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August 3, 2021

How I Found Joy after my Life Burned to the Ground.

 

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In June of 2020, just as my birthday was peeking through the horizon, I found myself unemployed, mid-divorce from my partner of almost 13 years, unbearably alone, joyless, and trying to salvage any ounce of sanity through reading and working out.

Ringing in my 32nd birthday was basically me in a title company’s office, signing the final documentation needed to sell my home. With my mother sitting next to me, silently judging and trying hard to keep her composure, I signed the entire packet as quickly as I could to be able to get out of there.

That year, there was no party, no friends to celebrate with, and above all, there was simply no joy.

I remember walking out of the office with my mother glaring at me with this stern look on her face asking me why I had no emotions. She demanded to know how I could be so cold and done with my marriage while my ex-husband apparently cried through the entire signing.

I just stood there quietly, letting her disapproval wash over me, and simply responded with a soft, “I loved you, Ma.”

We hugged and I got in my car.

I drove off the lot and into a nearby Burger King, where I proceeded to sob uncontrollably at the realization that my entire life, as I knew it, was indeed over. I was not made of stone, but I have always been someone who prefers to fall apart in private and cry uncontrollably in my shower—where I can, at the very least, exfoliateand then carry on.

Few individuals on this earth can say they have seen me cry. I prefer not to do it in public.

My house was sold, and all my belongings were either donated or trashed. My life had quite literally burned to the ground and with it went all my physical possessions. On moving day, all I could do was sit in an empty apartment, alone with my cats, and just stare at the white wall.

I conveniently chose to move 30 minutes away from everyone I knew. I needed distance between myself, the blast radius of my nuclear divorce, and all those involved. It was a self-preservation thing and I have zero regrets about any of my decisions.

The year that followed was one filled with lessons, growth, healing, and above all, an abundance of love from all those who truly cared for me. I redefined what I look for in “love” and I began to dig deep to understand patterns about myself that needed to be modified or pruned out. Thanks to Brené Brown and her magnificent catalog of work, I went through a huge spiritual awakening and found myself again.

As I began to venture out into the dating scene, I discovered that the rules had changed, and like Olivia Rodrigo said, “It’s brutal out here!”

I dated strangers who I now call friends. I dated friends who are now strangers. I flirted every chance I got once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and I even traveled to another state to see a gentlemen lover.

My heart was full at times and was broken at times too. Being the only single, childless woman in my group of friends meant I had no rules or ties to keep me in line. All my friends were living vicariously through me. They shared in my pain, laughed at my embarrassing moments, and enjoyed all the juicy stories.

So much has slowly changed in my life that it wasn’t until my 33rd birthday was rolling around that it really hit me just how different everything was.

As I booked my dinner reservation for a party of 12 (OMG!) and invited the guy who I was seeing to join me on the night out, I realized that I was not alone this year. I had a tribe of individuals who genuinely loved me, who stuck by me through the most difficult time in my life, and helped make life fun again.

This year, there was a party. I couldn’t even invite all the friends I wanted to due to covid regulations.

But above all, there was joy.

The amount of gratitude I felt the night of my birthday as I looked around at everyone singing to me was so intense. My heart was beaming, and I was on the verge of tears.

But you know your girl did not cry because foundation is super expensive!

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