Two weeks ago I was getting cleaned up to go on a first date. I was going about my normal routine- shampoo, condition, soap, shave, scrub, rinse- when I stopped dead in my tracks because something seemed very strange. As I brought myself into the present and took in my surroundings, it occurred to me that I had turned on music, which is something I never bother doing. Even more bizarre, I was loudly singing along and dancing, or at least in some culture on another planet it could be considered that. The water felt extra soothing and for once I wasn’t just going through the motions-shampoo, condition, soap, shave, scrub, rinse- I was actually FEELING every step of the process. The beads of water rolling down my body, the heat from the steam billowing up from the tub basin, the intoxicating scent of perfumes and botanicals from my assorted beauty products. The thing that felt so different, was that for the first time in a very long time, I was blissfully happy. And I am confident in saying I have never before felt this particular kind of happiness.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that the last few years have been full of up’s and down’s. I hate to even use the term “depression” because I feel like it is thrown around so easily anymore. But at the bare bones of everything, for a long time I have felt empty, unfulfilled and incomplete- far too long that it can only be considered a “bad day.” Within my life, I lit several fires and subconsciously burned everything to the ground, took this job and uprooted my life 5 hours away. The first month was probably the lowest I’ve ever been. Anytime you start something new or make a move, that is scary enough. But the fact I was still dragging a little bit of the dead weight from the last year around with me and other stressors in my personal life, plus being so far away from all my closest friends and family, made it almost unbearable. But somewhere along the way, things started getting better without me even realizing it. I finally completely released the people who were toxic to me. I became more knowledgeable and confident within my job. I started meeting people and building new relationships. I’ve started working out hard and consistently again. And now, I’ve even started dating; honestly truly dating for the first time ever, but more on that in a minute. The point is, leading up to that breakthrough in the shower, I’ve been so busy loving my new life, I hadn’t even had a chance to stop and acknowledge it.
It truly is a new life. Everything feels new and fresh and everything from my past seems as though it happened to a different person. A funny thing happens when you find yourself away from the influences of the people who’ve always helped define you- you actually figure out who you are. I love my close friends and family more than anything. I wouldn’t even be here right now if it weren’t for their support. But without being able to use them as a crutch or being able to lean into that comfort zone has forced me to get to know myself as the woman I am now. The woman who has endured a whole lotta shit, some of it self-induced and some of it just luck of the draw, but is standing stronger than before. I’ve not had the temptation to fall back into destructive habits out of boredom and instead I’ve developed new healthy ones. This situation has forced me to evaluate every aspect of myself and given me the opportunity to change the things I don’t like. There is no one here with a pre-conceived notion of me, so I can build myself from scratch as the person I have always wanted to be. And for the first time I really like myself.
Which loops me back around to that dating thing. It has taken a lot to get me out into that arena. Having suffered immeasurable amounts of heartache, trauma and betrayal stemming from the last two relationships I participated in, it would be an understatement to say I am guarded. But I want to meet new people, even if it’s just for friendship, so bearing that in mind and at the urging of Therapist, I forced myself out into the wild and accepted some dinner dates, which, with the exception of 1 have all went very well. I also realized that I have never truly “dated” in the traditional sense so I really have no idea what the hell I’m doing out here. Spending 33 years in Tri-Cities, we basically all know one another, and if I don’t know you, I know your friends and vice versa. There really haven’t been times where someone has properly asked me to dinner or a movie with the motive of wanting to get to know me as a person. It’s always been way more casual like meeting up at a bar, usually friends are involved, and no one is interested in anything more serious than hooking up. This has been a wonderful change of pace and I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with some amazing, successful men who have treated me like a lady. It also helps that having gone through what I’ve been through, I now hold myself to a higher standard, which is in turn attracting higher quality individuals into my life.
Look, I’ve said it before but I want to say this again, especially with Sept 8-14 being National Suicide Prevention Week. In life, every day you are handed dozens of small choices. The universe responds and adapts to the choice you make, which is what makes up your quality of life. Sometimes you are dealt a crappy hand, but you get to make the decision of how you want to it to turn out. Do you want to let it be your demise or simply the beginning of something infinitely better? Because I promise you, on my mother’s life, if you take control and make the conscious effort to start making choices that are beneficial, there IS better on the other side. It can be so hard to believe that when you’re at rock bottom. It wasn’t that long ago that I was literally on my floor, hadn’t eaten in days, sobbing to the point my ribcage hurt, unemployed, heartbroken and praying with everything in me that I would just die and hating myself for not having the guts to do it myself. But I put one foot in front of the other and trudged on, focusing on one small step at a time and now I am finally so far out of the darkness I’m able to look back and realize all of it was actually the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I am so grateful for the hard times, the betrayals and the lessons, because it has finally pushed me into the life of my wildest dreams…and it’s only getting better. Were it not for all that, I would have never set my life on fire and risen up new from the ashes. There is no one getting in your way except yourself, so break free from anything that doesn’t serve in your best interest anymore and demand better. My only regret is that I didn’t do that sooner.