What my 25 year old Self learned through Divorce…

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This is an article I  wrote for the Huffington Post blog series Divorced by 30, I hope they accept it!!

 

I have always tried to be honest about my shortcomings. Tried to be aware and perceptive about my faults, what I needed to work on, where my weak spots were; but that does not necessarily mean that I have always faced them with grace or dignity or that I didn’t push others in the forefront to hide mine. I am human and stubborn and many times I screamed that it wasn’t my fault, there were times I didn’t listen, that I didn’t fight fair that I fought to win, that I just wanted to be heard and  didn’t listen, didn’t learn. I am guilty of all of these things, of saying hurtful things when I was angry, of walking away instead of listening, but I never stopped trying.  I can honestly say I never gave up on the hope of love. The love that we as little girls are spoon-fed, told over and over in our books, cartoons, movies, that we will be saved, swept away by Some guy who will be our perfect match, our soul mate.

I met my so called knight in shining armor when I was 21, it was Halloween 1996 and I was out celebrating at a local dive bar with my friend Andrea. I will never forget seeing him through the smoky haze of the bar and then gathering up the guts to walk up to him; I was so nervous, hands shaking, he was so handsome, and I thought so out of my league. But he just smiled up at me with such a big smile and said absolutely when I handed him my number, asking him to give me a call sometime. He was beautiful this boy I would love, who I would lose myself so completely in that it would take me 4 years to get back up, gain my strength and be me again.  We had so many fun times but we were young and young love never seems to have that lasting stick, it seems instead to be all about heartbreak and lessons. I married this one though, because I wanted it to be forever and at 23 that word, forever, was obtainable.  At 40, I wonder if there is such a thing, forever love.  We were young, passionate, and stubborn and though we loved each other, love it seems is never enough. After two years together and living together for one of those, we ran off to Las Vegas. Young lovers on an adventure,  just us and there was something about us doing it alone that added to the excitement. Afterwards though I felt cheated of a real wedding, no family or friends to celebrate with, no dress, champagne or cake. It also created a strain with his large Hispanic family who felt even more cheated than me at not being a part of our getting married. We lived happily for a year, but reality always has a way of creeping in and it just became too hard to hold ourselves together. He cheated, and I was broken, and our story ended, though not so easily.  There was many tears, late night phone calls, and showing up and driving by places just to catch a glimpse of him.  I was a mess, even though I did initially leave and was the one to file for the divorce; but I felt so betrayed and I knew deep down that I deserved so much better than what I had been dealt. My Dad did not agree with my choice of divorce,  he was catholic and believed marriage was for better and for worse. He never realized how hard it was for me to make the choice I did as my Parents were still married, and stayed married for 48 years till he passed away this past August. I wanted that, that forever kind of love.

Being divorced at 25 is not easier than being divorced when you are older, but it does leave you with a certain young freedom; for when it comes to loss we reach a bottom through our grief, our heartbreak and so we sense we are free since we have nothing left to lose, becoming reckless, free in such a dark sense.  I think society is more forgiving of the drunk, sobbing hot mess of crazy at 25 then it is at 40.  I can say now that I am glad I got divorced, but back then I thought my world had collapsed and I was so completely broken and lost. I am able to look back now, 15 years later and see that it was never going to last. We were two young kids playing house. We were loving each other as an escape, not as a way to grow and evolve in a true partnership. We had different hopes, ambitions; we were raised in completely different worlds. We did not spend the time talking about our future, kids, our fears, and our hopes. We just loved each other blindly, thinking this was enough, but it never is. Divorce is sadness at its most poignant; it is a depth of heartbreak that changes you, changes the way you look at relationships, for you have seen first hand that happily ever after love doesn’t always last, at least it didn’t for you. I learned from being divorced at 25 that love is hard, raw and breaks your heart, but the truest form of love holds your hand through the shitty times and loves you through the hard times. Loves you even when your not lovable, Loves you when the passion fades, the sink is full of dishes and your looks are waning. The truest form of love stays, even when its hard. I grew because of my divorce, it changed me, it made me aware of myself and what my worth was. I realized that I had to believe I deserved that kind of love, and that being afraid of losing it everyday, holding onto it so tightly just crumbles it to dust that blows away when you open your hand.

 

 

The Strength we find, The Lessons we Learn…

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Life is meant for us to be broken open, the core parts of ourselves faced to ultimately become what we were meant to be. I am trying so hard this year to understand and learn from all the curve balls the universe has thrown at me. I had such high hopes that this year was going to be the year. A Job that paid well, promised me advancement, a relationship that I thought was finally the one; full of love and respect, a city I had dreamed about living in since I was a teenager. Its ironic that what I thought was my dream became my nightmare. I never thought moving to Portland would be my undoing, but that is what it has become, breaking me open and stripping me to naked vulnerability. It seems like yesterday I stood in my new driveway, a grin from ear to ear, completely in love with arms of security wrapped around me. Today I stood in that same driveway, drizzly rain making my hair frizz and my sweater damp. I still wake up sometimes thinking that it was just a dream and I will laugh at the universe, but reality always sets in and my arm falls onto the cold side of the bed.

It seems the year is not yet done as I lost another piece of my heart this past week, my beautiful soft grey fur kid, my beautiful Isadora. She was my soul pet, I bottle fed her as a kitten when I got her at 4 weeks old. I remember the day she became mine was a full lunar eclipse, and so I named her Isadora, which means “gift from the moon”. I guess its only fitting, some kind of cosmic circle that I lose her on a lunar eclipse.  I had 13 years with this amazing creature and I will miss the smell of her fur, her purring as she slept next to my head every night.  I yelled at the universe tonight, I told it I only have two things left that I love in this damn world, my dog and my mom so please leave them. I think that when we lose one parent we become hyper vigilant in our fear of the loss of the other. We look around at what else we have to lose and we worry so much about those losses, maybe as a way to cover up the grief we are trying not to feel. The cake topper of this last 6 months is I found out 5 days after losing my Isadora that I have squamous cell carcinoma, skin cancer, though it is treatable and by itself would not be as scary but after the past 6 months the news really rattled me. My hand shaking in my work cube as I listen to my dermatologist tell me the next steps we need to take. I felt weak as I let the tears come, allowing myself to be afraid. I decide at that moment I will no longer live with fear in my heart.

I have come out fighting, swinging at the universe.  I did not break, I did not blow away in the wind, I stand firm and I am learning to bend and sway, I am surviving.  So instead of losing my strength, my grace, my hope I am screaming into the wind “I am not surrendering, I will not break!! I have found an inner strength I didn’t know I had, a gift of writing hidden deep, I am accepting my journey and not looking to the end. I was told by a wise friend that I was the “grass is greener” girl, always looking to the next job, the next place I was going to live, that it would be better there; but what I have learned is that by living that way you never get to love and experience the moments, the job you may hate but may still hold many lessons or the amazing people you met by moving to that crappy city. I was never able to just be in the now, to be still and at peace with where I was in that moment. I lied to myself, saying it was my ambitious nature, to always strive for more. In reality it was a safety mechanism of not having to live, not in the moment, it was fear winning.

I printed out a quote from the Dalai Lama and I look at it everyday. I am learning to accept and live in this moment and feeling, embracing everything, even the negative feelings, the scary ones. I can no longer run, I can no longer hold his hand or lay my face on his chest at night, or fall back on the strength of my father, bury my face in my cats soft fur, sit at my aunts kitchen table and discuss my family history, or drive my trusty Durango that has taken me to everyplace I have lived since leaving home. I have been broken open and forced to learn acceptance, release, and ultimately letting go.

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I have made a promise to myself, not to anyone else, not anymore, just to my heart. I will accept my challenges, I will face them with grace, kindness and compassion. I will grow and learn through these lessons, I will feel what I need to, accept what I must and change what I have the power to change. I am a survivor, and that is what we do, for we have no other choices, giving up is not in our vocabulary. We are all given choices, crossroads, forks in our paths, challenges, encounters and it is up to us who we choose to be at that moment and how we respond, with anger, selfishness and bitterness or with kindness, empathy, gentleness and compassion. I have and will always strive to do the latter but I am human and I have slipped and chosen the angry path at times. Though I am now learning that I do not have the capacity for that anymore. I can not take others anger and their lessons, I can’t even take mine.

I end this Post with the hope of new beginnings, that as each door is closed another is opened. New places, new adventures, new friends, and maybe even a new love if the universe deems me worthy. I hope for everyone who is reading this, everyone who is struggling, that they find their inner strength. That you choose to not give up, That you choose the hard path, choose to find and accept your lessons, to evolve and become your higher self. That you choose Love, Laughter, Kindness, Empathy, Compassion, Understanding, and Acceptance. Love and Light to the universe, even if it sucks big at times….

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