“When he says, "I love you, honey," you realize that he never calls you by your name. You will say good-bye for all the right reasons. You're tired of living in wait for his apocalypse. You have your own fight on your hands, and though it's no bigger or more noble than his, it will require all of your energy. It's you who has to hold on to the earth. You have to tighten your grip- which means letting go of him.” ~The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

It is time for an annual reflection. I speak not of the type of self analyzing that most individuals embark on at year end, but of a reflection born from the verdict I handed down upon my own marriage a year ago. While I had known the outcome of said union for quite some time, this week marks the anniversary of the attorney visit where paperwork was drawn and subsequently filed. Oh, I had visited attorneys before … on at least two prior occasions … and had still attempted to persevere. Why? The reasons are long and varied: fear, my children, hope, and stubbornness … stupidity. Whatever. Point being: I finally made the decision and followed through. It has been a year since I filed for divorce. Regrets? Nope. 

It’s been an interesting ride … this last year. I moved out on January 1, 2007 so the “new year” was truly a new beginning for me. The first couple of months were marked with numerous visits by the soon-to-be-ex in an attempt to convince me that I was making a mistake. I got so tired of his need to rehash everything. I refused to waiver. Eventually, he stopped. I realized after only a short period of time that I had become painfully lonely over the course of my twelve-year marriage. Somehow (and I still don’t fully understand it), I had manage to ostracize myself from the friendships that meant the most to me. I am sure I was probably hiding. 

So, with my head bowed in shame, I began the process of rebuilding relationships which, it turns out, were not as fragile as I had thought. Unfortunately, not one of you people lives near me. Go figure. I constructed a barbwire fence around my heart as protection against one who has threatened to move in repeatedly for sixteen years. (This is a long, long story.) 

I began to heal. I found forgiveness within myself for things that should have been forgiven many years ago. I forgave him, them … and myself.

I found the greatest church ever and it has become my lifeline. It is a true community. 

I, for the first time in many years, have stayed faithfully medicated even during the times where I was so weary I wanted to give in to the temptation and allow the manic side of me to take over for a while. (Newsflash for those who may not know: I’m bipolar.)

I rapidly let down all barriers way too quickly and allowed myself to be painfully vulnerable. Yes, that was one big mistake that will never be repeated. 

I tried, desperately, to get out of this town. God has kept me here. I know not why. We’re still arguing about that one. 

I have grown closer to my children. Painfully, they spent six weeks of the summer with their father where I only got to see them on a couple of occasions. Agony. 

I joined my parents in a trip to Pennsylvania to spend a tormenting afternoon watching my grandfather (my last surviving grandparent) take his last remaining breaths. We then stayed several days for his funeral. In doing so, I discovered that I truly care about relatives that I haven’t seen or communicated with in 10, 15 …. even 20 years. I am not disconnected. 

I realize, despite everything I have been through, that I am still a romantic and believe I will find my great love. Someday. 

I have been “welcomed back” by many as I have rediscovered myself and my strength. 

It has been a good year. It has not been without “ups and downs” but I have been able to rely on myself … trust myself … and that, my friends, is a good feeling. Now, however, I am at crossroad where I stand wondering, “What comes next?” I have taken the time that I needed to heal. I have reevaluated those things that I want from life. There are several paths that need to be taken, but I have yet to determine the order. I can’t do it all at once. What I can do is take a step forward. I can no longer simply exist. I must knock on some doors and see which one opens first. 

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.’Which road do I take?' she asked.'Where do you want to go?' was his response. 'I don't know,' Alice answered. 'Then,' said the cat, 'it doesn't matter.'" ~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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