Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Why 2013 was a Pivotal Chapter in the Story of Me

A little backstory if you will…….

In April of 2012, I got divorced. High school sweetheart, 11 years of marriage/5 years dating, and 4 kids under the age of 10. The rest of the year was pretty much a blur of single parenting, job hunting, and holding my shit together.

Enter 2013.  I had been a stay at home mother for eight years. On my own, I no longer had the financial luxury to do so. Needless to say, finding yourself in a small town job market already saturated with unemployment, with matriarch as the only thing on your resume for the better part of a decade, tends to set up a bit of an uphill battle. As far as education, I’m three quarters of the way through a Secondary Education degree in English/Language Arts, that I had to shelve indefinitely with the birth of my fourth child. My circumstances, an unemployed single mother of four, wasn’t exactly the recipe for a milkshake to bring all the boys to my yard, not that I was really ready for ‘dating.’ The last time I’d been on a date I couldn’t buy an alcoholic beverage and I had a curfew. My life seemed to have all the makings of every movie you’ve ever watched on Lifetime. Sadly, I didn’t have a network guaranteed happily ever after waiting in the wings. Things were hard.

Eight months had passed, and I was finally able to begin crawling out from under the avalanche of devastation and hurt that I was suffocating under. I had been operating in survival mode for my children up to that point, a master at configuring my face into a mask of happiness and crying quietly into pillows, and I started taking a good hard look at myself and what I wanted from my life. My financial burden lightened by a new job working 50 hours a week. I was 34 years old and starting over: the prospect was terrifying. My entire life, I had depended on others for my happiness. My friends, my ex. I had structured my happiness around them, made it contingent upon them. Now that I had completely lost one, and most of the other, I no longer had my bearings. Having been entrenched in a dark, bad place for so long, I struggled to remember who I was without the labels of wife and friend. I had the love and unconditional support of my three best friends, but because they are scattered across the country, it was too easy to hide the blinding, and overwhelming black that saturated everything.

I wanted to put myself back together. Stand on my own two feet and reestablish my sense of self. Learn to be okay by myself, learn to make myself happy. Self contentment and self reliance. But Christie was a missing person, and I had still yet to fill out a report indicating her absence. It was like I was drowning, and waiting for someone to throw me a lifeline when I had yet to even cry out for help. I didn’t want someone to save me. I wanted to save myself. But I finally realized, that I could tread the water in the well I was trapped in indefinitely to keep my head above water, but without a rope or a ladder, I might not ever be able to climb out.

So I opened myself up and took a leap of faith. I had a friend come into my life who kissed awake the Christie who slumbered beneath the roles of dejected wife and full time, single mother, because she was the one who would have to save me. I rediscovered who I was, and how much I liked that funny, nerdy girl with a fantastical imagination. She was entitled to things that I had stopped letting her dream of. And I now had someone in my corner that would never let her be forgotten again. How lucky, when in life, we can get what we need in a way that we want. I had someone help me see the way to help myself. And I got a lifelong friend out of it, so I count myself all the more fortunate. He is a friend that is mine alone. Without the taints of my old life, our friendship consists entirely in the boundaries of my new one. I met a couple of other new friends that I don’t have to share. Who only know this version of Christie, and happily bask in the banter of random and inappropriate text messages and snap chats.

However, real life all too often tends to be a passive aggressive choreography of one step forward, and two steps back. In August of this year, I lost my job. Though I was emotionally and mentally better equipped to deal with it, it was still a blow. But I’ve resolved to keep getting up, no matter how many times I get knocked down. The monthly budget went on a crash diet. And in the midst of some truly humbling circumstances, I found clarity. I discovered the real difference between wants and needs. And a new nearly heart bursting appreciation for the lucky days when both got met. Without some of the other ‘fluff’ of life clouding my vision and adding extra distraction, I got to see my children with the eyes that they deserved. Inconsequential things became monumental. And now there is no such thing as ‘taking things for granted’ at my house.

One of the tricky things about being a writer, is that it is literally all in your head. So when you’re head is in a bad place, it can be difficult to do.  My better frame of mind reopened the locked gates of my imagination, and the stories that live in my head could flow freely onto the page once again. And being unemployed, I now had the time to accomplish that feat in juxtaposition of my role as a single parent. So my days are spent reading, writing, blogging, and all the domestic bells and whistles. And with a new job on the horizon, I can finally accomplish the task that has become the main objective in my life: being the example of what I want my children to grow up to be.

I want my children, my daughters especially, to see me as a financially and emotionally independent woman. To know that the only person in the world that you have to rely on for your happiness and well being is yourself. If you can take care of yourself, and make yourself happy, the involvement of others in your life just adds exponentially to your existing happiness. I want them to see that you can walk away from any situation or person that is toxic and be okay. That it’s guaranteed that life will knock them down, but they are equipped with the ability to pick themselves up and continue to move forward.

I will love again. I already do. And more importantly, I realized that I never really stopped. It’s the way of my heart, which I give freely and unconditionally to my family and friends. I will be in love again. And for now, I’ll try to keep my heart safe for the person who wants to receive it as badly as I want to give it. But hearts tend to have minds of their own, and while I hope it has learned to consult my brain in all future ventures, I resolve to be brave and trust it to make its own way should it decide on a course unbidden.

Happy New Year, dear friends. Blogging has been one of my saving graces. It gave me a window to a world that I love, and the opportunity to come into your lives on a weekly basis. I hope you continue to read my story.

Happy reading. 

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