Even though my husband went to work very early, I would make him promise to kiss me each day before he left, even if I was still fast asleep. He once told me that he often felt bad waking me but I would insist he did because it made me so sad, the thought of him and I going off into the world for the day, having not kissed each other goodbye.
On one very ordinary day earlier this year, in the dark early hours of the morning, I felt his kiss upon my cheek and moments later I heard the sound of the front door slamming shut. I got up, brushed my teeth, made the bed and began my day not knowing that my life was to be forever changed from that day on.
That day a vortex was opened in my life that sucked so much of what I held dear away from me. It robbed me of my marriage, my husband, my security, my hopes and dreams and my identity.
Each day since, I have lived through unrelenting cycles of grief, shock, longing, confusion and fear. Each day since, feels like it has been spent climbing mountains, keeping my head above the rising tide and searching for a glint of light in a never ending darkness.
So much awful has happened within this year, it can be hard to spot the good. I have felt like a tree that has been violently pruned and left bare and lifeless. However, it is only now, on the edge of entering the new year, that I can see that this tree is far from dead and useless but rather, it’s bare branches are loaded with potential and new hope. It holds promises of new life, new fruit and new possibilities.
I would like to share with you some of the things that I have learned this year, what I like to call the gifts that I wouldn’t give back.
1. We are stronger than we realise.
I once viewed myself as vulnerable, as if I would break if I were to be bent or pushed to such a degree. I have come to find a new respect for the human spirit and it’s ability to withstand the most violent of storms. There is an innate instinct within us to survive. There have been times I have been brought to the brink and felt like I had nothing left within me but somehow a strength has been ignited from deep within which is giving me what I need to carry on.
2. I am enough.
This is a strange one, as ironically my husband leaving me for another person could have sent me the signal that I wasn’t enough. I look back at myself in the marriage and see years spent trying to be what he wanted me to be, years of not really feeling worthy of his love, not thin enough, not ambitious enough, not adventurous enough, not wearing the right clothes. Where did it get me? The reality is, he didn’t deserve me or my love. From now on, I will stop. Stop trying to be what others want me to be. I will accept that I am enough. I accept who I am and who I am is just fine.
3. The ones who really love you are the ones still standing there with you.
I have found a new appreciation for my family who have literally kept me afloat during this time. At a time when I felt the most insignificant and unwanted that I have ever felt in my life, they went above and beyond to make me feel so truly significant, wanted and loved. That type of love brings about a healing for the soul. Their love is a genuine, unbreakable and reaffirming one that remains when all else has gone. It has been my biggest blessing.
4. Opening up to people can bring healing.
When you open up to people about your experiences, they will open up to you. On this foundation, amazing connections can be formed. I have made wonderful new friendships during this time and also reinforced and strengthened long term friendships that have been such an amazing source of support to me. I have posted before about living inside out, living with my vulnerabilities laid bare. When you leave yourself exposed like that, you feel compassion and comfort all the more sensitively. This has changed my whole view of people in general and has deepened my connection to others.
5. Everything we need to be happy is within us, not within another.
What if we were to understand that so much of what we need can be found within us? How would that change the choices we make, the treatment we accept and the standards we live by and measure others by? I am starting to understand that I possess many of the qualities that I looked to my husband to provide. I always did. I am capable, I am strong and I can make a good life for myself, I can find happiness. I want to cultivate this relationship I am finding with myself. If we don’t realise that we can be this whole package, we risk giving too much power and importance to the people we connect ourselves to. When my husband left me, I felt like he took so much with him, that I was left as only half a person. I know better now and in the future, whether I’m in a relationship or not, I will always remember that everything I need to be happy is within me.
6. Life is a gift.
When my husband first left me, I kept thinking to myself (as dramatic as this might sound), that if I were to die tomorrow, it would be so sad that this is how my story ended; heartbroken and pining for a love that left me so coldly. If our life story was like a jukebox and we had one coin, what song would we really want our life to be? I realised I didn’t want it to be some heartbreaking and woeful song but rather, a song of triumph, hope and of the ultimate come back. For me, the first song that comes to mind is Bruce Springsteen’s, ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ I listen to the words of this song and know that I want it to be the soundtrack to my story. I want people to see that despite the hurt and pain, I didn’t give up, I went for it and danced again, seeking out that fire and passion for life, even in the darkest of days. I have realised how precious life truly is and I am determined to welcome joy and goodness into it again. Life is happening, this is not a rehearsal.
7. Time really is a healer.
When people say this to me, they always follow the sentence with, “Sorry, I know that doesn’t help you right now and it sounds cliche.” Each time I correct them and say, “No it does help and it’s not at all cliche, it’s comforting.” It really is comforting because if we allow ourselves to believe it, this might be the first spark of hope we can hold onto. That in time, the impact of the hurt or loss will in some way get easier to bear and I can tell you in all honesty, that it actually does. It’s been several months for me and already I am feeling stronger, everything feels ever so slightly less raw and overwhelming. Please hang on, no matter how overwhelming the grief and pain can feel, as even though you may not feel it now, time will help heal those wounds so that you can go on.
8. Here is the final and most important lesson I have learned. I am nothing without God.
In God all things are truly possible. He is the answer to it all. He has a plan for me and as scary as it all is, he holds me safe in the waiting. He has taught me surrender, reliance and hope. He has shown me that when everything looks like it’s in ashes, new beauty will come. I don’t know if I would be here without His love and the love He blessed me with through my family and friends. I want to say thank you Lord for being a love that is sustaining me and that doesn’t leave me.
There will no doubt be difficult times to face in 2019 but I wanted to take a moment to look back at the things I have learned and share them with you all. It hasn’t been a road I have wanted to travel down and I am forever changed because of it but I have to acknowledge these important life lessons that I am so so thankful for, they really are the gifts that I now wouldn’t trade for the world.
I hope it is of encouragement to you that no matter what we face, even these difficult curve balls that are thrown at our lives, we can overcome.
I am praying that you will all have a fantastic 2019 and that you will be blessed with so much goodness and happiness in the coming year.