I’m back in Illinois, where my father lives and where I typically visit twice a year to catch up with family and friends I rarely see since I live in Ohio.
One year ago, I brought my young son on this Fourth of July trip with me—the first time we made a father-son trip together after his mom and I stopped living together.
One year ago, I sat poolside, day drinking a little and reflecting on my life.
No sense of direction.
No idea what might happen next.
I only knew that my life had unexpectedly changed forever and I needed to deal with it. Getting away from my house and immersing myself in family had a profound impact on me.
This blog was less than a month old. My fingers were still learning this dance. My mind still trying to wrap its way around the words needing written and the life needing lived.
I had been so sad and so angry for the three months since she left.
Here I found peace. Not inner peace. But outer peace. In this place. Plush, green, open acreage.
A bunch of important things collided.
Love and support from family.
The realization that I had what it takes to care for my son alone.
A healthy change of scenery from the bleakness that was my now-empty home.
And the words were working their way out from me for the first time. What will come out next? From this place deep down inside. I was coaxing things out I didn’t know were in there.
I was mostly screaming with the keyboard. Crying and blaming and finger pointing.
I needed to do it. I needed to be mad and throw a tantrum. There’s still a child in here angry at the unfairness of his own parents’ split three decades earlier. My own divorce pulled all that anger and sadness to the surface.
From day one, writing here has felt like being on the proverbial couch. Divulging all that festers inside. Occasionally turning myself inside out and letting people see the ugly.
From where I sit now, I see the poolside table and chair where I sat a year ago and wrote An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1.
It’s not particularly well written. But people liked it. People like when others accept responsibility for their lot in life.
Up until that post, I hadn’t done any of that.
Up until that post, I had been a victim.
When you accept responsibility, you become empowered.
And that’s the day I became empowered as a writer. That’s the day I gave myself a real chance to contribute something positive. To turn a selfish exercise into an unselfish one.
Is There a Point to All This?
I hope so.
I hope there is a percentage of people out there who have gotten to know me throughout this process. Who have watched—for lack of a better term—a metamorphosis. From me spazzing and freaking out. To whatever this is now.
Maybe I’ve earned a smidge of credibility with some of you whose broken hearts are healing. From people who felt cheated. Or abandoned. Or broken. Because the person you loved and trusted most made choices that made you question everything you ever believed about them and yourself.
Fear and anxiety keep you from living when you lose yourself. When you don’t know where “you” went.
You remember being a certain way. And now you’re not that way.
You remember feeling good. And now you don’t feel good.
You remember having confidence as your life progressed in ways you expected and that made sense to you. And now you’re not confident. Now all your plans and dreams are derailed.
You’re in mental, spiritual and emotional limbo. And you’ll stay right there until you’re not anymore.
I Think I’m Back
I’ll never be like I used to be. I’m forever changed. Hopefully for the better.
But I’m me again.
I was in agony. I was terrified. I was crying.
And now I’m not.
I faked hopefulness.
And now I have it for real.
I felt broken and shitty. Every single second I was awake.
And now I feel stitched together and somewhat whole. I don’t feel shitty.
Everything is going to be okay.
One year later, I can measure progress.
One year later, I can see and feel change.
One year later, I know that no matter what happens next, I can handle it.
I’m going to spend the next couple days thinking about what I did and about the things I think helped me along the way in case you feel like you’re dying. Like you need something—anything—to hold onto. And maybe some of the things that worked for me can work for you.
Maybe the calendar can be a tool. Maybe time can be your friend. Maybe you don’t have to feel like you’re doing this alone.
I think maybe it’s okay to not know what’s going to happen today.
As long as you give it every chance to be better than yesterday.