The last half of February was really difficult for me. Not so much in my daily tasks or anything, but just my overall mental wellbeing. The days felt longer, harder, and just overall more psychologically exhausting. I haven't really discussed it (my mental health) on the blog because, well, I didn't blog for a while. And because being open and vulnerable on the internet is scary. The past 2 years have been full of personal transformation, but all of it started by finally getting the courage to put myself into regular therapy in April 2015.
I had spent the previous 3 months barely able to hold on - sometimes finding the task of existing to just be too much. This blog is somewhat telling as my posting frequency and enthusiasm was at a steady decline. I was at home with an infant 24/7, trying to juggle Linden's needs alongside Toby's, watching my marriage start to slip away. I struggled for months before having the strength to do something about it. It was when I realized that I was incapable of trusting myself, despite my intuition never faltering, that I knew I needed someone else's help. In a desperate attempt to salvage my family, I convinced Mike to go to therapy with me. At least for a few months. He obliged, though it didn't always produce the positive results I was hoping for. After a couple of months we felt like our relationship was "okay" enough and that it would be a more productive use of time to focus on myself during these appointments, so he stopped going with me. I spent the next several months in weekly appointments, poring my heart out, grieving my marriage that was unraveling still. We were happy intermittently, and we really did love each other, but it wasn't enough to sustain us. Even on days where we were affectionate and in love, I still often felt an emptiness. It was through my therapist that I started practicing how to be mindful - mindful of all things, all decisions, all situations. And with that I learned (eventually) how to be mindfully unattached. I found freedom in letting things be the way they were, rather than the way I thought they should/could be. I started accepting peoples' actions and intentions without feeling like I needed to fix them simply because I knew they could be "better" - or simply more like how I wanted them to be. And I finally stopped looking at my relationship as if it were the same as it had been in our earlier years. I found peace knowing I could accept whatever was ahead of me - even if I didn't quite know how just yet.
It was almost a year to the day after I started therapy that our marriage finally ended for good. I had spent the past 12 months preparing myself mentally and emotionally for all of this. I knew it had to happen because 1 full year of counseling later and I still couldn't accept where we were and what all had happened. I couldn't trust him and I still couldn't quite trust myself. It had been such a long journey - an exhausting one full of tears and midnight phone calls to best friends across the country. I was tired, and I was still hurting despite every attempt to bandage the wounds. It all came to an end one afternoon when the disconnect was finally too much to bear. "Our marriage is over, isn't it?" was all that needed to be said. We were calm, we didn't cry, we simply accepted. It felt (and still does feel) like the biggest defeat of my life. It hurt, but I also felt free. And just like that we started to construct our lives apart from one another. I spent the next 4 months in therapy still, navigating my new role as a single mom, and waiting with baited breath for Toby's adoption to go through. Once Toby's adoption was finalized it was like my entire world opened up again. I had learned to start trusting myself again, knowing I wasn't "crazy" and that my intuition had never failed me, no matter how many times I refused to believe it. It was during this time, when everyone expected me to be broken, that I started to flourish. I had spent the past year mourning the death of my marriage, and finally closing that chapter meant I was free to grow and explore and experience new things. The truth is my marriage ended in April 2015, but it took both my mind and heart that long to let go and be okay with it. For some outsiders it may look like I didn't grieve long enough - that I went straight from a marriage to dating - but the truth is rarely as it seems. Finally ending my marriage felt like I was giving my heart permission to move on.
My regular therapy sessions became a bit more spread out - every week turned into every other. Then came our very last session as my therapist was moving practice and I had finally completed a full appointment without crying. It was a bittersweet ending. I grew to truly trust and appreciate my therapist. There are no words to express how much she helped me overcome. I was, and am, so grateful for her still. The past year of being a single mom, navigating divorce and parenting plans, coming to terms with another woman loving my children, has been a rough one. Literally nothing about the process has been easy (for any of us). But it feels like we've finally found a rhythm that works for us all, at least for now. Despite the obstacles I've felt myself grow and transform and actually be happy. It's amazing how different your life can be when you're not chained by depression and heartache. That's not to say I don't still hurt - I do, regularly. That's probably why it's taken me so long to even talk about it at all. I told myself I might discuss it once I was over it, but I've since realized I'll never quite be over it. There will be days where I can tell my story, in its entirety, even the really really messy parts, and be fine. Then there are days where not having "my family" feels like a dagger to the heart all over again. That's not to discount the three of us being family, because we obviously are, and the four of us are still a family in ways, but I just never thought we'd be where we are, so some days it's still a bitter pill to swallow. It's a strange line to toe... being the happiest I've ever been (because I'm happy with myself for once), but some days still falling into the pit of "what could have been." Depression is one of those tricky beasts... often like a bear in hibernation, tucked away for a while, totally unassuming. However it's when the beast is woken the destruction begins. That's kind of where I've been the past few weeks. Feeling a little defeated and broken and lost and just overall tired. The triggers are often different - this time being partially attributed to body image - but they often produce the same results. I retreat inside myself, often abandoning the blog/social media, and sometimes finding it hard to even function. It's something that I've been able to recognize though, and that's in no small part thanks to my therapist. Once I recognize what's happening, I'm often able to mindfully navigate my way out of it, or at the very least make it more tolerable. But sometimes it's just too heavy of a burden to bear so I have to simply wait for it to pass. That's where I've been the past couple of weeks. Just waiting for it to pass.
I know talking about it sometimes helps, so here I am... talking about it I guess. Mental health is something we often overlook or stigmatize, but therapy has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. My physical transformation could not have happened without my mental transformation first. Both of these are things I have to work at every. single. day. but I realize that with time, patience and perseverance that things really can look quite different in the end. I've replaced regular therapy with regular gym time, and that often gives me the chance to just be with my thoughts - or not. Sometimes I think about nothing at all. But I don't think my mental wellbeing will ever be something I can just let be. I think it's something I will have to be mindful of for the rest of my life - for reasons just like the past couple weeks. Contentment comes and goes, but now I finally know I have the strength to face it head on. I let the fear of judgment and the unknown stop me from seeking help when I first needed it. Could/would things be different had I sought out therapy earlier? Who knows. I'm okay with not knowing. Right now I'm simply focused on today. One day at a time. And in an effort to best address the emotional turmoil Toby must feel, I started him in regular therapy a couple of months ago. He loves going to his appointments and I truly feel it has helped him open up and understand some of what he's feeling. I know I'll have a long road with ahead with him, but I've promised to stick by him every step of the way. Mental health is something that should be prioritized for everyone, in my opinion. Even children. (Though I absolutely see the privilege in that - It's simply my wish that mental health counseling was easier for folks to access - both literally and figuratively.)
Not sure what the point of all of this was, to be honest. But it feels good to get some of it off my chest. I know there are a lot of questions and theories floating around so, maybe this will address at least a couple of them. And yea, these outfit photos have absolutely nothing to do with this post, but hey, that dress is cute, right? Ha.
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