On this day, one year ago, my marriage “officially” ended.
I won’t go into the gory details here, I wrote a little about it in this post, but what I will say is that it was sudden, brutal and I didn’t think I could survive. The grief suffocated me. I held my breath and floated through my life like a ghost for months.
Today my life is very different and this post is about new beginnings, hope and joy. It’s about surviving heartbreak.
In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B – Facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy, she says, “Time has marched on and in some ways I have too. In other ways I haven’t… But just as grief crashes into us like a wave, it also rolls back the tide. We are left not just standing, but in some ways stronger. Option B still gives us options. We can still love… and we can still find joy.”
For me this is so true, my tide HAS rolled back. What I have realised as the days have ticked by, is that this needed to happen to make room for my own dreams to flourish, and for me to take charge of my life.
Gradually over 16 years of being partnered up, I had fallen into the trap of thinking in the collective, believing that everything in life was about “us” = me + my husband + my kids. I’d completely lost myself, my identity was mum and wife. Don’t get me wrong I was absolutely proud to be mum and wife, but that’s where the rub was, the more I lived it, loved it and lost myself in “us”, the less I knew who I was.
Helloooo Gillian, are you in there?
When I started working with Carolyn on the wonderful beast that is Champagne Cartel, I got a taste of what it was like to be me again. It ignited a spark in me and I remembered the things that I loved and what I could do when I tried. I knew somewhere in me was a person who was exceptional in their own right and I was starting to see her emerge. It was incredibly empowering and made me brave. I started to stand a little taller, speak with more authority, lead by example.
I can see now though, that there wasn’t room in my marriage for me.
So my marriage is gone but I am left standing, battle-hardened and frankly, tired as fuck, but still here, throwing punches and smiling while I do it.
Now that I am on my own I am able to stretch myself into my skin again, filling myself into all my corners, fitting into myself like hands into gloves.
Yes, of course things are tough. The admin of being a single mum makes me want to scoop an eye out and the financial strain is enormous. But this time last year I was a tiny and tightly curled ball, my skin stretched across me in pain, my eyes squeezed shut. Today I am unfurled, opened up, my face looks up to the sun. I can handle my vulnerability instead of shaming it into a dark corner, and actually I’m not scared of much these days. I look in a mirror and I see me staring back at me, not an apparition wearing me like a coat (“he rubs the lotion on it’s skin…”). So that’s pretty good I reckon.
And you know what? Now that I’ve cracked myself open and become ME again, I’ve met someone new and very beautiful, who likes me just as I am. Which is surprising and delightful. Who’d have thunk, hey?
Have you faced adversity and found joy again?