The cooler, crisper air of Fall has somehow brought with it some better days for me. I’ve been visiting the horse stable regularly and D, the owner, has put me to work, much like old times. I’ve also inherited the church library and have somehow managed to get myself involved in helping with both the stable’s and the church’s websites. All that, along with work, has kept me pretty busy. It’s been good. Busy is good. Busy beats sitting at home alone feeling sorry for myself.
The Spring and Summer were filled with days like that. Days where I was challenged to even get out of my bed in the morning. Days when adopting a hermit lifestyle was so tempting and seemed so easy to slip into. Days when I’ve felt pretty hopeless about life, about my purpose, about my plans, about my friends, about my family… pretty much about everything. Sometimes I wondered if I just disappeared, would anyone care… or at the very least, even notice.
These last few seasons and several months have brought both realizations and reminders.
It’s been pretty sobering to realize that the only reliable person in my life who constantly cares and is always there is my wonderful mother. Without her, I don’t know where I would be right now. Her patience with me and her willingness to do whatever she could for me is beyond comprehension and has astounded me every step of the way.
But I realize too, that without her I would be special to nobody. I’m not anyone’s wife or mother. I pretty much don’t consider myself anyone’s sister or aunt (despite the fact that I am biologically) since I rarely have a chance to put those roles/titles to use. The extended family and I have never been deeply connected and close. And I have found, unfortunately, that no matter how great you think your friends are… friendships have limitations, and often times, expiration dates.
Yep, I have found that I’m pretty much alone in this great big world. I really think I’ve always known that truth, which is why I have developed such an independent spirit over my lifetime… but while I’ve known it, I’m not sure I’ve ever truly felt it until these last 10 months or so.
But Fall has been better. The tides have turned a little. The busyness that I’ve started to put back in my life has helped me to not wallow in my sadness and loneliness too long. It keeps me moving forward, and moving forward is better than not moving at all. Even if it does come gradually and in small increments. Because while I say the Fall has been better, it has brought with it some setbacks. The last two weeks have been especially tough for some reason. I’ve had really unbalanced swings of highs and lows.
On the one hand, I am very excited to be back at the horse stable. A place where nothing but positive memories are tied to the people and my experiences there. It’s been great getting caught up with D and learning the new horses. It’s been fun to ride again and work at improving my form. Being surrounded by Godly people in a special place where precious animals live and bring such joy to all who come in contact with them… well, there is just nothing better that I could do for myself.
I’ve also enjoyed a little time with a couple of friends, one visiting from Puerto Rico and another who took a trip with me to the mountains to raft the great Ocoee River and make smores over a campfire.
But… and here are the setbacks… even the horse stable brings some moments of difficulties. It is a place full of families, reminding me over and over again that I don’t have one of my own. Reminding me that I was headed down that road and in and instant… that all changed. I try hard to not let those feelings overshadow the joy that I do feel when I’m with D and the horses, but sometimes it gets the better of me.
My friend visiting from Puerto Rico… well, there was a party for him in town and once again, it was full of families. I, as always, am the single person in the room. And while they are all talking about their wives, husbands and children and their crazy, busy lives of schoolwork and soccer games, piano recitals and napping schedules, I’m simply left to listen and try my hardest not to act disinterested. Because I do care about my friends and their children. I really do. But I have nothing to contribute to conversations like this. I’m reminded again that I’m not a wife or a mother. I don’t know the first things about the busy life of a family or things like how to deal with a fussy baby that rarely sleeps. I can offer nothing in the way of advice or my own funny stories about these types of things. I can only listen. And when I only listen, my mind trails back to the fact that I was headed down the road where I would have been able to participate more fully in these types of conversations… I was, but now I’m not.
The trip to the mountains was terrific. The mountains were beautiful as the leaves were painted in vibrant reds and oranges in their final demonstration of life before they eventually turn brown and fall to the forest floor. The rafting and horseback riding was fun, the smores were delicious and the company was great. But, as it turns out, this was a trip package I had purchased before The Ex and I broke up for us to take as newlyweds after the wedding. So while I had a good time, it seemed like everything about the trip was a cold, hard slap to my psyche offering yet another reminder that I’m not where I thought I would be. Nothing against my friend, nothing against God’s gift of beautiful scenery and safe travels… but it’s just not how that trip was supposed to go. I couldn’t help but think with each experience how I was supposed to be sharing this with somebody else.
It didn’t help that several anniversaries are upon me. The day before the trip marked the seventh month since The Ex and I parted ways. A week later, there was the day that would have marked our fourth month as newlyweds had we married and the next day was one year since The Ex and I took our engagement photos. And in just a few days it will be the two year anniversary of the day we met.
I’m trying hard to not allow myself to focus on all of these anniversaries and reminders for too long, but it is so very difficult. I’m trying to focus, instead, on the precious love and support that my mother has given through each and every step of this process, not to mention my entire life. I’m trying to focus on the joy I feel every time I set foot on the gravely soil of the stable. I’m trying to focus on the good I can do at the stable and at the church by using skills I’ve learned over the years to help them with their day-to-day life and functions. I’m trying to focus on the people who truly care about me and my well-being, as few as they may be.
I’m trying to remind myself about all the positives in my life… because I do have them. They may be buried under some sadness and hurt, but they’re there. I am trying to remember to be grateful for those things. I’m trying to remind myself about God’s amazing, unending, all-encompassing love. The love that doesn’t make me a low priority. The love that doesn’t get mad. The love that doesn’t blame and hold grudges. The love that doesn’t leave.
Aside from my mother, His unconditional love is truly the only constant in my life and I’m trying to allow myself to realize it, to lean on it, and to appreciate it. God has seen me through this far. Through the early days of this grief when I was struggling to get out of bed each day to the days when anger filled my every moment, my every thought, my entire heart. The grief, the hurt, and the anger are all still there, but He’s bringing me through. I can feel it. I can feel it like I can feel the cooler, crisper air of Fall replace the hot, humid days of Summer.
The moving forward part may not happen as quickly as the change of seasons but it’s happening… God is walking with me, beside me, holding my hand, carrying me when I need Him to, embracing me when I feel hopeless and guiding me when I’m lost. He’s leading me to somewhere I’m unsure about. But I know wherever it is, no matter how out of control I feel or whether it’s anywhere I ever imagined or not, I can trust He’s got my best interests at heart. I may feel alone on this Earth, without a friend in sight, but He reminds everyday in some way or another that He’s never giving up on me, He’s never leaving me, and He feels that I’m so special I was worth dying for. I am undeserving of this kind of love. But He doesn’t care.
And despite my bad moments, my setbacks, and my sad reminders, I fully believe He’s using every second of my pain to teach me. Nothing is a waste, He uses everything for His good. These lessons I will carry with me always and He’s taking me to something that’s better than anything I could have imagined or planned for myself. Something greater than I could have ever hoped for… He’s using these reminders and the loss I’ve experienced in so many areas of my life to bring me to a deeper understanding and to create in me a grateful heart that will overflow with joy so that I can serve Him better and so I can be better…