On Saturday I will celebrate a year since my ex left. A year of intense, well, everything. Growth, pain, learning, and self-discovery. Ten months of therapy, countless nights crying myself to sleep, and a grief so complex and uncomfortable that sometimes I literally thought I was losing my mind. In the end, though, I survived. I feel more like myself than I ever have in adulthood and I'm actively planning out the next steps and adventures to make this life my own.
In August, I'll be 35 years old. My therapist asked me once if I was wrestling with any lingering disappointment about my life being pulled out from under me like a rug...at this particular age, when women are expected to have married, reproduced, and settled into their careers. Queer or not, there is some societal expectation that we conform to this model. At first, I was devastated. I had internalized all of the messaging that women get from the completely toxic media, and I immediately felt like a washed up old spinster with a dead-end career, crappy relationship prospects, and absolutely nothing going for me. My divorce felt like a death, of sorts.
Time has really helped me sift through those feelings for me, and I'm not nearly as uncomfortable with my reality as I was last April, let alone the six and a half years before that. This is one of many reasons why I feel like I'm on a really amazing path. I feel happy and secure, less tempestuous and needy, and clearer than I have ever been about what I need in my life. I've discovered a lot of truths about myself along the way, too. I don't mind being alone, at all. I'm more of an introvert now than I ever was before. The suburbs are not where I need to be, and I'm beginning to more clearly see that my ex's inflexibility with moving away from them was in part what kept me miserable. They have suffocated my queer identity in ways I couldn't even begin to articulate until late last year. I have plans in the coming months to move, to start up some exciting side projects, and to authentically focus on finding my place in this world.
As a Catholic, the symbolism of my ex leaving me on Good Friday is not lost on me, nor are the words my father said to me two days later on Easter Sunday, when I told them I had been abandoned. He said, "one day you will look back at this, and it will be hard, but you will see this all as a blessing." It's a testament to my strength and conviction that I agree with him now. Healing takes time, and I'm giving myself as much as I need. I'm not old, I'm wise. I'm not washed up, I'm refreshed. I'm excited about building this life for myself on my terms again, prioritizing myself in healthy ways, and believing that my future is a unique combination of destiny and focused determination.
Before Jack Frost decided to torture us with weekly snowstorms all the way through March, my plan for the weekend was to fly kites with my bestest people on the National Mall for the National Kite Festival, conveniently scheduled on the same day my ex left. I found a quote from Augusten Burroughs that felt so incredibly poignant in light of the past year:
And I began to let him go. Hour by hour. Days into months. It was a physical sensation, like letting out the string of a kite. Except that the string was coming from my center.We're all the victims of a lot of unhealthy programming when it comes to love and relationships. I held so tightly onto the crumbling artifice of my relationship because I believed I would never get another chance to love again. But with my family and friends, I see quite clearly that love is never depleted, only renewed, restored, and given ample opportunities to grow over time...so long as I'm open to it. This year has been as much about healing as it has been about learning. Everything I went through will help me be better - love better - in the future. And it has reinforced the very significant truths that I had so much trouble believing a year ago: I need love, I deserve love, and I'm capable of loving. If that isn't a blessing, I don't know what is.