There were 2 ways to go with this post - angry or introspective. I've chosen introspection. Sorry, there aren't any pictures of work, or lighthearted quotes. This is coming straight from my heart, and I hope that at some point it speaks to and helps someone else.
You don't get to choose the lessons you learn. Sometimes in the middle of trouble you think you know what lesson you will learn, or what you would like to learn. But you don't get to choose. The lessons come with time, with healing, with perspective. There's no passing grade on a test, there's no sudden recall of information that you can point to and say, "On this day I learned such-and-such about myself." There's a slow dawning. A gradual change in responses and behavior. A sudden realization that somewhere along the way you've learned and changed.
I've entered this wonderful-awful period of "one year ago today." Specifically, one year ago today, my ex-husband hinted that he was done with our marriage. It would take him another 5 days to actually tell me he wanted a divorce. One year ago today marks the beginning of 5 days of turmoil and pleading-prayers in the middle of the night. Of holding myself together, of being "strong" for everyone else. Of deciding what I would say if the "worst" happened, of preparing my bargains if it didn't. Of wishing I could just jump backwards to where everything was "normal" or forward to where everything is okay.
I really wasn't sure if I would ever write this post. But I started thinking about how differently I think about things from a year ago. One year ago today I was blindsided. I had no clue what he was talking about. I thought we were "totally happy." Looking back I can feel the tension and the anxiety, the unhappiness that was under the surface in my own heart. (This isn't a new revelation, I've known it for months. This is just the time I'm choosing to share it.)
One year ago today I thought the lessons I would learn were that I'm strong enough, I can get through anything, I don't have to depend on another person for my happiness (all of these are true). The lesson I thought I wanted to learn was about who I am as a person. But I found myself looking to rediscover who I was before I got married, when I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted but I didn't. It's hard to admit that I'd totally forgotten who that person was and what was important to her. Then I remembered that she was 21 years old and didn't know anything about anything!!
What I've truly learned (so far, I don't think 1 year is enough time for this to be complete) is that the things that were important to me on August 20 of last year will be important to me on August 22 of this year - one year and recollection of bad days can't take away my joy in making things with my hands, of watching my children discover new things about their world, of wanting to be valued, relied upon, loved. The wonderful part of this is that none of those things have changed! If anything I'm more focused on family, creating with my hands, and increasing my value in my own eyes. I'm less focused (I think) on what other people think of me. The defensiveness that marked far too many years of my life is dropping away, and I feel at peace with myself and my decisions!