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The Path Through Darkness

When June 8 crossed my calendar, I felt a weird rush come over me. I honestly rarely, if ever, think about my ex anymore, but this date stood out on my calendar.

One year since my ex-husband decided he wanted to leave. That means that I have been divorced longer than I was married. (It sounds almost laughable to me still. But if you’re new around here, then you can catch up by reading here and here. I promise that it was not by my choice and I absolutely do not have Kardashian-esque tendencies… though I do love KUWTK as much as the next person.)

Thinking back to a year ago this week, I remember not being able to get out of the same corner of my old couch just crying all day thinking the same thought over and over. “How can I go on?” If you’ve been around for a while, you know that, even a month later, I was in a state of both shock and depression, just feeling lost for a while.

But, in the past year, I find it crazy to look back to see how I’ve not only moved on with my life… but I can quite proudly say that I’ve thrived.

In meeting with my therapist, the same one I’ve been seeing at least once a month for the past year+, we worked on some incredibly life-changing questions that have made all the difference to my life lately.

  • What are the things I actually value and need in my life?
  • What are the activities that I actually love to do?
  • What do I want to accomplish in my life?
  • What are the things that ex brought to my life that I feel like I “need” and how can those be accomplished otherwise?

These and many more. (It’s actually nice to know that I can look back on our several years together and not feel a crazy rush of emotion, positive or negative, anymore.)

But these questions became the catalyst in propelling a certain life shift forward for me. As an example, I recognized that I value and need people in my life that show empathy towards others, optimism in their life, and are honest as a sign of respect towards others. I enjoy being active out in nature, spending time with my family and friends in conversation, and relaxing in my bathtub with a great book and some candles.

Granted, it’s entirely possible that many people value these elements, but I’ve found that they’re actually just some of the many non-negotiables in my life. And, even of the few listed, several were missing for the past few years of my life.

There’s still a lot that I’m working on, most being pieces that are subconcious so that they don’t bite me in the behind in 12 years, and my life isn’t perfect. But I’ve found that certain pieces of my life have been on a crazy upward trajectory ever since I started to be thankful for so many amazing things around me.

I don’t know why or how people handle adversity or similar situations well or poorly. I’m not even sure how “well” or “poorly” would be defined, because everything is so personal in these types of situations.  But I do know that what I’m doing, and have been doing, is what feels right for me.  I’m accepting the sadness that came my way this year, moving through the muck, and I can already tell that the joy I’m feeling closer to the other end is nothing short of wonderful.

With Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade taking their lives in the recent past, it’s a sad reminder that we never really know the struggles that others are going through.  These are some of the most loved and cared for personalities in our nation that were still struggling and dealing with depression and sadness and feelings of loneliness.  And the hundreds of letters and notes I received after each of my divorce-related posts (linked above) became a personal reminder of how many people have suffered through similar situations in one way or another.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now in your life. God-willing, if you’re in a season of life where you feel like everything is going right, then send good thoughts and be willing to help those in the darkness right now, because we’re all going to have to deal with sadness one day.  I know that several of you may even see deeper depths than I can even imagine.

But this experience put me in one of the deepest, darkest holes I have ever experienced, and it showed me that we, as humans, have a lot more resilience than we give ourselves credit for.  And, when you need a shoulder to lean on, we need to have the courage to ask for help.  There is no doubt in my mind that, whatever darkness you face in your lifetime, you are not doing so alone.  Lean on others – friends, family, experts that have seen similar situations – to help you get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

I said it in my post at around the 6 month mark of this journey, and I’ll say it again… we all deal with shit in our lives, but only the strong are willing to deal with it.

If you’re here, I know you’re one of the strong ones. Life hurts sometimes because it matters. YOU matter. We cannot allow ourselves to go numb to the world because we’re in pain. The world needs you.

If you or anyone you know might be dealing with depression or thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (in the US) is 1.800.273.8255.

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