Sunday, December 8, 2013

What I Learned in 2013

It's a little early to give end of year reflections - shouldn't I be reflecting on the holidays first? - but the mood strikes, so here it is: What I Learned in 2013.

Never the expected - that would be too simple.

1.  No matter how much I needed my divorce, no matter how long I prepared for it, no matter how much counseling I'd done, no matter how angry I was at my ex, no matter how certain I was that it was the right decision....getting divorced made me sad.  When I stood before a judge last January and he asked "Is this marriage broken beyond all repair?" tears obscured my vision, and I could barely whisper "Yes," as visions of my engagement, wedding, first house, pregnancy, child, family vacations, shared dreams all flashed by.  No matter how prepared you are, nothing can prepare you for divorce.  You have to feel your way through it, and there are no shortcuts.  It hurts because, well, it hurts, and there's no avoiding it.

2.  After my court date, my girlfriends took me out and helped me to celebrate my new life.  On Valentine's Day, I made a fancy dinner and had girlfriends and kids around to have a cheesy hearts and cookies kind of party.  Girlfriends called to check in on me.  I got cards in the mail - and I sent some of my own - just because.  I did weekend trips with friends (often with kids), went skiing, met at the park, went running, did happy hour, saw concerts, and my girlfriends were there through all of it.  Girlfriends make one's divorce bearable.  Girlfriends are a reminder of all that is good in the world, and they keep you grounded and sane when things seem out of control and insane.  If you've got great girlfriends, you know what I mean - so stop reading this for a moment RIGHT NOW and call them to say thank you.  And if you don't have that kind of friend, resolve right this minute to BE that kind of friend and start attracting those people into your life.  Girlfriends make everything better.

3.  Spring fever is for real, and when the buds on the trees burst forth and there is the first hint that the black tights and wool slacks can stay in the closet and sleeveless dresses can be worn without frostbite, it wakes me up, too.  This spring I learned that no matter how much "love" had made me suffer, I still wanted it.  I can't tell you how much time I spent updating my profile on OkCupid and sifting through profile after profile, message after message, looking for love.  I learned that men would be interested in me, and that I had options.  I learned that the type of man I was attracted to would be attracted to me, as well.  I have romantic options - ahhh, that's nice.

4.  I found a taste of something resembling something like love, and I learned again that love is delicious.  With Luke, I had a glorious rebound, and though when it ended I experienced the usual hurt and anger and questions (like "will anybody really ever love me?!") I have no regrets - to the contrary, I learned so much in our relationship that I feel filled with appreciation for the experience.  He reminded me of parts of myself that I'd forgotten about, reminded me of possibilities, and helped me to let my hair down.  There's nothing like romance, and it's an important part of life, worth pursuing.

5.  I learned that I still love sex, and that I've still got it (yeah, baby).  My body in my mid-forties is just as responsive as my body in my early and mid-twenties, and HALLELUJAH!

6.  I took my daughter on an airplane, rented a car, stayed in hotels, and paid for it all in cash....thus, accomplishing something impossible within my marriage, accomplishing a dream, and moving forward in my life.  I remembered that my dreams are alive and within my grasp, and that the end of my marriage opened up worlds of possibility once again.

7.  I reconnected with my physical self through exercise, and found my inner athlete, but what's more, I found new energy levels, new enthusiasm, and a new sense of connectedness within myself.  My body is capable of a great deal, and what's more, it LOVES feeling healthy.  I went from a size 8 during my marriage, to a size 6 almost immediately after my ex moved out, but running made me a size 4 almost without trying....and I can't say I don't enjoy that, because I do, but it's not the best part.  Running has reminded me that I don't know my limits, and that the impossible is actually possible.  THAT is the best part.

8.  I reconnected with nature, including a week long camping trip with my daughter and our friends, and many many hikes.  I'm a nicer person when I have regular nature time, and it's where I belong.  I live in the city, but I need nature in my life.  I'm so fortunate that my regular runs take me along the ocean, because I think that nature dose keeps me sane.  I am a nature girl.

9.  I am not responsible for my ex's actions, only my own.  Divorce did not make him who I wish he'd become, and that's okay.  Just as he can not control me, I can't control him, and letting go of that gives me much more peace than fighting it ever did.  Sure, I can still get frustrated, but letting go of my desire to make him behave reasonably is good for me.  You'd think I would have figured that one out earlier, but no.  I think I couldn't let go when we were married because his poor decisions impacted me on a daily basis, but now that he is not my partner I can witness those poor decisions without being sucked into them, and it is such a relief.

10.  I still can't control the future.  I was a great employee - my boss got a major raise and vacations because of me, and her business doubled while I was there (it had been flat growth for a couple years before I joined), but I still got laid off.  Nothing in life is certain, and it is what it is.  I still don't know how to think about that, but I am trying to find peace within it.

11.  I'm not ready for love.  I really thought I was there for a while last spring, but my most recent dating has left me (and, likely, my dates) frustrated because I am simply not in the mood for romance and I'm impatient and judgmental.  Yikes!  Realizing that it's simply not the right time has been great for me, and focusing on other things has felt right.  When it's time, it's time....and when it's not, it's not.  It'll happen.

12.  I have faith in my future.  No matter what life has thrown at me - cancer, divorce, unemployment - I am still here, alive and well, with strong relationships, a roof over my head, food in my fridge, and all the hopes and dreams in the world.  I believe in my future.  I believe that my daughter and I will grow and laugh together, that we will have great adventures, that we will be okay.  I believe that my job - the career job that I am getting closer to each day - is just around the corner.  I believe that my future holds romantic love.  I believe that I have what it takes to be successful, to be happy.

Whatever happened to you this year, what did you learn?  What lessons will you take with you into 2014?

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