“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
– Hal Borland
Ahh. ‘Tis the season.
The holidays. The time for joy. The time for sharing. The time to look around and appreciate the ones you love – hold them close to you and thank your lucky stars that they are in your life. You know, all that warm fuzzy stuff. Awwww.
It’s the time of year that makes it painfully obvious when one of those “people that you love”…is missing. And you know what especially stings? When that person who is missing during this happy holiday season, is missing by choice.
I talk about my happy relationship a lot on this blog. And it is very much that…a happy relationship. Yes, we have our ‘down’ times just like any relationship does. But, even during those times, we both know how very lucky we are to have each other. We are in a loving, committed, and most importantly, an equal relationship that makes us both feel fulfilled and excited and hopeful for a long future together. And I wonder sometimes how other people see these things I say about our life together, especially those who are recently single or who are just generally ‘unattached’ for whatever the reason. I’m sure they look at what I say the same way I used to look at it when other people would say it. Which was, “Well yeah, that’s great that this happening for you, lady, but it’s not like that for all of us. You’re just one of the lucky ones. Every story doesn’t have a cute little ending, Miss Happy Pants.”
Well, guess what? I’m with ya, sista. (Or brotha, as the case may be.) I am – I completely hear what you’re saying. And you know why?
Because it certainly hasn’t always been this way.
I was just looking through some old pictures from Christmases in the not-so-distant past, and I came across this picture of my kids and me from the Christmas season of 2009, just four short years ago. We sure do look happy, don’t we? But I’m gonna tell you a secret. See that smile on my face?
Yep. It sure is. It’s about as fake as a smile can get. Now, I’m not saying being there with my kids didn’t make me happy. It did. But as you can tell from the way I have my hands placed on them, I was holding on to them for dear life. They were my anchors in the storm that my life was going through. Behind that smile, there was so much hurt. So much pain. So much uncertainty and confusion. And most of all, so much sadness. I was going through a time that I sometimes thought I was not going to make it through.
What was happening, you ask? Well, it’s simple.
My heart was broken.
In one of my previous blogs, I referenced what I like to call my “breakup bible.” It’s the book, It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and his wife Amiira. (If you’re hurting over the end of a relationship, go read it. Like, now. Trust me on this.) So, in this breakup bible of mine, there is the following quote:
“Being brokenhearted is like having broken ribs. On the outside, it looks like nothing is wrong, but every breath hurts.”
Holy crap, is there so much truth to that. It’s hard to function in any of your day-to-day activities when you can’t even take a breath without pain. And that’s how I felt. People can minimalize the pain of a breakup all day long, but I’ll be the first to call “BS” on that nonsense. Heartbreak friggin hurts. Bad. And that’s how I was feeling during the Christmas of 2009. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but I’ve been divorced twice. Yep, you read that right. Twice. My first marriage was to my children’s father, and that ended years ago, back when my babies were just little. We were both young and got swept up in the family life before we were ready. That kind of thing happens, ya know.
But my second marriage? Yeah, I can’t blame youth on that one. And I can’t blame getting married out of some sort of ‘necessity.’ No baby was on the way or anything along those lines. Nothing was ‘forcing’ us to get married. I also can’t blame it on poor planning. We dated for over three years before finally deciding to get married. To be honest, I can’t blame my choice to get married to him on anything other than the fact that I loved him. I did. I loved him, he loved me, and we thought we were going to build a life together, regardless of the statistical odds that we were facing.
Well. We were wrong.
After all that planning, after those years of dating, and after all of the conversations about how we weren’t going to be one of the statistics, we became just that. Another statistic. And it hurt.
No, that’s putting it too mildly. It didn’t just hurt. It was excruciating. This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill relationship breakup. This was the breakup of a marriage. The breakup of a newly-formed family (we both had kids from our previous marriages). This was a decision that affected us all to the core of our beings. And that picture up there that I showed you? That picture was taken about a month after I had moved out of the home we shared and into my own little trailer. It was the only thing I could find that I could afford. I was starting from scratch. Again. I sure didn’t see that coming on the day I took those vows. (Do we ever?)
But now, let’s skip to Christmas 2013. Four years later.
Here we are. Richard and I and our kids. All together. All healed and happy and ready to face the future. Here I am doing exactly what I swore I’d never do. Not only was I not going to fall in love again, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to fall in love with a man with kids. You can read all the self-help books in the world about how it feels to lose a relationship or a marriage, but I can guarantee you that there isn’t much out there to help you through the pain of losing step-kids. Once my marriage ended, so did my ties to his children. And I was going to make certain I would never fall in love with a man’s kids again like I fell in love with them.
But I was wrong.
I think I fell in love with Richard’s kids before I fell in love with him, to tell you the truth. And I’m not so sure it didn’t happen the same way for Richard with my kids. And Richard had the same reservations I did. He was hurting from a previous loss as well. Even if he hadn’t told me, I could see it on his face. He was just like me…he had made all the same promises to himself that I had made. No more relationships. No more commitments. No more love. It’s just too darn painful.
Ha! Well, look how that turned out.
I don’t know you, and I don’t know your specific situation. My readers are as diverse as any set group of individuals always are. But if you’re one of the ones who is getting ready to face this holiday season alone after the end of a relationship, this blog is for you. All I want you to know is this.
It really truly does. The future that you think you won’t have with anyone else? You’re wrong. It’s there. That relationship bliss that you think is reserved for big-mouth redheads with their own blog? You’re wrong there too. It’s waiting for YOU. Yes, you. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day down the line, it’s going to be your turn. If someone would have told me that back during the Christmas of 2009, I would have said the same thing to them that you’re thinking right now. That kind of thing is for other people, not for me. And I would have been just as wrong as you are.
Just as wrong.
I am writing this blog with one particular person in mind, but as I have seen from many of the other things that I have written, we are never ever alone in our struggles. For this one person’s pain, there are millions more who are feeling it too. We are all connected and that pain that you feel is reserved for only you, isn’t. The pain isn’t yours alone, and the happiness isn’t mine alone. These are just seasons. We all get a turn. The world keeps spinning, even when you feel like it shouldn’t.
So keep on keepin’ on, my friends. Your happy may be just around the corner.
“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.”
– Arnold H. Glasow