Thursday, January 26, 2017

Time as Healer

FaceBook memories reminded me that a year ago yesterday I had written this piece. I reread it and was astonished by how different I feel one year later. I barely remember the heaviness that prompted writing that piece, and I am ever so grateful that I did. The adage Time heals all wounds might be a stretch, but my life is proof that time indeed does have a healing quality. For the purposes of continuing to mark time, I decided that this morning's writing would be devoted to commenting on last year's list with how I feel one year later and what I've learned in the past year from each of these honest statements that caused me angst a year ago.

Last year's statements are in bold. This morning's reflections are in italics.

I am coming to terms with how I can be deeply content and profoundly sad at the same time.

The deep contentment persists. I remain absolutely certain that the decision to divorce was the right one for our particular circumstances, and that difficult decision is made easier to bear because my daughter is thriving and I have a solid co-parenting arrangement with her father.
The profound sadness has lifted. I simply do not feel that way a year later. It's remarkable because at the time, I couldn't fathom how I could feel different. I imagine my 42 year-old self patting the hand of last year's Julie. “Trust me, it really is going to get better.”

I am lonely for something or someone I cannot quite put my finger on.

The intense loneliness I felt has also lifted. What I contemplated last year was the idea of being my own companion. This was a shift that required not discounting my own company. There were sometimes on lonely nights as I was falling asleep that I would hold my own hand and that act was strangly comforting. It eased the ache of solitude that plagued me a lot last year. Over time, I simply feel content with my own company. This has been an area of vast improvement for my well-being.

I am weepy, and when those moments come I wonder if I can ever grow strong in my broken places.

Not so weepy these days. I embrace my broken places remembering this: “In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object's history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.”
I do still struggle with the ability to cry alone. I've never been able to do it successfully, so I welcome the tears when they crop up in conversation with a friend or coworker. I also find that tears flow much easier when I'm at church. 
I'm not eating enough.

This issue crops up from time to time, and I suppose it will since I am stress non-eater. I eat much better when my daughter is at home with me because I'm responsible for feeding my child. I have room to grow in remembering that I'm responsible for feeding myself, but it's just not as enjoyable—especially without a sense of smell—to eat alone. All of this came bubbling to the surface when I met Writer-Dude. It would have been easy to shut down the conversation or never speak to this man again after his comment about my weight, but instead I paused. What could this moment teach me? What could I gain from exploring his concern and truth be told, my own concern?

This strange experience with my first post-divorce date led me back to counseling where I've begun to peel away deeper layers of my emotional pain. The man is no longer in my life, but I am benefiting from his ill-timed concern.

My daughter is joining the Girls on the Run team at school and I plan to run with her. This will require that I do a better job of fueling my body. 
I miss my daughter when we are apart.

This will never change, but I don't feel bereft when we're apart. I know she has a great time with her dad and that she's in good hands. The time apart offers me an opportunity to recharge my energy and pursue my interests without interruption. It also makes our Wednesday reunions even sweeter.

I'm tired of thinking about the debt I have to pay down.

I've accepted that this is where I am for now and take comfort that I won't always be in debt. I have removed the shame I felt that I had a credit card balance. I remembered that life happens. Cars break down. I didn't amass debt because I shopped too much at The Limited. 
I have made adjustments to my money management, which helps me feel more in control, and I am pursuing a freelance writing gig. Sometimes I fantasize about a big chunk of money appearing out of nowhere, but honestly, I really want to conquer this on my own. It will be another story I tell myself of my ability to care for myself and my family. I stopped wringing my hands, accepted where I am, and made a plan for how to move forward. I like that narrative much better.

I'm scared that I may never be a published writer.

I'm not worried about this anymore. I love writing at my blog. I honor the writing I do here, and appreciate the fact that I have generous readers who encourage me and seem to benefit from the stories I tell. This writing is enough. It fuels me. It heals me. It makes me feel good. If other opportunities come my way, I will welcome them, but I will not consider myself “less than” if a book deal does not come my way.

I'm scared that the story I'm writing will never be as good outside my head as it is inside.

Again, not something I worry about anymore. I know how important writing Astrid's story has been to my life. That's what's important. I've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about something like this.

I get anxious when I can't plan for the future or even have the remotest idea what might come my way.

This is the biggest area of improvement. I simply am not worried about what does or does not come my way. It's a measure of how far I've come in practicing living in the present. What happens eight months from now is not my business today. I'll get there when I get there. Time and time again over the past year things and people have crossed my path that I could not have imagined. These moments were glorious, difficult, and instructive, and made all the better because of the element of surprise. I am so much better at taking life as it comes—it's really the only way to live life. 
Settling into the idea of being alone seems to have made the biggest difference in no longer worrying about what's to come. I identified that a lot of my anxiety was coming from a place that was informed by what society says I should do or be: 
Society: Find someone, partner up, that's how you'll be happy in life. 
Me: Well, that didn't work for me the first time. I'd like to consider other options. Like enjoying my own company.

Society: That might work for a bit, but it won't last.

Me: We'll see about that.

I would love to find a partner. But it's no longer a goal. If it happens, it happens. That's such a better place to be.

These winter days have me feeling like I'm a character in Groundhog Day.

Admittedly, I do not weather the dark winter months as well as I used to. On nights without Cadence, I often am unproductive and put myself to bed early. I can't seem to muster much energy with all this darkness, and yet, I no longer think of that as a problem. In fact, I believe we're meant to hunker down, rest, reflect, and recharge before the days get longer and there's more for us to do.

I am an overthinker, and am wondering how to turn off the chatter in my head.

Still an overthinker, but I have found ways to quiet the chatter: walking and writing, chiefly. I accept myself for who I am so much more than I did at any other time in life. I am gentler with myself. I don't berate myself for what I think are flaws. I observe them. I see where they might cause me trouble and work to ease that and otherwise I let it go.

The other thing that occurs to me as I reflect: I am much more comfortable with being vulnerable. I am not afraid of sharing where I feel weak or where I need help. In doing that, I know I have grown stronger. And in my new-found strengths, I feel more capable of helping others. Owning my home as a single woman has exposed my vulnerabilities and is a great metaphor for this time in my life. I don't know everything I need to know to maintain this house, but I'm not shy about asking for help. In doing that, I learn, grow in confidence, and appreciate my house more. 
I keep thinking about how far I have come in one, two, three years. I am amazed at how much better I feel. How confident and sure of myself I am. I trust my gut implicitly, and let her drive my decision-making. I keep wondering, Where will another year take me? I am certain that wherever it is, it'll be good.

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