It’s been almost one year since my last post. I have at least 9 unposted drafts, which I started but never finished. I have had a LOT on my plate and on my mind. Some people have told me I should have been posting during all that’s been happening, but I’ve felt like I’ve had so much to focus on that I couldn’t effectively nail down ONE coherent thing to articulately write about. I have had some time to sit down and reflect on all of it. I’ve taken a look at the past year as a whole, gained some insight, and am finally ready to let it out, and move on.
Do you know how you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
You might want to grab a seat, make a sandwich, and pour yourself some wine (or whiskey).. cuz this one could be a doozie.
My last post was short.. very short.
It was right after I had lost my job been fired. Yep.. Let me say that again:
I was FIRED. ..Let go.. ..Terminated..
It still makes me sick to think about.
It was the first time I’ve ever been fired (without my agreement & consent). I was DEVASTATED. I knew it was COMPLETELY my fault, and that it could have been prevented. It happened because I allowed myself to become consumed with issues in my personal life. I let thoughts about them invade my mind when I should have been focusing on work. I became obsessed. I neglected the duties I was getting paid to do, because I was too busy trying to figure out how to fix and control everything else in my life. I was given the opportunity (more than once) to speak up and ask for help. I didn’t. I sat silently, in fear. This is nobody’s fault but MINE! I have grieved this, accepted this and spent much time analyzing & correcting it, doing my best to prevent it from happening again.
Retrospectively, I can see where this loss was a contributing catalyst to another significant loss that has been brewing in my life for a long time. I’ve struggled with whether or not, or even how to write about this next subject, but I pride myself on appropriate transparency. So, since this loss is now a big part of my story, it’s something worth being transparent about.
My husband and I have been living separately for about 6 months, and are in the process of getting a divorce. Some people may not agree with, or even understand my decision to dissolve our marriage. They don’t have to. Lots of loving, well-meaning people have given me their opinions and advice. Some were helpful, and some were hurtful. And although I appreciate them all, I don’t have to accept damaging advice, no matter how well-meaning it is. I don’t judge, hate, or even dislike them for their points of view. We all see things differently and speak based our own stories and experiences. The truth is, NONE of them have lived my life, and NONE of them know EXACTLY how I am feeling. Some sympathize with me. Some even have empathy for me, but only I get to decide what is right for ME. Out of respect for my husband, my family, and the situation, those are all the details I will give about the “why” here.
Yes, I realize there weren’t actually any tangible “why” details..
that was not unintentional.
No matter what happens, he will always be the father of my children, and I will always love him in a very special way. I don’t need (or want) to bad mouth their father to them, or anyone else for that matter. We will continue to be in each other’s lives, and will have to work together to raise semi-well adjusted, decent, compassionate, contributing members of society. For me, our children’s health, happiness, and best interests will always come before any issue he and I are dealing with between the two of us.
I think I will always be grateful for this horribly painful experience & process, as it has helped me to do something that I’m not sure I’ve ever really done before.. focus on myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a way to be able to see the parts I’ve played in our issues, acknowledge my own faults, correct them, and grow. I’ve had the opportunity to realize my own needs, and decide how to go about meeting them. It’s taken me a LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time to figure out what they are. Honestly, I still don’t have it entirely mastered. ..I might not ever. But, I have a direction. I have a starting point.
I am finding that now, more than ever, I need to really listen to and take care of myself. I’m learning to use the skills I’m developing to focus on one thing at a time and put first things first. I’ve seen first hand that when you are caught up in someone else, you lose yourself. It doesn’t happen instantly. It happens gradually.. little by little, in the every day things. It is exactly what I found had happened to me. As I focused on trying to fix or change someone other than myself, things that were once important to me went by the wayside. Soon, I couldn’t even remember what was actually even important to me.. what I enjoy, what I dislike, who I am, who I want to be. What once seemed happy and blissful, was hollow and empty. A smile was just a mask I wore, and I felt like a shell of a person. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the reflection staring back at me. The reflection I should have been paying attention to this entire time.
When life has gotten really tough for me, I’ve tried to focus on the good in the situation or in my life & hang on to it. I know that my perspective and attitude can make a BIG difference, and unlike outside forces and influences, it is something I CAN control. At some points, remaining optimistic has been EXTREMELY hard to do! I would write my gratitude lists, and refocus my energies on the positives, and that helped ..but on some occasions, that just wasn’t enough. Sometimes it helped to picture myself as a caterpillar, in my cocoon, undergoing deep metamorphosis, who would someday become a butterfly. For obvious reasons, many people consider the butterfly as a symbol of powerful transformation. The story of their creation is beautiful and inspiring. It is filled with growing pains, times of ravenous hunger, vulnerability, and moments of miraculous expansion. It helped me to envision myself in transformation rather than destruction.
I’ve often wondered if the caterpillar knows what it is doing when it enters the chrysalis stage, and what it will become. Does it know how beautiful it will be? Or does it surrender to the fact that it has served it’s purpose as a caterpillar, can no longer survive as one & takes a leap of faith into an unknown destiny? Either way, the caterpillar does create it’s cocoon and begins the process of change. It breaks down almost entirely, leaving only the vital pieces, and forms a new creature inside it’s protective shell. What I find so inspiring about this magnificent insect, is that so much of it’s journey has to be done independently. In order to survive the transformation & thrive, the butterfly MUST emerge from this cocoon ITSELF. It must struggle to push it’s way through the tiny opening of it’s cocoon. This pushes fluids out of it’s body and into it’s wings, allowing them to develop properly. As painful as it can be to watch, if you try to help, you could prevent the butterfly from ever being able to fly. I believe this is such a valuable lesson for us to learn as friends. Sometimes, the best thing we can do to help someone who is struggling is to let them struggle, and allow them to grow and transform themselves.
Give them the chance to learn how to fly.
The reality is I can no longer survive as a caterpillar. This life stage has served it’s purpose, and prepared me for the next. I don’t know what the future looks like, and getting there sometimes looks daunting and scary. Walking this journey has been a long and painful process. Although I am certain not all the pain is done, I am confident there is much joy to come. I know that as long as I focus on what I need to be doing for today, I will emerge a beautiful, healthy, strong butterfly. ..and THAT is something I look forward to! I also know that not everyone likes butterflies, but I find comfort in remembering that not everyone has to.
I’m not perfect. I’m still a work in progress.
..and that’s ok.