I'm looking forward to the back of this year. The first six months were hell. I spent them in misunderstood grief, anxiety about the future and resentment toward people I counted on who failed me. I spent those months adjusting to separation and considerations for my future and figuring out how bad things were and if they were bad enough to bring an end to a nearly 25 year marriage.
On July 4, Independence Day in fact, clarity came in the form of a short phrase: Growth is not health. Standing on the dirty sand beach in Avalon, Catalina, I realized that what I needed in my life right then and forever was a context of health. I needed to know that I could depend on my life—that it would be nurturing and supportive, filled with kindness and compassion. I had no more nerve-endings left for unpredictability, for one step forward and two back, for failed promises, for "mostly good except..." But how hard to muster the courage to let go!
I read a tweet by a friend later that day and have saved it (perhaps it was a talisman, but it certainly articulated what I was feeling): Choice is rarely the real issue. It's usually the consequences that seem unacceptable. Happy Independence Day.
The consequences. I had to think about that. No matter what one chooses (stay with the status quo or upend the status quo and make radical changes), there are consequences. But usually we feel most comfortable with familiar consequences—the ones that are hidden from public view or the ones we internalize. I'd played it that way for 25 years and where had it gotten me? Too many memories of how it never should be and no more heart or energy to hope or believe for the best. When you put on public display consequences you choose for yourself, you must also contend with the opinions of others, with change (which no one likes), with adjusting to an unfamiliar way of living and being, with requiring others to also make changes that they didn't initiate or want. It means, in short, reinterpreting your life both emotionally and logistically.
It also means taking responsibility for choosing, for giving up hope, for saying "This is how I want my life to be and I'm going to ensure that it is this way."
I wrote on January 4, 2009 that I wanted a whole new life. It's taken a year to figure out what that meant.
2010 looks like it will be the start of that new life. Unfamiliar, but welcome. Goodbye 2009. I don't wish you back.