“You’ll remember it differently.” That’s what my therapist said to me while I sobbed hysterically from her couch.
I didn’t believe her.
At the time I was struggling to accept just how broken my marriage was, and my crying spells were so frequent and so violent that I was certain I’d ruptured a vital organ, maybe two. I’d lie on the floor with tears spilling down my cheeks until I had no energy to sit up and no will to try.
Between bouts of crying, I’d stare up at the hideous ceiling light that I’d never gotten around to changing. It screamed of the 80’s, bringing back memories of Aquanet hairspray, jelly bracelets and Garbage Pail Kids. But eventually my reality would always punch me square in the face, reminding me that I’d have to pull myself together long enough to make some important decisions, like whether to stay or go.
I was paralyzed with heavy questions about my future, and every answer I considered seemed to bring yet another loss. I was stuck in the perpetual damned if you do, damned if you don’t loop. Negativity became my norm, a crutch that allowed me to continue my role as a victim of circumstance. It was paralyzing. When you can’t see possibilities, you know you’re on the wrong path.
Then one day I said to myself out loud, “No matter what happens, everything’s going to be okay.”
And I believed it.
Something shifted. In that moment, I knew that I could – and would – find a way to feel alive again.
I didn’t know it then, but the next few years would lay the foundation for a complete redesign of my life. I’d discover the power of self-care and the value of investing in my well-being. I’d establish a personal brand to serve as my compass and keep me grounded. And I’d accept that I’m responsible for my own happiness. Because, let’s face it, life’s too short to live a shitty one.
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But it didn’t happen quickly. It happened over days and weeks and months.
It happened while working with personal stylist Lisa Fischer to regain my sense of self.
It happened while attending a forgiveness workshop with Brenda Reiss to understand that everything happens for us rather than to us.
It happened during a massage at Providencia Pond Retreat Center in Issaquah, WA, where I felt the unconditional love and support of women who’d been where I’d been.
It happened at Lake Sammamish, while staring up at the four bald eagles circling above me as if to remind me of my freedom and independence.
It happened at Yosemite National Park, where my problems felt insignificant next to nature’s expansive beauty.
It happened in the Mojave desert, as I drove for hours in silence with nothing but my thoughts.
It happened at the Grand Canyon, where my sorrow faded further into the dark depths of the gorge.
It happened in Austin, TX, while surrounded by friends and laughter and old memories.
And it happened on Clearwater Beach, FL where the warm air somehow also revived my heart.
Thankfully, I do remember it differently. Very differently, in fact. And that’s because I can now see that while my old life was unraveling, my new life was simultaneously being woven into something even more beautiful.
If you’re standing in the middle of a storm or even just staring at a dark cloud in the distance, know that you’re not alone. Others have been where you are and they’ve come out of the storm – battered as hell, yes – but they’ve come through it nevertheless.
Here’s what I know for sure: there are beautiful gifts waiting for you on the other side of the storm.
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