The past year of my life has been deeply personal for me, as is the matter of what I am choosing to write about today. But I guess that if you consider yourself a writer, it's that deeply personal stuff that really exposes you and therefore becomes the epitome of "raw" material, right?
A little over a year ago, I made some pretty big changes. Changes that I didn't expect to be as huge or to last as long as they did- but that also contributed to making them so impactful in the grand scheme of things. I had been dating someone with whom things, I thought, were headed down a good path. We had talked a lot about "the future" of our relationship, and so I felt comfortable that things would progress in that direction. I was living in the same apartment that I'd lived in for nearly half a decade where I had become the most permanent fixture in a revolving door of roommates. I don't know how to explain that without making it sound like I considered myself some kind of "Queen Bee," but I will just say that when you know you're a permanent fixture in a house where people seem to pass through, you put a great amount of effort into maintaining a consistency in the type of environment that has become a Home to you.
Within a matter of one month, however, both of the things that I had found a lot of my stability in were quickly dismissed. I guess they were both things that I should have seen coming... but I hate change and have a tendency to avoid seeing it's inevitability sometimes. I had been having some issues with the people I lived with, as well as issues in my relationship, that nearly simultaneously came to a head. I wont go into detail because it's not good to dwell on the past, but in both scenarios I had decided that it was time to make my exit. So I packed up and moved to a new house, and I went forward into what would be the longest time I had been single in almost a decade.
As for the living situation, I moved in with a friend and her 4 year-old daughter. The things that had been issues for me in my previous house were no longer problems, and I was sublimely happy for that. Everything about living with them was great, but there is something to be said about living in someone else's home. Going from a place that felt like mine into somewhere that I felt I was more of a renter was surprisingly tough on me. I think it also had a lot to do with the fact that I was nearing 30 and yet living in a room for rent, much like a college kid trying to get by. It's nothing against my friend or her daughter, but it began to make me feel kind of depressed to be as old as I was and not having a space that was at least equally mine the way I had before. The only room that I felt I had really made my own was my bedroom, and that was really hard for me to feel like an adult while living in a space that was someone else's. If that makes any kind of sense. But as with everything else that seems "hard" in life, it became a really good thing for me. I had to learn to let go of some personality traits that I had acquired from living in a house with new people passing through all of the time. Things were no longer on my watch, not that they ever SHOULD have been in a house with other people, and I had to let go of a lot of the control issues that I think I acquired from my previous living situation. You try telling a 4 year-old that she should be cleaning up after herself better! She's a kid, and with that comes the reality that sometimes, you just have to let it go. And so one of the hard parts of the past year of my life became a huge blessing in disguise for me. Now facing my last week in that house, I can't help but feel the pangs of sadness when I think about not being able to see my friend and her daughter whenever I come home. It honestly breaks my heart, looking toward how much I am going to miss that kid, in particular.
A year ago, I went through one of the more dramatic break-ups of my life. As much time as I've spent trying to figure out why it was so tough on me, I honestly can't. It's nothing against the person, it's just that we weren't together for a long enough time to where I should have felt the upset that I did. I also think that as time went on, it became harder because it was a long time before I subconsciously allowed myself to meet someone new. For one thing (the most important thing), I wanted to make sure I was ready to date again. I hadn't had a good solid "single streak" since I was 20, and being alone had become something foreign to me. That wasn't intentional, sometimes that's just what happens. But as time went on, I realized that I'd never allowed myself to fully heal from any of the relationships I'd had. No matter who breaks up with who- it's important to sit with that and absorb it in order to learn from what went wrong. I'd never taken the time to learn who I'd become as my own person and not a part of a relationship. In a lot of ways, it was a revelation. In a lot more ways- it was incredibly lonely. And hard. And confusing. But I learned to try things on my own; going to movies and concerts alone. Going to museums alone. Learning new crafts and skills. I learned to take the time to decide my opinion on things from the latest action movie to spirituality. I learned to trust my gut and to have a firm stand on the things that are important to ME, and not to someone else.
Spending that time alone was- especially in addition to my different living arrangements- really hard for me. I spent a lot of time feeling really sad and feeling pretty lost. I watched Eat, Pray, Love a LOT. I knew that I was trying to become something better than I was, but a lot of that time felt like I was walking through a dark tunnel and only knew the way I had come- and it often crossed my mind to head back that way because I was certain that I had made a wrong turn somewhere. Shouldn't trying to be better... FEEL better? The thing that kept me from turning back was that knowledge that before all great change comes great adversity. I had faith that if I just stuck with it, things would eventually be alright.
In the mean time, I worked on me. I worked hard to come to peace with the idea that my life was never, ever going to be perfect. I learned to keep the small things small, and to stop letting them snowball in my mind and become mountains they never needed to become. I learned to use self-control to see my world, and that my happiness comes more from the WAY I see things- and less from WHAT I see. It took this year of feeling pretty defeated to finally break down in front of my Mother and allow her, for the first time since I was probably in diapers, to comfort me and tell me that "everything was going to be alright." And you know what? Everything is. I wont talk much about my upcoming endeavors, because I know there's a chance that they may be fleeting. But life is good. Great, really. And I think that the emotional struggle I've had for the past year contributes to my gratitude. More importantly than any of that, I think, is the comfort I take in knowing that no matter what- I've totally got this. The emotional tools I've developed over the past 12 months have helped me realize that even if it all fell apart tomorrow (although I hope it wont!), everything is going to be fine. I know how to look at my life in such a way, now, that I can readjust my attitudes about the less-than-perfect parts. And it was well worth wandering in the dark for a little while in order to discover that.