Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Coping with Life Altering Breakups

The 27th will be the third anniversary of my divorce. I view this day as my independence day - the day I regained my freedom as an independent woman free from the confines of being legally tied to another person and the damage that legality can cause to a person when all is betrayed or jeopardized.

Although I still celebrate this freedom day, this year it comes with some heartache. Perhaps this is due to the ending of my last relationship almost six months ago. It was the first relationship since my divorce where I allowed myself to deeply love again and for a while I thought this relationship would be a forever relationship. Like my dreams and hopes pinned on my marriage were dashed, so it would be with this relationship as well.

Just like with the ending of any deep relationship, there are bouts of sadness and pain that creep in afterwards when you think you've fully healed. And so it is as my anniversary approaches. I am reminded of the life I once had and the life I have now. I had a good life then and I still do now - they're just different and honestly, in the long run it is a far better life now.

In my marriage, we were building a life together. We were planning to build our dream home on a farm I bought in the country and for years planned on surrogacy for a child of our own. He was trying to make his own side business work of his own passions and interests. We lived as partners and we had a great relationship and marriage - until we didn't anymore. I remember the day that my life began to fall apart, only I didn't truly realize it yet. My love for my husband and my optimism in us kept me in denial of the true level of pain that had been inflicted upon me and our relationship. In the end, the pain was too much and I couldn't get past it. Eventually, I realized that the level of security I require for my own well-being could only be obtained and protected on my own - outside of any marriage or legalities that would tie me to another person and their choices.

My life changed - there was no more plans for a deeply desired baby, I moved back home to my parents and eventually sold the farm. I didn't know what I would do or where I would live permanently. My mind frantically raced between all the possibilities. One moment I was going to permanently stay with my parents and provide for them as they age or I would build my own house on their acreage so that I would be near but separate. Or maybe I would go ahead and build a house on my farm or just move into my new boyfriend's house. The options were endless and I found myself able to advocate for every possibility. But in reality, I was still grieving. My life was different and there were too many options available. I didn't know what I wanted my life to become.

The times following our separation and divorce were truly freeing.
The weight of all the pain and
stress had been lifted from me and I had the whole world ahead of me full of adventures awaiting me. Sometimes I still am gifted the surreal feeling of my present life with all the freedom of opportunities that singledom provides - the never ending possibilities that lie ahead for me with no one else to answer to or interfere with my decisions or life. The world is open to me and I can choose any path I so wish. This surreal feeling has waned over the years but it refreshes itself periodically and I am left amazed at my life. I left a marriage that had unexpectedly turned harmful to my future security and I managed to pick myself up (albeit with the support of my parents and friends) and now I own my own home. I never would have suspected owning your own home could provide such joyous, prideful feelings within oneself. At times it is hard to believe I am where I am in life - that surreal feeling that I made it on my own.

My last relationship lasted a year, longer than it should have for my own mental well-being. We lived together and it was nice to share a life with someone beyond just the weekly date. It wasn't a partnership like I wanted but it was the closest I had come since my marriage and we shared a deep love for a while. After our break up, I had to become accustomed to being on my own again in my home. This allowed me to reacquaint myself with my home and that surreal feeling of it all being mine and mine alone. That surreal freedom I had lost while in this relationship.

I've rediscovered my freedom and the wonderfulness of my present life since then. Sure, I hope to find a partner to spend my life with someday. It would be nice but so is the freedom of independence. And so for now, I will savor this freedom and cherish the surreal feeling of my accomplishments and the adventures that await me.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Milestone Depression


I never was one to attach a lot of meaning to holidays or birthdays, they were just another day, another year. Sure I enjoyed celebrating with loved ones but they remained just another day. I even recognized birthdays as a milestone of survival. However, my outlook on holidays drastically changed over the last couple of years for two particular days - my birthday and New Year's. Now I enter a period of mourning around these days in anticipatory grief over what the future holds.

I have always wanted my parents to outlive me and there were times that this was nearly the case. I fear the real possibility of outliving my parents. And as I age, this fear has intensified. My birthday and New Year's have become to serve as painful reminders of this fear as I become another year closer to my fears becoming reality. I no longer enjoy these days, instead I become overwhelmed with fear and depressive feelings - spending hours sobbing while my mind is consumed.

As a child and teenager, there were times that my doctors were amazed at my survival of times that I wasn't expected to live through. Afterwards, I was convinced that I would not live past age 21. When I turned 22, I was overcome with feelings of bewilderment and grief at passing 21. I had come to accept my death and was prepared for it. I didn't know what to think about continuing onward with life when I was utterly convinced I wouldn't see 22. My health was still precarious enough that it wasn't unreasonable to think my life was limited. Age 21 has come and gone and now, I find age 40 to be a prime limit to my life. At 40, my parents should still be living and they would be recipients of my life insurance policies that would allow them to be taken care of financially and medically in their older years. My parents' comfort and security is more important and means more to me than a long life for myself nor do I want to endure the loss of my parents. As selfish as that may be, their loss is a tremendous fear of mine and I truly believe they would handle losing me better than I would handle losing them.

And so for the day of and a few days past my birthday or New Year's I am overcome with mourning for another year added to my age and my parents' ages. This state doesn't stay for long but it is long enough to remove any joy these holidays may have held for me in the past. I try to remind myself during these days to enjoy the time that we do have together and no one knows the future. After a couple of days the intense feelings extinguish themselves until the next year when they are renewed with acuity once again. The fear remains with me on a daily basis in the back of my mind, however, not as acute as on these particular holidays. Most days it is easily manageable as I practice reframing my bothersome thoughts and distract myself with activities. It's important to focus on the present so that we don't get lost in the fears of the future.