Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's not always sunny over here and that's ok

If you've been reading here for even a little while, you probably know that I've had a lot going on over the last year or so. I lost my job. I got divorced. I'm starting a new business.

Losing my job was a blessing in disguise. I needed a kick in the ass to get out of the life I was living. I was miserable. I was taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers and I was still unhappy and mentally unstable (not "kill-your-neighbor" unstable but, you know, really, really moody). The reality was that I made so much damn money and had such a "good" job that I couldn't bring myself to quit. Even though I knew it was literally killing me. Once I got over the shock of being fired for the first time in my life, I realized that I was being given a golden opportunity to finally do something that I was happy doing.

Losing my job - and surviving it without being hospitalized in a straight jacket - finally gave me the courage to file for divorce. (Also, being with him 24/7 was a nightmare). I knew my marriage wasn't working and wasn't ever going to work. We had been to marriage counseling but it actually made things worse. I had wanted to get divorced for years but didn't have the guts to pull the trigger. I was scared. Scared of my husband (for good reason). Sacred to disappoint my kids. But more than that, I was afraid to be on my own. I was so convinced of my inability to take care of myself and so convinced that I was nothing without him, that I couldn't envision a life on my own anymore. (Forget for a moment that I was 31 years old when we got married. I had lived on my own in NYC for years before going to law school. I was perfectly capable of being on my own. I just had gotten so far away from myself that I couldn't remember that independent person anymore).

The hardest part of it all has been the letting go of who I thought I was. I had this image of myself - successful big firm lawyer, happy wife (bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan type, you know?) - that was shattered. And even though the shattering of that image is the best thing that has ever happened to me (with the exception of having my babies), it is still very difficult to go through. It feels kind of like losing a limb. You know how amputees say that they can sometimes still feel an amputated limb? I can still see that woman - she looked so happy and confident. And I admit, I kind of miss her. (And I miss her money. I hate like hell to confess it, but it's true.)

I'm building a new image of myself now. One that I hope is truer to who I am inside. But before I can really do that, I have to let the old image go. I have to mourn the loss of that person, that life - even if it wasn't all that happy or healthy. There were good moments - more than just a few. I have to mourn the loss of my marriage and my job. I have to let the old me go before I can move forward and truly become the new me.

Lately I've been so busy enjoying the growth and energy of my new life that I haven't given proper attention to the dark side of all this change. The sadness and the anger. You can't ignore the dark side - it will come out whether you like it or not. And when it does, you might not recognize it. For me, it's been coming out in annoying rashes on my legs, severe hip pain and moodiness. It's begging for recognition and acceptance. I want so badly to be writing about happy, inspiring goodness (probably for the wrong reasons) but I've had some mega writer's block. And maybe this is why - maybe what you all need to hear is the not-so-good. The sad and mad stuff. You don't need sunflowers and butterflies from me. What you need is something real. And sometimes being real means allowing the dark sides of ourselves to show.

Remember, if it wasn't for the darkness, you wouldn't - couldn't - appreciate the light. And as a friend wrote in a great post the other day: "There is a use for all of it, a way to turn everything into compost and therefore a beautiful garden." So I'm going to allow the darkness its due. I accept the sadness, the anger - everything that isn't necessarily pretty. I'm letting go of the old me and it will be ok.

I'm going to stop trying to pretend everything is sunshine and lattes all the time. It's a perfect day for it, too. It's raining and I'm out of coffee.
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