Saturday, June 21, 2014

Oh, the places you'll go

Oh, hey! Once again this blog has been neglected because of life. As so much has been happening, I almost feel I need an itemized list to play catch up. It always seems like I often turn to this blog when I have something particularly gravitas to say, and today is no exception. I pondered whether my next words were wise to share, am I revealing too much, am I treading on privacy, but I decided that one of the best legacies we can leave is a valuable lesson. This post is not going to be an amusing one, so if you'd rather have a laugh, go here instead because a lot of personal shit is about to go down. 

As I've mentioned in a previous post and as many who know me personally are aware, I've recently finalized a divorce. It's been over a year since my ex and I separated officially, but honestly, the detachment goes farther back. All I wanted was to make him happy, and for a long time, I was happy, too. I had big plans for my life, and I thought that he was beside me as I was for him in pursuit of those dreams. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but little by little, I was chipped away. A suggestion here, a critical remark there, and I began to change. For him. I don't feel that it's as important to offer specifics as it is to focus on the outcome, the bigger picture that my life eventually became.

My greatest dream was to become a veterinarian. I worked toward that future since I decided that was my goal at age eight. I worked in vet hospitals, volunteered, watched documentaries, read books, majored in zoology/pre-vet, did my internship at a wildlife rehabilitation center, you get the picture! By my junior year of college, I was getting burned out and the prospect of the cost was daunting, but nothing made that goal so wholly unattainable than this person I loved telling me, "You're crazy if you think you can handle vet school. You don't handle stress well at all." Direct quote, ya'll. Yes, I was stressing major at the time, but there is no excuse for the complete lack of support and encouragement. So, I graduated and followed him and our lives concentrated on his career, his goals. As I worked through processing my resentments after the end of our 11 year relationship, the fact that it was never my turn to follow my passions, that they were expected to be forever abandoned, that hurt me the most.

So there I was in a small town working whatever I could, supporting his vision of our life together. Without realizing it, my opinions were influenced by his, my beliefs left behind, slowly my interests and hobbies were wasting away. The reality was that he wanted someone who would stay home and be only a wife and mother, and though I dearly loved both, I yearned for a career of my own. When two people are together with two very different ideas on the roles to be played in life, it really isn't fair to either. And when you try so hard to facilitate change and your cries fall on deaf ears time and again, it's easy to give up hope. No one should have to settle for an unhappy marriage, but the truth is, I had two wonderful kids that meant the world to me, and I was afraid to yell so loud as to compromise their little lives. And though my husband was a constant source of anger, stress, and pain, I did not want to hurt him. So, I remained locked in the box he forced me into, barely socializing with friends, never going on vacation, and losing my identity. I stopped enjoying simple things that I always loved because he was so critical. I restrained from having opinions that he didn't share. He dominated conversation while I shrank into myself. I felt unappreciated, taken for granted, and emotionally neglected. My friends could see how unhappy I was, but I had no idea that I was living as a reflection in a disturbed pond, a distorted version of myself waiting for a storm to pass so that I could be whole again.

Ignorance is no excuse? I disagree. I had no idea what kind of life I was capable of. Having never experienced the sort of relationship that constituted a real partnership, how could I have known what I was missing? How I deserved to be treated? Sometimes it takes a glimpse of sunshine to realize how enveloped in darkness you've been. I had matured and changed; he had not. Our relationship had not. When I finally found the strength to face how miserable I was, I also came to the realization that it wasn't simply a matter of "too late." Rather, it was "too different." I wasn't the wife he wanted, and he wasn't the husband I needed. For years I had tried to be someone else, a reflection of this man that shared very little in common with me, and as I gained distance and perspective I felt pieces of myself coming back as if my very cells were swelling with renewed life. And when he finally moved out of the house, I felt free.

I am happier now than I ever believed possible. Yes, I struggle. Yes, I've cried. Dealing with emotions buried for years have a nasty way of rushing in at you when you finally allow yourself to face them. Yes, my kids have had questions and tears. I answer them honestly, I dry those tears, I smile, and I hug them mightily. We're doing great, and for all the worry and stress that comes with separation and divorce, I would not trade it for one more day of comfortable misery. There is too much life to waste it, and I intend to live it all.

My friends see much more of me now. I've reconnected with family. I travel more and visit old friends. I take my kids on spontaneous adventures. I read, I write, I ride, I watch scary movies, I talk about random pieces of oddness, and I plan trips that I might never take but damn it I have ambition! Above all, I am not ashamed or embarrassed about anything that makes me unique and ME. Never settle for a fragment of yourself. Never go through life with someone who holds you back. Never spend the rest of your life thinking there's something wrong with you. For all the thoughtless and oftentimes heartless words my ex said to me or  about me, nothing was as awful as the things he never said: words of encouragement without contingencies, praise without criticisms, acquiescence without guilt, or simply, "I'm proud of you."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true." I have embraced my new beginning, my fresh start, as the catalyst for change, for the closing of a circle. I have parted ways in regards to the coffee shop, and I have decided to go back to school. I will be starting online courses in the fall at St. Petersburg College earning an Associate's degree in Veterinary Technology to become a Veterinary Technician. I'm writing again, albeit more scholarship essays than anything else these days :) I have no idea what lies ahead, but I face it without fear, and I know I'm not alone. I have my amazing kids whom I couldn't adore more, my incredibly supportive family, and a wonderful boyfriend that words cannot describe how lucky I feel to have in my life. I'm confident, I'm strong, I'm basically like,


Bring it on, universe. Been there, done that, and I'm ready for the next adventure!