anxiety used to get so much worse when daylight savings ended. The sky looked so ominous, and I felt like the world was coming to an end. I don’t feel that way anymore. But the feelings I used to get have really stuck with me, and it’s easy to get caught up in those memories. They consumed my life for so many years and I do believe that, while I don’t have that anxiety anymore, I still anticipate it. The sunshine always seems to make everything better.

Holidays, well, we’ve all heard that holidays tend to be the toughest time of year for some people. I am no exception. It’s a time for family and love. Don’t get me wrong. I have an absolutely amazing family and so much love in my life. But it’s so hard to be with intact family units by myself. I feel pretty alone, and no matter how much I anticipate those feelings, it’s still tough.

And my birthday, well, I have not enjoyed it for a long time. My family does everything to try to make it special. No matter how much I tell myself that I know they are not trying to make it special out of pity, it always feels like my own personal pity party. My kids aren’t home to celebrate. I get a happy birthday text and a quick phone call. My co-workers recently told me I am supposed to take my birthday off and celebrate. It just struck me, what am I celebrating? Years of feeling like I wasn’t important enough to celebrate? Honestly, every year I say I am going to celebrate me. And every year, as it gets closer, I start to feel that dread and insecurity, and just decide to try to spend the day acting like it’s not even a thing.

The thing is, I think most people have a time of year they dread. Whether it’s a birthday, the holidays, another type of date, or a whole fucking season…it’s okay. Take the time to really acknowledge your feelings. I tend to invest in extra tissues and take some extra time for myself. The most important thing, during these times, is to know it isn’t forever. You see, once I get through all the dread, I start getting excited for the first good snowfall. The brightness of the snow. Watching the dog leap through it like a kangaroo. And even shoveling snow. The darkness is not here to stay and I know that. I will continue to walk through life with a smile on my face and maybe a few extra tissues (I don’t recommend tissues with Vick’s for tears), because I know the light will return and I will feel so much better. If I hide under the covers, because I am afraid of the dark, how will I know when the sun is shining.

What’s Your Story…An Update

Early September I shared my story of trauma and anxiety, strength and empowerment. I shared my story with the hopes that I can reach out to others. I can’t lie. It’s therapeutic for me too. Blogging has made me look deep inside myself to really figure out me. It’s a work in progress, but we are all evolving. The goal is to be happy with where you are headed.

I was totally unprepared for the healing that I had no idea I still needed. Not that I thought I was completely healed. I thought it was a part of me I would carry. It would always be there but not take over my life. I have been in a great place for quite some time now. So imagine my surprise when I got a message from a friend that I have not talked to in over 30 years. She lived right down the block from me when we were growing up. After I posted my blog, I went to dinner with my parents. As I’m having dinner I get a very long facebook message from my friend apologizing to me. She has a memory of me sharing with her about the abuse. At 6, she didn’t know how to process that information and never said anything to anyone.

I cannot explain the waves of emotions that followed. There was always the smallest piece of me that wondered if what had happened was a nightmare. I think that was because I was asked if I was sure it wasn’t a dream. I was positive, but there was a seed of doubt planted in my brain. Maybe the question was asked because my disclosure was years after the trauma. Either way, the question has always left me with the smallest sliver of doubt. So, when my friend reached out to me, it was like putting the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. I didn’t realize how much that doubt weighed on me. But reading those words…”you and I”…”in your parents’ basement”…”and you talking about it.” Any doubt I had was completely erased. It had happened. I had told someone. I remembered that, but again, was that maybe a dream? Everything I was certain to be true was completely validated.

I got home from dinner and I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. Not one part of me was sad. Those tears, they were cleansing tears. The tears from a ton of weight being lifted off my shoulders. I should never have doubted myself. So, while my friend is apologizing for not understanding my plea, words cannot describe the healing she gave to me earlier this month. How has my life changed in the last month? Well, there were times that my mind would take me back to those moments at 7 years old. That little voice in my head would start to whisper, “was it real?” I struggled to get past that. To trust my memories. I can honestly say, since she and I messaged, I have not revisited those moments again. I don’t look back and wonder if I said or did something wrong. So, while I will never forget what happened, I do not need to look back anymore and question. My past experiences helped create who I am today, but they do not define me.

So, I set out to share my story to reach others and make a difference. To my friend who reached out, Thank You!!!!! I will never be able to put into words what you gave to me by reaching out. I believe you were not meant to do anything with my disclosure when you were 6. It was always now. You were meant to tuck it away for that moment, earlier this month. That was when I needed it. Thank you for turning me straight ahead on my path so I can move forward and stop backtracking periodically.

What’s Your Story

I have been taking this amazing class for the last three weeks. It ended last week. That left me feeling a little empty. I felt connected with the class and was so grateful for all I learned. It was a class to become certified as a Peer Recovery Specialist. According to Tennessee’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services website, https://www.tn.gov/behavioral-health/mental-health-services/cprs/peer-recovery-services/certified-peer-recovery-specialist-program.html, the definition is as follows: a person who has lived experience of a mental illness, substance use disorder or co-occurring disorder, who has made the journey from illness to wellness, and who now wishes to help others. Being a trauma survivor and surviving years of anxiety gives me lived experiences to work with others who feel as though I can relate to their struggles.

Throughout the class, we would occassionally share bits and pieces of our stories. Each person in the class brought such unique gifts. I believe we were a pretty special class. On the second to last day, we all took turns sharing our story from beginning to end. We did not sit around and mope about the struggles in our lives. We each told a story of suffering that led to amazing hope and transformation. We briefly spoke of our bad experiences, but turned it around to show how we all became survivors of what life handed to us. While it was an emotionally draining day, I was so encourged by how resilient people are. And one thing that seemed to be universal, was that when the skeletons are let out of the closet, healing can begin. I have released my skeletons, but not for the whole world. So, here goes.

As a survivor of childhood sexual trauma, my control was taken from me at an early age. As I got older, anxiety set in. I was afraid of things beyond my control. I was up all night with an upset stomach and was distracted in class. There were so many times I felt like I was floating towards the ceiling and watching everything around me. At the time, my toolbox of coping skills was empty. I didn’t know grounding tools to help with the dissociation. I was stuck. Not sleeping led to depression. I either could barely eat or I couldn’t stop eating. I hated my body, I hated that I couldn’t concentrate in class, I hated that I felt isolated from friends because of my anxiety, and mostly, I hated myself.

My anxiety lasted from my third year in college (1993) until May, 2015. What changed? While I had talked a little about my childhood trauma, it still felt like a skeleton. The day I became single, was the day I found the strength to let my voice ROAR. Silence, no more. For me, staying silent meant staying a victim. That day, I did the Linda Carter spin and Wonder Woman was born. I took care of myself. I built a support network that was amazing and didn’t judge me. When I felt myself getting down, I used the tools my therapist gave me to get through. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t an easy road. I fell down a lot. It took another year and a half to start recovering from the depression and really thinking I am worthy of amazing things. I love what I see in the mirror each day. Some days I would like a little fewer rolls, or maybe a little extra time to get myself organized, but all in all, I look in the mirror and I am that little girl that used to run around in those awesome Wonder Woman underoos with so much confidence. I was always her. I just forgot.

Recently, I had someone ask why the hell I would have gotten such a big tattoo for my first one. It’s a reminder to never forget that confident little Wonder Girl who would grow up to be a powerful Wonder Woman and would change the world of some people for the better.

My road to recovery is unique. Just as anyone else’s journey is unique. My experiences will be different than yours. But we can all find ways to relate to one another. I would love to encourage anyone who would like to share their stories to please do so. I would love to hear the amazing things you have to offer. To hear about your amazing strength. And if you aren’t ready to share your story, know that there is nothing wrong with that. Again, this is your own journey. When you’re ready, your path will be paved for you.

“The strength of my soul was born on the backs of moments that brought me to my knees.” S. L. Heaton

Misery Loves Company, Happiness is Contagious

***I want to start by saying I do recognize that there are many people with mental health issues that cannot just simply change their thought process. Maybe this will be helpful and maybe not, but I am in no way minimizing your personal struggle. I’m simply sharing my journey for going through storms in my life.***

Yawn!!!!!! Did you just picture someone yawning? Do you feel like doing it now? Seriously, I am yawning now, as I am typing. If yawning is that contagious, just think about all the other energy we put out. It’s contagious too. And some people emit the energy much more than others.

When I used to work at the shelter, I always said, one person can change the entire atmosphere of the shelter. I had clients who were nice as can be, however, when I would walk out of my office and see that person, all the energy I had was sucked out of me. It’s wild how one interaction can do that. As an empath, I am able to really feel the emotions of others. Sometimes it is a gift. But I have also learned that my energy can be pretty strong too. If I’m down, the people around me will know it. If I surround myself with happiness, that will be very apparent also.

Have you ever noticed that when you sit around with friends and one starts talking negatively, most will follow suit. There may be jokes and laughing, but that underlying negativity is still there. Facebook is a great example. Someone posts something and someone argues. All the sudden, the conversation is about the negativity, not the post. People get sucked into drama. I don’t know a single person who truly enjoys having drama in their life. Yet, we surround ourselves with drama (tv shows, gossip, politics…).

I have learned that for me, it’s easy to be negative. That’s the easy way for me. And, if I am miserable, I typically find someone who will join me in my negativity. I mean seriously, if you aren’t happy, do you really want Happy Harriet coming up to you and saying, “Look on the bright side,” or “just think of the good that can come out of this.” Honestly, I would want to punch her in the face. But here’s the thing. If Happy Harriet can get past my negativity and keep being positive, that happiness will most likely start to rub off on me, and me negativity will soon turn into happiness. And, while it’s not as easy for me to let happiness take over, it feels better. So, I have tried to make a conscious effort to let happiness drive me.

In the last couple of years I have focused on keeping a smile on my face and trying to find humor in things that would normally bring me down. It has made such a huge difference in my life. I used to think I was a Negative Nancy…well, I was a Negative Nancy. But I also thought I was surrounded by negativity. It turns out I may have been bringing out the negative in the people around me.

As I started having a more positive outlook, my conversations became less and less negative. I began to laugh so much more. I forgot how good it was to lauch and let my dirty sense of humor out. I could feel weight just falling off my shoulders. And suddenly, the people around me were smiling and laughing too.

I used to say “fake it ’til you make it.” My kids hated that saying. I didn’t really believe it either, until I felt it. You can fake happiness until you find it. Happiness is so contagious, that it can put a real smile on your face. Now, I walk into a room with a smile on my face. Because, if I have a choice to bring people down or help them stand tall, I will always choose to help them stand tall.

You’re Only as Old as You Act

My ex-husband used to say this all the time. I never understood what he meant until we separated. When I was in high school, I had a good time. I went to parties, I flirted with boys, I would sneak out of the house (sorry Mom). But then I started dating my ex. It was amazing! We would go to the movies and to Harper’s Ferry. We took trips to the beach and went camping. But we were old. We went to bed before the sun went down, we didn’t go on trips with friends. It was mostly just us.

Soon, things began to shift. When I look back, they started to shift in college. I started having horrible anxiety in my 3rd year at Radford. I can remember lying awake at night terrified that I was dying. My stomach would hurt and I would just lie in bed. In class, I would almost feel like I was outside of my body looking down. I couldn’t focus. The anxiety was all consuming. I kept the anxiety to myself for months. Finally, I had to tell someone. So, in the middle of going to the bathroom (please don’t judge), I called my ex in to share my fears. He was pretty amazing about it. But something changed in me. I started feeling my self-worth declining. While mine was declining, his seemed to be increasing. I started feeling like I was lucky that he wanted to be with me, as opposed to us being lucky to have found each other. I love to dance, but we never went because he didn’t like to dance. I am close to my family and wanted to visit with extended family, however, it was always too far out of the way (although we did go way out of the way to visit a hunting buddy of his). Story behind that. The cousin I wanted to visit, she was only about an hour, each way, out of the way. She was several years older than me, but was always so good to me. I would always get excited when I knew I would see Debbie. Everyone else thought of me as a brat (I was). But she never treated me like that. I will always regret sitting back with my mouth closed when he said it was too far. Right after we separated, I started talking with Debbie about flying out to see her. It never happened. She passed away suddenly. My heart broke. I never got the chance to really tell her how much she meant to me. How amazing she made me feel. I never felt like this young kid just tagging along. She always made me feel welcome with her.

I found that I started letting my life revolve around him. I’ve already told the story. I didn’t nurture friendships and it all came crashing down when we separated.

But, while it felt like everything came crashing down, did it really? The moment my ex left the house for the last time, my anxiety disappeared. Yes, that anxiety followed me through our entire relationship. There were many sleepless nights and tears. And, I felt old. My ex had started training for marathons and taking care of himself. Me…I was too afraid that if I didn’t support him 100% and ask for no support in return, he would walk away. I was overweight, feeling old, and completely forgot who I was before I let myself be controlled.

The moment he left, the ton of bricks became feathers that floated off my shoulders. I was free. I’m not saying I was instantly happy. The separation and divorce were a horrible roller coaster that I would not like to repeat. However, I started reaching out to people and making friends. I love to dance. I found friends that would go out with me and dance. Live music…I love it. I had never been to the Tally Ho before. Not only have I been to the Tally Ho, but I got dressed up in my best 80’s gear, without being told how stupid it was. Slowly, but surely, I was finding myself again. And I began dating. And I found out that people liked me for who I really was. I don’t apologize for who I am. I don’t tend to make plans, I just do what feels right. I see myself as a free spirit. I enjoy my life immensely now. I’m having a blast. And I don’t feel like an old lady anymore.

My ex was right. You’re only as old as you act. I had to let go of that relationship to realize just how old I was acting and that my life was not over. I’m realizing now how young I am and how much living I have left to do.

The In-Between Moments

Just a couple weeks ago I went and saw Bohemian Rhapsody. What a movie! There was a moment, when Freddy Mercury was talking with his future lover, Jim Hutton. He said he was afraid of life’s “in-between” moments. Before that moment, the movie showed his wild and lavish lifestyle. On the outside, it appears as though he has everything. But the movie shows him in his mansion, with his cats, all alone. He has no idea what to do with himself. My heart broke for him. And I understood exactly what he meant by those “in-between” moments.

When I first got separated, I remember the first night my kids spent away from the house. I was alone. Sure, I had friends. But when all your friends are marriage friends, it gets pretty awkward. And these friends were not ones I felt like I could call or text when I needed someone. I never nurtured my friendships to create that type of a relationship. So, those “in-between” moments, well, they were all the time. I would get anxious just anticipating them. I felt alone, even before the house was empty, just knowing the torture of it. My family was amazing at checking in on me. But I lacked those friendships we all need. No friends were checking in on me. I felt as though I just didn’t matter.

So, I filled that alone time? I drank a lot and I went on dating sites trying to find someone to fill that void. Really, what I found, was that the dating was mostly rejection with some dates that ended badly because I wouldn’t sleep with someone on a first date. The “in-between” moments were still there, only much worse. I had the rejection of dating and still no friends to check on me and see how I was. Clearly, drinking and dating were not the answers.

On a whim, I searched for local divorce groups. I found this amazing group for women going through separation and divorce. We all had something in common. It took time to nurture those friendships, but it has been amazing. As a group, we try to get together fairly regularly. It can be tough, as everyone with children has different custody schedules, but we make it work. Normally we meet out somewhere, usually a restaurant. We’ve gone to concerts as well (and I danced so much I could barely walk the next day). I had my first get-together at my home with this wonderful group of ladies. Okay, so the get-together was supposed to be a game night, but we never opened a single game. I did a take two of game night, but still, no games were opened. But the company was great.

Apart from the group activities, I have made some amazing friends who I have come to rely on and enjoy spending time with. Some of my “in-between” moments are starting to be filled with brunches and movie nights and impromptu drinks. I got a text the other night “I’m bored. Let’s get a drink!” It was out of the blue, but it made my day. Coming home to an empty house doesn’t feel nearly as alone anymore. I don’t need to have someone on the couch next to me, nor do I have to have someone constantly texting and checking in on me. I have some pretty amazing friends, that I know have my back. And they know I have theirs. I have an amazing family and they are my rock. It has taken me a long time to realize just how much I have in my life, but I’m so grateful for all of it.

I do still have some pretty torturous “in-between” moments. And I feel sorry for myself. And I’m pretty miserable to be around. But picking myself up from that is much easier. And each and every day, I like myself even more. That’s the ultimate key to being alone. Finding yourself again and learning to like what you see in the mirror. It’s still a work in progress, I will always be a work in progress. But with the help of amazing friends and family, I make many more steps forward than I do backwards.

When those moments of torture get the best of you, reach out to a friend or family member. Find a group and make the most of it. Step out of your comfort zone to meet new people. It’s not going to happen unless you make it happen. But when it does, girlfriend, you are going to soar!!!!!!!!!