Yesterday I turned a year older. Ladies & Gents, this chick is now THIRTY-FIVE. WOW. It’s so weird to see that sentence. In some ways I feel like I should be shopping for my prom dress, not tap shoes for my daughter. Or batman underwear for my son! That he may or may not keep on. In other ways I feel like I’ve lived enough experiences to be 50 years older. I could say I’m 85 and just look awesome for my age 😉
Luckily, I’ve had enough experiences lived to feel happy to be at this point in my life. I had no idea growing up that I would have experienced any of the things I’ve lived through, especially the bad. I believed the myth that everyone is inherently good and only the good, expected things would happen. I naïvely thought that I would graduate from high school, go to college, meet someone who would sweep me away and love me forever, a baby or 2 would be involved, then that would be it. Smooth sailing ’til the good Lord called me home. But looking back, that’s what shaped me: the stuff in between, the curve balls, the shat I would have avoided had I known what would happen. Without it, I wouldn’t be a survivor. And I wouldn’t have a voice. A voice I can use to tell others who are living through it now that everything will be ok. Maybe even better than ok.
Eight years ago, I was turning 27. My daughter was just over a month old. I was living in a small town on the Puget Sound in WA. I had 2 friends close by. That was it. I was an Army wife. My husband was having an affair and at that point not even trying to hide it from me. My parents were 3,000 miles away in Atlanta, GA. My dad was still in the hospital from having a stroke 2 months prior that he wasn’t even supposed to survive. This birthday was the worst birthday I’d ever lived through. It was my country song birthday. Even my family dog died on my birthday that year. Thank God Vicki didn’t go to jail that year. Hear that, mom?
3 months before, I talked to my dad at least 4 times a day. 3 months before, my dad would end every phone call by asking me if I was ready to come home. He knew something wasn’t right. Parents know. My mom would have been on the next flight if I’d just said the words. But, I’m a stubborn asshole. I got myself and Bella into this mess, I’ll get us out. And I did just that. I knew that eventually things would be ok. But I couldn’t have imagined how much better than ok life would get.
So, here I was with a new baby, thousands of miles away from my family and friends, and a rocked world. I was at a proverbial crossroads. Stay and I would have become dead inside. Years of emotional abuse had taken its toll. The spark that was flickering away would have fully extinguished and never returned. I would have become a victim of circumstances. I had to leave. I was a shell of myself. I didn’t feel loved or wanted or cared for by the one person who promised to protect my heart for the rest of his life. And it pissed me off. That anger would take me down one of two paths. I could have spent the rest of my life in a bitter, black cloud of hate or I could use that energy to drive me forward and come out on the other side much wiser. But also with severe trust issues and a sharper edge. You’re welcome.
The worst part looking back at that birthday was how close I was to allowing someone to break me. There were plenty of moments when I felt broken. Irreparably broken. The things that happened don’t seem believable now.
For example, I spent my anniversary eight months pregnant and alone that year because my ‘husband at the time’ told me he had to go on a training assignment. He’s a Green Beret so seemed plausible. However, watching him pack, something told me that I wasn’t true. Luckily, he’s too dumb to realize how smart I am. So I pulled our phone records once he left and started calling numbers I didn’t know. Then SHE answered the phone. He was with HER. A few minutes away. On our anniversary. While I was at home alone eight months into a high risk pregnancy.
When I was 9 months pregnant, my dad had a stroke and wasn’t expected to live. So my then-husband flew home with me in case I had issues. He left me in the ICU with my dying father so he could go out with a friend who ended up being a girl friend who was not the OTHER WOMAN. He showed up to my mom’s house drunk at midnight. Classy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Why didn’t I leave? I felt stuck. Looking back, I wasn’t. But I felt like I was. I had a good job in a high-demand market. I had options. Everyone has options. But I couldn’t see them. Then, one Sunday, I stopped praying for help and started listening for direction.
I applied for a job in Atlanta, had 2 phone interviews and was hired. The company even helped pay to move me back. It ended up a dream job. I spent a year and a half alone to get to know my baby girl and get us on our feet. We had a beautiful apartment in the perfect location.
Once my divorce was final I was able to breathe. I started to notice how lonely I was. Something I hadn’t allowed myself to acknowledge before. So, fast forward 8 years… I not only have a husband, I have a partner. I have a best friend. It’s not perfect. But life isn’t perfect! There isn’t a perfect person out there for anyone. How boring would that be?! Instead, I found someone better than perfect. I found someone who is willing to navigate life with me and evolve with me into something better than I thought possible. He promised me the future and has never made me question whether or not that promise might be broken. We respect each other. We celebrate each other’s successes.
I can show him the wings God gave me and he doesn’t try to clip them. Sometimes they smack him in the face on accident but he just knows I can be clumsy with ma wings. He knows God blessed me with strong, beautiful wings to lift others up, not so I’d fly away. And the deep marks left from the attempts of others to clip my wings… Scar tissue. You don’t like your situation? Unleash those wings and do some damage. The aftermath may be beautiful.