What’s particularly empowering in this triumphant moment is how I did it myself. I have some supportive friends but friends are not people you can lean on 24/7. And I did not run to self-helpers, or religion, or therapists. I simply allowed myself to grieve. I did not let social scrutiny, pressures or obligations get in the way of my process. Or, progress. Today is the first day in almost 750 days where my heart isn't openly bleeding. My mind is calm. My soul, at peace.
When I opened my overcrowded Inbox earlier, there was a message from the fertility center I began going to in January 2014. Normally, this would have been the beginning of a very bad day...maybe several bad days. But today, I felt compelled to share the insights from the informative email with over 4,000 followers on social media. Someone asked me about the picture I included; it had a mother's hands holding a baby's feet in the shape of a heart. And yet, tears did not well up in my eyes. There were no sobs escaping. No pain running down my right arm. I was okay. Really okay.
What relief! There will still be moments of anger, of sadness, as I continue to sift through the ruins of the past two years in the coming months, but I now know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my immutable, immovable soul has taken me through yet another vicious storm. The skies are still somehow magically blue. And it will be *mostly* smooth sailing from here. I'll make sure of it. Louisa May Alcott comes to mind....
Grief has stages. Lots of them, including acceptance. I always hated the word *acceptance*; it makes me feel like I've given up. And I never give up. My life is marked by perseverance: The last 28 (out of 44) years, riddled with things like teen parenthood (before it was made popular by MTV), single motherhood, abandonment, rape, abuse, cancer, disability, professional death, the loss of family and friends—in one 18-month period, I lost a whopping 15 of my closest friends and family members. It was like losing your platoon during war time, but there was no enemy to blame except life itself. I'd already seen my share of battles after 42 years on the planet so was more than ready for a fresh start. Part of my grief, then, was losing what I thought was my second chance. But I didn't actually lose anything. That wasn't a fresh start; it was just a false one.
How do I know???
Because, as Leonardo da Vinci said, "(S)he who is fixed on a star, does not change (her) mind." And I haven't. I still want the same things I did two years ago. Things I believed to be real, in time, proved nothing more than deliberate deceits—illusions, or what is referred to as *maya* by Vedics. You see, having my son at a young age made me grow up in many ways, but it prevented me from having crucial learning experiences in my 20's, important lessons that continue to inform a person’s life for the rest of their life. Though I was working full time, going to college full time, running a household, and volunteering as a room parent at my son’s school while coaching Little League at only 23, I had no clue about certain social situations, simply because I never got to live them. But from 42-44, I did. A crash course. Luckily, I'm a quick study.
Despite my aptitude for learning, I'll be daunted again by things like flashbacks and anxiety surrounding my last two years. There will be future moments where I will feel stuck or emotionally paralyzed. It's just part of being human. But no matter what happens, I am free…FINALLY free.
Free of the voice that pulled me back again and again. Free from being haunted by memories. Free from living people whose deep insecurities and fears dangerously blurred social AND physical boundaries. Free from what would have been a lifetime of poverty, difficulty, social isolation, second-hand smoke, as well as associative involvement with criminals and the rampant mental illness that goes hand-in-hand with such individuals. Free from destroyers. Free from financial, physical and emotional abuse. Free from lies. Deceit. Distrust. Free to move on with my life, a life I lived fully until two years ago. A life that otherwise reflects academic, professional, financial, and social achievement.
As you may imagine, my sigh of relief is more than just physical....
There is no magic reset button. I had to get through more than 300 days of fear, doubt, grief, isolation, and abandonment. But I did it. And now, I can do anything I want from here. I never have to settle for *good enough* again. I can wait. As long as it takes. My voice is my own. And I am ready to start a new adventure, a new journey...which the reader may know is not only possible but very probable thanks to my well-established track record. In other words, I'm not just saying empty words. There is evidentiary support for everything that comes out of my mouth. Every idea that flows from my pen, keyboard or touchpad.
Destroyers, however, have lackluster track records. No accomplishments to speak of—though they never seem to shut up about their phantom achievements. No formal education. No verifiable expertise. And if they do have a piece of paper testifying otherwise, it’s likely they cheated or lied in some way to get it. Ultimately, destroyers have nothing because they are nothing. All they own are their destructive tendencies. Tendencies that manifest in things like addiction—the calling card of a destroyer. Raise the red flag when you see it. Because the only thing an addict/destroyer understands is supply. Addiction permeates their entire existence. You are no more valuable than the girl at the gas station counter who fetches a pack of cigarettes. That’s why a destroyer will discard you the moment you are no longer a viable source…as if you were an empty pack of Pall Malls, mindlessly thrown in the watery bottom of an open trash barrel after breaking in to your home, stealing your stuff, and leaving you with thousands upon thousands of dollars in damages.
It is naturally heartbreaking to care for a destroyer. But you will get through it. And, you will not just survive, you will thrive. It takes time, of course, and in our world of instant gratification via technology, it's easy enough to sabotage your progress. So disconnect. Get out in nature as much as possible. Not only will the fresh air do you good, so will the sunshine. So will the sound of the wind through the trees. So will the songs of the birds. So will the blue sky. You will heal. You are built for it. Built for success. Or, you would not have survived at all.
You're not built for bouncing, though. Don't let artificial timelines guide your individual progress. Only you can judge your needs. Listen to your gut. Let it guide you. Your gut is how your soul communicates, by the way. Trust it. It's never wrong.
Keep breathing, no matter what. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, too. You will move forward. Even if you stumble or get stuck once in a while, keep going! I did. And it's taken me to the other side.
So grateful to be alive today. To have kept my fire, despite sometimes feeling insignificant. The irony? I never was. Nor ever will be. My fire is too bright, too hot, but that protects me from those who are otherwise unworthy. It makes me shine, too, while also providing light and warmth for anyone who needs it. THAT is my true joy. It’s my unique gift to the world…my purpose. And now, I’m free to live it.