Life's a journey.
It has its ups. Its downs. Its sharp turns. Its sudden screeching halts.
Okay, from the sounds of it, maybe life is more like a roller coaster...
One of those big, rickety, wooden ones.
The ones that are simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating and leave you with a slight nauseating headache and a giant grin on your face.
The ones where you're not sure if you loved it or hated it, but either way you need to find a place to sit down for a second, sip some lemonade, and reassess what the hell you were thinking getting in that line in the first place.
That description is pretty apropos for me lately.
While 2014 was a tough one, 2015 was one for the books... Probably the only book I'd support burning to ash.
2015 was the year my marriage crumbled into ruin.
I'm not going to go into the 'hows' and 'whys' and all the nitty gritty details, so go ahead and put away the popcorn. None of that matters, in the end. Mine is a story that has been played out by millions of people before me, and will be muddled through by millions in the years to come. It's nothing anomalous or noteworthy, with the exception of where it has brought me to within myself.
And that's what this post is about.
Everyone who has gone through a divorce has experienced this highly strange dichotomy: your experiences are both singular and universal, unique and commonplace. And it is in that swirling, consuming polarity that one finds their true self.
I've blogged before about living your truth, being your authentic self, and enjoying the journey. And I will admit that this past year, I've struggled hard core with taking my own advice. It became far too easy to get caught up in the daily grind, in the hustle and bustle of this new version of normal, in just trying to keep the ship afloat.
For months following the split, my sole focus was on survival. Just trying to get through each day. Keep my chin up, tick off the boxes on my mental To Do list, and keep my wits about me.
And I'll admit. It was hard as hell.
Some days I rocked it.
Others... well, I got rocked. Badly.
I lost a few friends. Gained a few more.
I thought I had it all figured out, and then found myself literally and metaphorically collapsed on the floor, utterly walloped by the latest curveball.
I felt strong. I felt broken. I was vulnerable, yet completely closed off.
I laughed until I cried. I cried myself to sleep.
I screamed into my pillow, wondering how the hell I wound up in this place, and questioning whether or not I'd ever feel okay again.
And slowly-- painfully slowly-- I started putting myself back together.
I have historically always been a guarded person. I have never trusted easily, so when I do finally let that wall down, I'm even more vulnerable because of it. I have been called Stoic Sarah more times than I can count, and it used to be something I wore with pride; a badge of honor, if you will.
After all, if you keep people away, they can't hurt you. That means you're strong, right?
I am a rock. I am an island.
Or so I thought.
But I am not a Simon & Garfunkel song (despite my adoration of their music!).
I am a human being. And contrary to my public persona, I am an emotional, vulnerable, breakable one at that. I put on a facade of strength. I smile despite hurting. I laugh even though I'm crying inside. I flip sarcasm and jaunty wit constantly, creating an airy, easygoing image. People assume I don't care, or that nothing fazes me, but my reality couldn't be farther from that. Especially this past year.
And therein lay my struggle.
How do I convey to those around me my personal truth? How do I let my wall down, knowing how badly I've been hurt and wanting more than anything to avoid ever feeling that way again? How can I be strong if I let myself show weakness? How can I let those around me know the turmoil swirling beneath the surface, behind my bright smile and sparkling eyes?
I didn't think I could. I didn't know how to balance that need for connection and emotional support with the compulsion for self-defense. I've never been good at letting people in. Those closest to me can attest to that. My emotional wall is arguably my biggest flaw.
But here's something I learned along the way...
You can be broken and whole. You can be strong and vulnerable. You can let your walls down while still feeling guarded and afraid. You can be brave in your fear. And you can let people in without it destroying you.
I've been blessed to welcome some incredible people into my life this year. People whose love, support, humor, and wisdom have helped me not only find my strength, but have helped me heal along the way.
There is no light without darkness. There are no rainbows without storms. And there is no roller coaster without the stomach-churning twists, drops, and halts.
I've struggled. I've hurt. I've been broken. But I still find myself thankful. Because I've learned. I've grown. And I'm stronger for it.
I'm excited to see what this next year holds, and I welcome it with a trepidatious but open heart.
So bring it on, 2016. And you better play nice!