Last night began like any other night: I came home from work to let Winnie out, went to an event about transit in Indy, hurried to Trader Joe’s for ingredients for a little girl’s birthday party that I am helping with, came home, pretended to watch the VP debate and then…..a stream of text messages. Many people have experienced this before me, but until it happens, I am not sure what I expected to feel. The most serious boyfriend I have had and also the one that impacted me the most, got engaged. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t really anything. So, I sat down and did what comes naturally, I wrote a series of life reflections to myself.
When I lived in St. Louis I had vertigo combined with chronic migraines, which resulted in me just being happy to face a new day. Add to that the new life I had created with someone that had put a time constraint on it from the beginning. Everything had rules and guidelines. So, you can understand my motionless reaction to find that someone that could never commit, had indeed committed. I will reiterate that I don’t want to be her or in that relationship, but it took this event to have the following ephiphanies.
It wasn’t until I received this message from my mentor that the tears poured down my face: “You are a much different person now than you were in STL.”
I believe these were tears of pride and triumph. He said that the independence, strength, intelligence, and beauty had been there all along…..I just had to experience some (ok, a lot of ) pain to grow into it. It usually takes a bystander in your life to say something aloud that you’ve known all along for you to actually take it to heart. I love the person that I am at this moment with Winston on my lap – the dog that I was never allowed to have until I was forced to move on and start living life for me.
Messages from friends that witnessed the last ten years all echoed the same theme: “You’re better off.” I sat there trying to remember happy moments that we had and quickly realized that there were few. I couldn’t even compare myself to her because there is no point – as my friend so eloquently texted me, “You are a shiny apple among boring oranges.” There was more to this sentiment, but I am attempting to take the high road here and not lay it all on you. She knew a food analogy would resonate with me. It takes good fruit to make a pie. I am in a much better place than I ever was when I experienced that relationship and I am better for having experienced it. Life lesson: No matter how hard it is, do NOT compare yourself to others.
I cried every night for a year after we broke up. Painful tears, fully aware that I was not treated well, yet still not wanting to give up on someone. I had put all of myself into that relationship and I was trapped as a result. Be your own person no matter what. All you have in this world is your individuality and you can never, ever let that take a back seat. Also, I owe my dad who put up with my tears and never once said it was foolish.
Shortly after I bought my condo in Indy, I found a therapist downtown and I only went twice. I share this because it’s important to not be ashamed of seeking help. I only went twice because I didn’t get much out of it. I knew that the only way to release myself from the past was to start living with all of my heart. That and it was $100 a session and that’s some good grocery money right there. As a side note, I could use this opportunity to share specific stories or things he said to me that still haunt me to this day, but that’s not productive. It is not really about him, rather it is all about how I chose to react.
Invest in one or two people that you can confide in and you’ll find that the honesty is liberating. You do not have to hide behind what hurt you.
My vibrancy, humor, and ability to give to others were absent in St. Louis. I was not able to be there for my friends and my opportunities were limited. I constantly felt poor (I had two jobs freelancing public relations) every time I bought our groceries and I was unable to make a difference in any aspect of my life there. Everything was dictated by someone else.
Indy brought my mojo back – Pilates, yoga, riding my bike, Junior League, Dig IN, Indy Hub events, dinner parties, mentoring the new wave of Indy leaders, finally starting my cookie business on the side….the list is endless. Life lesson: allow yourself to fall in love with a place and make it your home. Denver’s middle name was wanderlust (ok, it was Allison, but work with me here): she loved to travel and get lost in new places. However, she bought a condo in Indy because no matter where she went, she always wanted a home to return to.
Today has made me miss Denver even more than usual. I can visualize us sitting on the couch, me crying, her holding the box of Kleenex, and her knowing exactly what to say. Tough, painful words to hear, but what I needed. Also, insert Winston chasing Moose and Moose not being amused for the most accurate depiction.
Denver didn’t want him at her memorial. He had called me the month before she passed and when I told her about the phone call, she said absolutely not. She was far wiser than I will ever be – she saw that strong little lady hidden under my shell and I know she began to see it emerge ever so slowly in her last few months.
At the most recent Creative Mornings the speaker shared two photos with the audience. One photo was of her in her early twenties, seated on a couch with a boyfriend that had repeatedly hurt her. The second picture was of a smiling, twirling, confident thirty-something. She hadn’t noticed the transformation until someone found the first photo and sent it to her. The body language and even the outfit spoke louder than words ever will. Life lesson: You have to not only know that magic exists inside of you, but you have to believe it everyday.
I debated writing about this, but I know that so many of you have also experienced heartbreak, loss, and most importantly growth. Hopefully you’ll be able to relate, find the courage to share your own story, and embrace your true self.