Five years ago, this month, my life was very different.
I lived about a block away from my current apartment. I had just backed out of my (until then) dream job–which I had devoted countless hours to. I was in a pretty crappy relationship that I didn’t quite realize was crappy until it was over. I had just accepted a job I knew was wrong for me. I was pursuing a degree in a field I knew wasn’t the best match. My health was suffering–and I had no idea what was causing it. And I just had my sweet Cleo.
Five years ago, my life unraveled. My ex broke up with me and moved half a country away–with zero warning. I was laid off from that job that wasn’t right–that I hated. My landlord filed for bankruptcy, and the bank foreclosed on all her properties–including my apartment. I had to find a new place to live. I had to find a new job. I had to find my inspiration.
It wasn’t pretty. In one year, I was laid off from three jobs, moved, got turned down by my first choice for a degree that was also wrong for me, got into a good program that I couldn’t pursue because money was too tight, and ended up postponing my plans to move to the east coast.
In a word: devastating.
When my mother died, I had a fear of losing everything. Of being without any kind of safety net.
That year? I lost everything. No safety net anywhere.
And, yet, I kept waking up. I kept surviving.
I leaned on the friends who had always been there in their ways. I met new people to love and cherish. I let go of crappy people. I watched a lot of TED talks. I found this apartment. I dodged bullets. I kept going.
It was a big mess for a long time. It sucked more than I could possibly say. And I was scared pretty much every single day. Terrified is probably a better word for it. Some days, I had no idea how I’d get through the next five minutes.
Life went on. And it got better. Different.
I kept going. There was nothing else to do.
The bills got paid. I fell in love faster than I had any right to. I fell out of love and fell in love again and again. Each time? Stronger and better for it. I let love in more. I made new friends. Got another cat. Smiled more.
I found my heart and my soul. I found the voice I’d lost in that shitty relationship–in that shitty time. I found light in shadows. I found Alma. Who I thought I was. What I thought I lost. And I was surprised by who I COULD be.
It got better.
Back then, all I wanted was certainty. Not happiness. Just someplace safe to lay down. I didn’t find it in the places I thought I would. I found it in my friend’s soothing laugh as I bawled my eyes out on the 16th Street Mall. In his never forgetting my birthday. I found it in the dark. I found it in sweet Cleo rolling around the carpet of my new apartment. In plants I suddenly had room to grow. I found it with the friends I made in the not right jobs and classes. I found it every day when I’d listen to birds singing.
Somehow, still here. Not obliterated.
Worst nightmares have a way of coming true–and they often exorcise the boogeymen only our imaginations can conjure.
Few things are certain, but the ones that are? They’re sure as Hell comforting things.
Since then, I’ve learned some things about myself. Terrifying, amazing things. I’m still afraid of a lot of things, but nothing really paralyzes me anymore.
I’ve learned to have a vision for myself and to just keep showing up. I’ve learned that five years–with all its detours–is the difference between death and life.
My vision for myself came true today. The first step in a line of many small steps that will get me somewhere else. The somewhere else may change. That’s life. But I’m in a position now where anything is possible. Life on my terms.
Five years ago? That person I was couldn’t imagine this day or the contentment that comes with having faith that continuing to walk will get you somewhere.
But this girl can. And so, I keep walking.