The dog days are over

Late summer.

I was a mess. I’d just lost my husband. I’d just lost my best friend. I’d just lost the person I’d (wrongly) expected would be thrilled to see me come home. The rug had been ripped out from under me. Rather, I’d ripped the rug out from underneath myself. In what feels like a never-ending blame game, it has been pointed out to me that am the one who did this to myself.

It’s true, I did. But it’s also the best decision I ever made.

Anyhow. On this particular day, I sat on my friend’s couch clutching a bottle of tequila because who needs to dirty a glass when you are trying to drown a pain that feels insurmountable?

We sat there together. Him playing video games, me guzzling tequila like my life depended on it and drowning out the thoughts in my head with music because I still couldn’t formulate words of my own.

“The Dog Days are Over” by Florence the Machine came on.

 

 

The two of us were coping with heart break, and the dog days were far from over, as he so kindly pointed out.

Cue my guzzling more tequila.

I remember sitting there in that moment listening to the lyrics. “Happiness hit her, like a train on a track.”

I felt like I’d been hit by a train, but a train of pain and tears and an endless hangover.

I immediately started ugly crying because how on earth were the dog days supposed to be over? How was I supposed to put back the pieces of my life that I shattered with a sledgehammer? I remember wondering why I even did this to myself –why couldn’t I have just continued to suffer in silence? I still hadn’t realized I deserved far better, we both did.

I didn’t think there was any way I would possibly get through it. My dog days were just my life. They would be over when I was dead.

“One day, the dog days will be over, and we will sit here listening to this song and think about how ridiculous we both were.”

Mostly I think he just wanted me to stop crying, because I sat in that spot with a bottle of something or a pint of ice cream at least three times a week for a while. I stared keeping ice cream and tequila in his freezer so I could listen to Adele and cry with someone next to me.

If you’re reading this, and I haven’t thanked you recently for holding onto all my shattered pieces so I could put them back together and for being my safe place and for all the things, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

That moment has stuck with me. I think about it often. Usually when I’m drunk and confused, but more recently in a better light.

The song came on our playlist at work, and I immediately started singing along and jamming out while I was doing my little barista thing.

Then all of the sudden it hit me, like a train on a track.

The dog days are over.

The dog days are fucking over.

I’m happier now than I think I’ve ever been. Life isn’t without it’s struggles or stresses, obviously, but I’m so happy.

This move to Florida was good for me. It was without a doubt exactly what I needed to do. I’m writing more than I ever have. I’ve met people who have inspired me and pushed me and who believe in me.

I’ve healed relationships that have needed healing for a while. Life has just been an incredible whirlwind of good things lately, and more good things are coming.

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Everything it must belong somewhere. I know that now, that’s why I’m staying here. 

The dog days are fucking over. I survived the worst thing I thought could ever happen. I lost everything I knew, everything I thought I wanted. I threw everything away because I knew I was miserable, and it wasn’t fair to anyone involved.

The dog days are fucking over, and I couldn’t be happier.

2016: the Dumpster Fire Year

Every year I say I’m not going to write one of those cliched, over-done, “year in review” posts. Yet, every year I find myself sitting behind a keyboard writing one any ways. I kicked enough bad habits this year, I suppose this one will have to wait.

I have a difficult time categorizing 2016 as a “good” or “bad” year. It would be easy to say that it was the worst, in a lot of ways it was a complete dumpster fire. However, that discounts the good things that happened this year which feels unfair.

Whether good or bad, 2016 will go down as a pivotal year in my life. This year took me to places I only dreamed of, and it brought me home again. It ripped me out of my comfort zone and forced me to build a new one –and even to learn to be okay living without one for a little while.

I call it the dumpster fire year because it went up in flames before January even came to a close. While this atrocious year is finally ending, I still haven’t fully extinguished the fire. That’s okay, though. Good things come with time. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it is that there is no need to rush things. I’m terrible at patience, but I’m learning. Trying to, at least.

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What will go down as the most peaceful moment of 2016, and maybe my entire life so far. Walking, doing yoga and meditating on the beach at sunrise in Crete, Greece. 

 

This year was the year that I lost and found myself within one fell swoop. I uprooted myself more than once. First to Europe to build the life I thought I wanted with the person I thought would be my constant. Then back home again to figure out what the hell I actually want because I was so terribly wrong the first time.

I lost the majority of my faith in my decision making this year, but I learned a tremendous amount about my strength. I learned that I am far stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. I never thought I would have the courage to make such a drastic change to improve my life without someone to lean on as a crutch. It’s not to say that I didn’t have support, I certainly did, but I had to find the strength within myself to do what I needed to do because there was no one to catch me if I fell. It wasn’t easy, but the right thing rarely is.

This year I really began to embody the “do no harm but take no shit” mantra that spoke to me so deeply the first time I heard it. I learned I don’t have to belittle others to stand up for myself, and that I am worth standing up for in my own right. Not simply because of the role I fulfill for someone else.

More than anything, I learned to respect myself, and I learned to demand the same respect from others who wish to be a part of my life. I finally realized that I don’t deserve to be put down or shamed or treated badly by people who say they love me –friend or lover. I learned, and am still learning, how to set boundaries for myself.

That is a lesson I hope my daughter doesn’t have to learn the hard way.

I learned that goodbyes aren’t always negative and are often entirely necessary –even if they take a few pints of ice cream, a couple bottles of liquor and incessant bitching and ranting to get over.

I spent the majority of this year completely and utterly heart broken. This year brought me to one of the lowest points of my life. However, I’ll call it a win because I managed to feel completely overcome with depression and sadness and shame and occasionally far too much alcohol, but I never once felt like ending my life. That is an accomplishment, and yet another testament to the strength I have worked so hard to develop.

The year opened with news of a betrayal that shook me to my core, and it unraveled from there.

While my months in Europe were magical in so many ways, and I am so insanely grateful for that experience, they were also lonely. I remember being so overjoyed to be living my dream of traveling and exploring and seeing the world, but also so lost, isolated and that maybe, no matter how much I wanted it, it wasn’t where I needed to be right then. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more conflicted than I was this year, which is why it is so difficult for me to sum up.

My heart ached while I was in Europe so I came home.

The hurt has subsided. I no longer cringe every time I think about the way my dreams fell apart. I no longer question whether or not I did the right thing. I don’t cry myself to sleep any more, I’ve healed in countless ways.

I’m ready to slowly wade into this new year and see what it has to offer me. I’m ready for new beginnings. There are a few things brewing right now that I am excited to watch unfold.

More than anything, 2016 taught me about the power of friendship.

When Chris and I were together, he used to say that he felt like I loved my friends more than him. Honestly, it was probably true. Anyone who has been friends with me knows I love big, I love hard. I take care of my friends, and they are everything to me.

This year I felt that love back. I had to cut a few out, but it was worth it. I surrounded myself with the greatest people who supported me, encouraged me and loved me despite the fact that I’ve been a complete mess. You guys know who you are, and you know how much I love you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for everything.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to kiss an old year goodbye and welcome a new one with open arms. I’m going into this year with a smile on my face and a heart full of love.

Good things are coming, I can feel it.

I’m ready.

 

The search for clarity

Today I went to the woods, and I walked. I got chastised by my dear friend for embarking on such an expedition alone, but I made it out alive (obviously). While I’m ultra sensitive about people feeling like they have to take care of me lately, I’m happy to have people who care if I get eaten by a bear or taken out by an axe murderer.

It was a cold morning, but I wrapped my flannel tightly around myself, and I walked.

The cold air chapped my lips and blushed my cheeks, but I walked. The sky was grey, and the December air sent chills through my body, but I kept moving –willing myself forward as though whatever it is I am looking for lies buried within that forest.

In some ways, maybe it does. What is it I’m searching for? Clarity? Understanding? Love? Belonging? A cure to the existential dread that hits me harder and more often than I care to admit? A treasure map? Some actual treasure?

I might have better luck finding it if I could name it, but I walk anyways.

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I walk until my head is spinning with thoughts and memories.

It’s like I’m in one of those movie montages where a character goes back to an old place and memories and voices and scenes from earlier in the film are artistically faded in. Those scenes always have me in tears.

Today I was in my own version of that, except there is no screen, no fancy transitions. This is all happening in my head –behind my closed, tear-filled eyes as I breathe in breath after breath of cold air hoping to stop my head from spinning.

I remember one of the last times I was in these particular woods. I wasn’t alone, I was with someone who was once very dear to me.

I was then, much like now, searching for some form of clarity.

I stood in the middle of the path, and I couldn’t hear the whisper of the wind or the chirping of the birds or the babbling of the creek.

All I could hear was us. My voice, asking why over and over and over again. Why to me? Why lie? Why do this to me, of all people? What did I do to deserve a betrayal that lasted so long and cut so deep?

I hear her, giving me an explanation. It wasn’t good enough, but I don’t think any explanation given for this particular situation would have been good enough.

There are some wounds that can only be healed with time. Some choices you can’t explain away.

She isn’t there, we don’t speak anymore, but before I know it the words are escaping my mouth again.

Why?

Seasons have passed, my life is completely different than it was back on that cold, February day when we were there together. Still, I am wondering the same things. Maybe it all came back to me because it was the same place, and the weather was the same, and I, ironically enough, happened to be wearing the same T-shirt. Funny how things come full circle like that.

I still don’t understand how someone could hurt their best friend like that, but I’m learning to accept that I may never understand. I simply have to keep moving forward and realize that some people, no matter how much we love them, aren’t meant to be in our lives.

What hurts more than anything, I think, is watching your best friend become a stranger and realizing that maybe you never really knew them at all.

So today I walked through the woods as if my life depended on it.

I walked until the cold didn’t bother me and I stripped off my flannel and rolled up my sleeves.

I walked until my head spun, and until it stopped spinning.

I walked until I had the unwavering feeling that everything was going to be okay.

It already is.