Not Alone, Whole

In the time following my divorce I let myself down tremendously. In my mind I was an independent person and I swore to myself that I would be just fine. It is in my value system that a person does not need to rely on others to make them happy. Yes, being with other people and having meaningful relationships is a significant part of happiness, but not the only part. In no way was I going to let the dissolution of my ten-year marriage destroy me. And it didn’t. Not really. 

The problem was that I set my views of what “not destroying me” meant a bit too high. In my mind I wouldn’t cry but once or twice, I would embrace my new freedom and rebuild my life with enthusiasm. I got that partly right, most days.

At first it was great! I had new goals and hope and all sorts of wonderful things to look forward to! I moved, got a new job, and started at a university – which was a major life dream of mine. Things settled down. Then, I started to feel the weight of the last couple years. The stress of the divorce – and all the mess that went with it – had made my mind fragile. I couldn’t think. All the things I was trying to learn at the university felt out of my grasp. My mind was slippery and felt cramped. This had never happened to me before! I had always been able to learn effortlessly. This was the only thing I ever felt I was good at and I found myself dropping classes! So much for my goals.

Couple that with my life-long tenancy to stuff things rather than deal with them and I found myself becoming something I didn’t ever want to be. I had battled depression before, but this round was the worst yet. It went in cycles. I’d be fine for a few weeks, carrying out life, working on turning my new apartment into a home and paying my bills. Then one day I could hardly get out of bed and I started crying all the time and anywhere. I’d cry at work, in the car, on my days off I’d be listless in bed, not so much crying as a constant stream of tears and helplessness. This would go on for about two weeks. I’d start to feel better again, and then I’d crash again. Up and down and up and down… I began to feel terrified of the next down cycle. The whole time I’m telling myself “I can do this,” “It’s okay,” “It’ll pass,” “Things are better now.” They were, but I couldn’t get my emotions to understand that. I eventually dropped my pride, dropped out of school, saw a doctor, and got some help. Sometimes that extra help really is a necessity. 

Things got better. It’s been nearly four years now and I haven’t had a down cycle in months. It took way more time than I wanted it to. Things still aren’t perfect, but my mind is coming back and I am fathoms more comfortable being alone. Well, not alone… It occurs to me that we don’t have an adequate word to describe how I feel now. I’m not alone; I have friends and my children and family. Independent doesn’t really work either, I feel like that has nothing to do with relationships and more to do with just not being dependent. Single doesn’t work either because that just relates to romantic relationships. 

What I do feel is whole. I don’t feel like I’m missing something anymore. Yes, a romantic relationship would possibly be fun and fulfilling. It’d be nice to have someone to do things with, talk, cuddle, create dreams, and share the load of life. But I’m comfortable in my own skin again and I feel like I can see a path before me. Who knows what that path will hold, but my lover now is life and living the full breadth and length of it. My goal now is to sew into my children and sew into myself. My goal is to relearn how to learn and give my mind the combination of rest and exercise it needs to be able to recover. My goal is to use what I have gone through to be a help to others if I can. After all, what’s the use of experience if you can’t turn it into a benefit? 


Time to Leap

A while ago I took my youngest out with me to do some errands. At some point, and I still don’t know what inspired this, she looked at me and said, “Mom, you need to take a leap of faith.” Huh?  I though about it for a bit and explained that I had actually done that not too long ago when we packed up everything and moved and her dad and I got divorced. That leap had been a very scary decision that paid off well, for all parties I believe. She replied, “I think it’s time for another.” My tiniest is eight. This was an odd bit of insight coming from the child we’ve nicknamed “Tornado.” Whenever inspired it, even if it was a TV show, she saw that it was needed in my life. I’m choosing to take her wisdom to heart. 

I’m not a great leaper. I plan things and I generally have an idea of where I’m going and what my next goal is. So, jumping into something without knowing what’s at the bottom is slightly terror inspiring for me. I suppose that’s the point. I have actually done this many times, but it’s an anxious process and hasn’t always worked out for the best. Still, I’ve survived well enough that I know things generally work out as long as you keep working at it. 

This is part of my leap. The other part might take years and might never see the light of day, but I’m still doing it. 

And the thing is, this leap might be the only thing that gets me to where I really want to be. It might not, but my current path probably won’t either. There’s a little risk involved, but it wouldn’t be a Leap of Faith without risk right? 

I’ll leave you with some seriously meaningful lyrics. You might remember the group Hanson from the mid-90’s. They were very young kids with long hair, music that far deeper than it seemed on the surface, and seriously understated talent. I was a fan. Then, life happened and I totally missed their second album (which was pretty good too), probably due to the stigma they had picked up and the rise of harder, darker music in my life. Their third album got stuck in production for years and at every turn their label would thwart their efforts. They did a series on YouTube about the struggle if you’re interested. Finally, they took a Leap of Faith. They broke with their label and started their own. They’ve released four more albums including Underneath, the one that got stuck. The first song they recorded was Broken Angel, it chronicles their struggle to do right by themselves and their art. This song has meant a lot to me and serves as a reminder to, likewise, do right by myself and my art.

Broken Angel, by Hanson
So small, yet still so proud 

At night before he dreams he looks into the clouds 

A high-flyer’s what I want to be 

Seems they won’t let me

Says I’m too small 

I don’t feel small at all 
Break my dreams

That’s what they’ll do 

Well, I’m going to run away

And learn to fly like you 

I’m going to go so high

And swoop so low 

You can’t bring me down

Going to be so proud 
Little angel, you got to learn to fly 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 

Little angel, just look in my eyes 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 
Push and shove, then climb aboard 

This is the shuttle train to the top of the world 

When you look around, what do you see?

These are all high-flyers 

But none of these high-flyers look like me 
What is that supposed to mean 

What am I supposed to be 
I pull my way up through this crowd 

To find your body crushed on the ground 

It’s so obvious; why couldn’t you see

That you can’t go high-flying 

Without a pair of high-flyer wings?
Little one’s broken lying on the ground 

Trying to get up ’till his last breath out 

Wings are strewn everywhere; there’s blood all around 

‘Cause even angels die, but that light just fades 

It’s so sad, but he’d be so proud 
Broken angel, you’ve got to learn to fly 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 

Broken angel, just look in my eyes 

Get up and earn you wings tonight 

Get up and earn your wings, earn your wings tonight