Twice this winter we have had dire forecasts that amounted to nothing.
I was looking forward to snow — mounds of snow, the air thick with snow — so much fluffy whiteness and quiet that it drowned out life for a moment. I was massively let down.
I’ve been in an interesting mindset for the past few weeks. Not quite sure where I’m going, not quite sure where I’ve come from. When you spend a significant amount of time in any situation, you lose perspective. You forget all the compromises you made along the way to get through the day. Coming to terms with that can be both difficult and humbling. It can make you see yourself in a different light.
I spent many years of my life in abusive relationships. I kept my head down. I believed if I loved enough, if I gave enough, then any obstacle could be overcome. I was wrong.
My husband is a great man. A kind man, a thoughtful man, a caring man. I walked through the fires of hell to get to him. I don’t know what changed in the universe, what realigned karmically that allowed us to meet and make things work. The timing was terrible. I mean, it couldn’t have been worse. We were painfully poor, I was unemployed. Between us we had debt that could drown better men. And somehow, we kept our heads down, we held onto each other and we — against all odds — became an unbreakable team.
We both did things along the way that broke us a little. Things to pay the bills, things to get by. We compromised our morals, we smiled in the face of ignorance and pettiness. We held onto each other in the darkest moments, and then we held onto Lucy. And we believed, unwaveringly, that we would get through to the other side.
A few years ago, after our backyard wedding and living in an 800 square foot apartment for six years, we somehow found ourselves on the other side. We paid off debt. We bought a house. We bought silly cars. We traveled to Italy, and then Iceland and then to Jackson Hole …. just because we could.
And after all of that, after all the struggle and the smiles and the massive compromises, I broke on the inside. I lost my drive. My direction. I wondered what I was doing with my life. Why I kept doing it. I justified it all. I came up with reasons. They were good, too. And they weren’t wrong. I’d done what I’d done to get to where I stood.
But once I was there, once I had the things I’d worked so tirelessly for, I couldn’t imagine continuing. I couldn’t imagine keeping up the smiles when I was so desperately, deeply unhappy.
So one would have thought that leaving that situation, walking away from all the burdens that had weighed on my shoulders for years — would make me feel infinitely better. Strangely and sadly and with much disappointment and bewilderment, it did not.
I find myself, at thirty-seven, wondering who I am, what I stand for. I don’t have children to help define me, to give me purpose. And I don’t have the career that I held onto with a vice-like grip, to help me justify the choices I’ve made across the years.
It’s these moments, this struggle for self-discovery that separates the weak from the strong. How do we rebuild ourselves following ‘the end’?