Friday, February 21, 2014

One year ago: lives changed.

Today marks the start of the week that one year ago my entire life changed.  This photo was taken just days before.  I was ignorantly blissful.  So happy. 
Throughout this entire year I have been so thankful for the joy that naturally lies within me.  Some people genuinely need a circumstance, a certain someone, a job, or that one specific thing to make them happy from day to day.  That's never really been an essential part of me.  I have always felt like, no matter where I go, no matter who I'm with, no matter what I'm doing...rich or poor, alone or surrounded...
I can almost always be content; happy. 
 
However, when your entire world falls apart in just a short seven days, it surely is life changing. 
I took the time this week to go back over my photos from this last year.  I wanted to see it.  I wanted to see the days before my husband left, the painful moments of that first week he was gone, and then the victory days when I was able to make really solid decisions and move forward with a lot of strength for myself and these kids. 
I wanted to see the progression of what my life used to be into what it has become.  In one week's time I went from having the feeling of total security; that which you should feel in a marriage-to being a single mom, and being very alone.  There was no explanation.  No closure.  Just an abrupt ending to all that my life had been for 10 years.  All that I had known, all that we worked so hard to build...it suddenly seemed very dispensable. 
It was horrific. 
It was cold that week and snow had freshly fallen.  The house seemed so big, airy and open.  The kids weren't even in school yet so looking back, I'm not quite sure how I managed to make it through the days with them.  I remember rocking Mabel a lot because she had already started her screaming for the year.  I remember listening to worship music and willing myself to do my hair and make up.  I remember sobbing uncontrollable sobs and aching deep inside of my bones.  I couldn't believe that this is what my life was summing up to be.  I couldn't believe that all I thought to be true was not so.  I was completely heartbroken for my children and even looking at them made me want to vomit. 

But very quickly I tried to put those emotions aside.  I learned in those first couple of weeks how to compartmentalize my feelings in a way that I had never had to do before; in a way that was practical and made me very efficient in the day to day tasks I needed to handle.   I became very good at it.  I decided that I had far more important battles to fight than begging and pleading for things to be different.  I had forgiven time and time again.  It was time to be the mom that I was created to be and that was going to be my main focus.  Mabel's days are precious and fleeting and I desperately didn't want to waste any time fighting with someone who clearly wanted an out. 
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What I truly saw while looking back over the photos from this year was a woman who depended on her God to guide her. 
I see a woman who, in the midst of great trial, reached inside and gained great strength. 
I have learned how to be alone.  With myself.  With my children.  And that is the greatest gift that I have ever been given, truly.  Knowing one's self allows for deep transformation.  My thoughts, actions, and beliefs have all been greatly altered but in ways that I know are significant to me moving forward in healthy ways. 
Speaking of healthy, I couldn't believe as I looked back at myself, how incredibly healthy this year has made me in every way.  Not only have I been cleansed emotionally-embracing both the good days with the bad (because there are definitely still bad days), but also physically.  I have changed and I am strong.  At first, stress helped me shed an intense amount of weight but then gradually I put back on the pounds that I now affectionately refer to as 'happy weight.'
This year brought so much clarity.
Within the first month of our lives changing so drastically, I was shocked by the changes that occurred in every area of my life.  Most importantly I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring and support of my truest friends.  They stood by my side at events that were difficult to face alone.  They sat beside me in the attorney's office, doctor's appointments, beachside and on the kitchen floor. 
 
 There were friendships that quickly exited my home and my heart in the dark days of this week last year but looking back, I know now that they were dismissed so easily for a reason.  And I am thankful for those who pushed harder than ever to be at my side when I truly thought I would never survive.
This year brought about in me a confidence that I had never experienced before.  I was brave, bold and certain in all of my decisions.  I was passionate about clearing my head and heart.  I took time to re-center and re-focus. 
This year I smiled more and worried less.  I can't tell you how many times someone has told me over the past 365 days how happy I look.
And it's true.  I am.
My hair has been blonde and my hair has been dark but this year proved one thing to me over and over again: 
When all else fails, paint your lips a bold shade of something and walk out the door. 
You're sure to feel sexy and put together even if your world has completely fallen apart. 
Trust me, it works. 
This year I took time for myself. 
I asked for help and actually allowed it. 
Over the past year I continued to fight for my Mabel girl. 
She cried for 10 months straight without ceasing until finally the dr's agreed to try a new medicine that saved our lives [literally].  I was clear-headed enough to do what I needed to do for her and that just reminds me how incredibly strong we, as humans, can be. 
 
I didn't know how consumed I was with worry while living in my own marriage.  I didn't know that my days were stressful because they were mine and it was 'normal.'  I loved my life and I would have fought hard {and I did} to keep it the way that it was, but I can say with certainty that everything happened exactly like it was supposed to happen. 
 
Somehow, I was given a second chance at being exactly who I was created to be in this beautiful life and in looking back over this year I see a 'me' with much less stress added to my features. 

This year has been unbelievably difficult for my children and I never want to diminish that by acting as if I have never been happier because that just isn't true.  I have been happy in every single part of my life journey.  I chose to have these children with a man that I loved very much and I would have given anything for it to have all turned out differently, but it just didn't.
 
So what I hope that they can look back and see in the eyes of their mother through this post and these photos is the strength of someone whose heart was shattered but who decided not to be defeated.  The courage of someone who knew she had to get up and live bravely for them and who owed it to herself to go even beyond that. 
I didn't want my legacy to simply be that of a tired, defeated, heartbroken woman. 
I wanted to wake up every day and dance.  I wanted to plant my flowers, take long walks, eat good food, sing funny songs, and tell funny jokes with my children. 
I wanted to love life in the days after their dad left just as much (or even more) than I did during the days when he was here.
I was determined to shed the feeling of rejection and hurt {that inevitably still lingers} because I wanted Nora to see that she is always worth fighting for.  I wanted to put myself out in the world and give myself the chance to love again because I wanted them to see the way that I deserve to be treated, and in turn the way that they do. 
I have never felt more beautiful, more capable or more open as I have in the days of this year.  I have mastered the art of being a single mom and, in fact, quite enjoy it.
I look back at the seasons of this year and I see all of the new memories that we have made.  They make me smile and yet it is definitely (and probably always will be) peppered with a sadness of what once was, mostly for the children. I look ahead knowing that our days are unbelievably bright in the future.  We are capable of anything.  After all, we have each other. 
 
This year I opened myself up to the possibility of a future alone or the possibility of a future with someone new.  I explored, within myself, what that may look like. 
And then somewhere in the midst of my summer days I found myself in a place where I realized that loving again was a very true possibility.  I made a real effort to pull back from social media and allow myself and my children a privacy that we didn't have for years.  I embraced the newness of a relationship that I hadn't felt since I was quite literally a child myself and in doing that, I found new parts of myself that had been hidden away.  In discovering them, I found more of me and I have never been more grateful. 

I allowed myself to feel loss and love combined this year.  I allowed myself time with my family that I had otherwise devoted to other things in the past.  I allowed myself time to grieve and time to mourn, but not too much.  Only sparingly. 
As always, it still comes in waves because life is constantly changing and the reality of that sets in when we least expect it to.  But in embracing it, I can certainly say it is freeing. 


This year I have allowed myself the chance to be both vulnerable and closed off. 
I have remembered the old and celebrated the new. 
I have watched my children hurt and suffer in ways that I wish I never would have had to and yet they are happy.  I am so proud of all I've done here to make sure that we are all ok and although it's different from day to day, overall I see children that love one another, love God, and are learning really valuable lessons.  Although young, I just hope that they can embrace them now so that they can utilize them later in their lives. 


Who I am today is a much better version of myself than I was one year ago. 
I am happier.  Healthier.  Stronger.  More articulate.  More centered.  More giving.  More patient.  More accepting.  More quiet.  More open.  And much more forgiving. 
 
I have talked so much here about my 'journey' with Mabel but ultimately that journey was part of a much bigger one:  the journey of my life.  This chapter was so difficult and so heartbreaking but it was not the ending to the story.  In fact, I know that the days leading me through this life will be sprinkled with all sorts of ups and downs, ins and outs.  I know that there will be heartache and suffering but also goodness and joy.  I know that there will be great loss and also great hope.  I know now, without a doubt, that there is a God who has His hand upon our hearts at all times in order to guide us, protect us and love us.  I know for certain that there are people who dip in and out of our lives for a certain season and that it's ok.  I completely accept every single part of this journey, exactly as it is and not how I once thought it should be. 
 
In doing so, I truly believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. 
One year ago today, I thought that my life was over.
And then I decided that I just wanted to see it begin again.
 
That it has, friends.
That it truly has. 

8 comments:

Ashleigh Rinkenberger said...

No words necessary. Just lots of these
<3 <3 <3

Jessica said...

<3 You are beautiful, inside and out.

Janice said...

You continuously inspire me...to embrace the beauty in my life...to be more bold and daring...to love myself as I am. Thank you.

Tina said...

I hope you won't think it's a strange thing to say, but I am proud of you. Truly.

Tracy said...

I have never commented before. I'm not sure how I found your blog and stopped in a few times. I MUST say: You are beautiful! You are inspiring! You are wise!
You are a great Mother. You are strong, faithful, loyal, articulate, solid. You are more. You derserve the best. I'm glad I found your words, I will hold on to them and use them in my life.
Thank you for sharing.

ELAINE BRAND said...

As always, your gift with words is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with us all! Hugs, Love, & Prayers for you all!!!

Monique said...

You have inspired me in so many ways. Wishing you the best as you continue your life journey.

Bree said...

I received your blog info from a women I'm conversing with as my son was diagnoses with Batten (late infantile) on July 30th, 2013. I'll be reading up on your blog! Praise God for the hope that lies in Him and Him alone! Blessings, sister

BreeLoverly.com