Holy shit, it’s been a while since I’ve written something of substance. Be gentle with me. A random assortment of this has been living inside my notes for months, or years, while I wait to find the right time to hash it out into something anyone would care to read. But let’s be honest – nothing will ever happen if we wait for the moment to be right. So, here I am: unprepared, scared, but ready as I’ll ever be.
I struggle with the line between being authentic and over sharing, and not because I naturally overshare but rather the opposite. There has always been something so off-putting to me about seeing someone freely share the gritty details of their personal life on social media. Maybe because I’ve been uncomfortable to do the same. Maybe part of me envies the courage it takes to share such intimate details with the world. So often the things we should be sharing with those close to us are the hardest to let out. I’ve hid so much out of fear. Talking to a complete stranger, on the other hand, turn the faucet and let it flow. The thing is, I’m not afraid of sharing real moments. But when it comes to personal – and I mean PERSONAL – I feel like I’m overstepping. Even close friends and family will tell you they have to pry. It’s not in my nature to feel like I’m burdening others with my baggage.
I’m changing that narrative for myself because the past two years have been transformative for me. And that’s an understatement. For so long I’ve thought painting was my first love, but words were. I’m realizing that writing has always been my natural way of expression. And while this is already an out of body experience, I feel called to lay down my thoughts because normalizing conversations around mental health and real life struggles are imperative. The things that we go through don’t define us, but rather shape us. And if we hide them, or talk down to ourselves about those aspects of our lives, we fuel the wrong vehicle – and that is such a huge disservice to our entire being. Stepping outside of our comfort zone is essential for us to grow.
Rip The Bandaid Off
I filed for divorce three months before the world shut down. And despite being at the start of a global pandemic, it was the ideal scenario for my introverted self. I didn’t have to face anyone or explain anything unless by choice. And still, as I write this I have the same stomach in throat feeling I got every time I dropped the news. This is extremely raw and vulnerable, but if this helps even one person then it’s worth it. Who knows, maybe that one person is me.
This isn’t something I have talked about publicly for various reasons. Not because I’m ashamed, because I’ve truly healed from that notion, but I have to acknowledge the other person involved. I want to be respectful of the privacy of someone else’s life, because this story is a two way street. And as most things are, there are so many deep layers beyond the surface I’m scratching in this piece. These words are from my personal experience only.
I have a hard time saying this aloud, but I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. I never, in a million years thought that would be my reality. Looking back now, I can see how much I covered up and rationalized before I even realized how bad things were. That’s hindsight for you. It’s difficult to find words to rationalize why I stayed. There are many stories to tell, and those are for another time because A. There is no long story short in this scenario and B. I won’t ever write a book if this blog goes on forever.
Drugs and mental health issues were at the core of everything. And while I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an addict, I can tell you that loving one is many things. It’s like a vortex you get sucked into. It’s a slow burn and one day you find yourself enabling, consumed with guilt, and so deep in the thick of it that it’s almost easier to stay stuck.
Not Mutually Exclusive
I was done before it was done. I had drained myself of all emotion and connection in the relationship before I walked away. I think that was the only way I could force myself to detach and recognize I desperately needed to change my trajectory. Because outside of the relationship, I was successfully growing my business, my relationships with family and friends were strong – life seemed good. Yet I wasn’t being honest with anyone, not even myself.
I played tennis in my own head for such a long time. I felt like a terrible person for wanting to leave someone who was struggling so badly. But at what cost? I was allowing myself to completely grind down my own mental health. And the reality of it all was that by staying, I wasn’t helping him.
I remember being in the thick of my divorce last year, watching the first bridge episode of Euphoria, and two things hit me deep in my core because it felt so true to my past relationship:
1. For some people there’s no rock bottom, it’s bottomless.
2. Drugs will fundamentally change who you are as a person.
One of the hardest things for me to accept was that there was nothing I could do. You can’t love someone into wanting to change. And you can’t hate someone into making yourself feel better. Addiction is a disease unlike most others, but a disease nonetheless.
It took me a long time to believe (not just say) that leaving him didn’t mean I was a bad person. Part of that was the manipulation, but I also have more empathy than most. The truth I know now is that I can still want the best for him and recognize that our relationship wasn’t healthy for either of us.
Healing Isn't Linear
The things you don’t change become your reality. I so vividly remember the night that I finally chose myself. I still have days where I just cry. Days where I feel completely out of place. But I have more days where I feel like I can actually breathe again. Days where I feel so genuinely filled with joy. So, on the days when I feel defeated because of certain expectations I have, I remind myself that where I’ve been isn’t who I am and I’ve come a long way since having the courage to do what was best for me. Trauma isn’t our fault, but finding the space to heal from that trauma is a critical step we have to take.
I’ve lost a lot, but I’ve gained more. I’m a big believer in trying to find purpose in the things I go through – good, bad, in between. There is so much that I’ve learned about myself these past couple of years. Looking inward is fucking scary. And scary isn’t always what it seems, scary can be really good. Facing myself post-divorce has forced me to be conscious about everything in my personal and work life. The opportunities I take on, the things I put energy into, the circle of people I surround myself with. And most importantly, I’ve been learning to love myself again through this new season. There’s no formula or timeline to healing. That’s tough to swallow sometimes. And If I’m being really honest, I know I’m still avoiding some of the trauma – but we take it day by day. Til next time, friends.