How have you been doing in recent months?
First off, please allow me to extend my deepest and most appreciative heartfelt thanks to all those who reached out to me in the months spanning my post about the sudden end of my nearly 18-year marriage and the present day.
Your soul-touching support, compassion, kindness, empathy, relaying of personal stories involving your own very difficult relationship issues and breakups over the years, and so much more have bolstered + helped me a good deal (and still continue to, for that matter).🙏💗
Secondly, in the midst of everything that has been transpiring in my life lately, I completely forgot that back in the late spring/early summer, I penned and scheduled some blog posts which were originally intended to go live in either July or August.
In the midst of contending with the unforeseen events of July 2022, I ended up bumping them ahead all the way to December and then promptly (and, I think you will agree, rather understandably!) 110% forgetting that I had done so.
It wasn’t until I saw a flurry of new blog comments suddenly come in recently that I realized these long auto-scheduled posts had unintentionally gone live this month. 😱
My bad all the way!
Not that there is anything wrong with sharing these posts now (or at any point in time). There certainly is not.
It is just that I fully intended for my first post since this past July to be a brief life update, not a project share or other type of entry.
Therefore, I sincerely apologize that things played out how they did. Just as I do to all those readers who I know were wondering why a life update post had not happened before I launched back into more of my usual type of blogging content.
With those points said, please allow me to now give you a little overview of how some things have unfolded for me in recent months.
In the time since the post about the sudden breakdown of my marriage, I was very fortunate to find housing for myself and (my dog) Annie. 🏡🐶
After a ton of searching and applying to various rental properties across much of the Okanagan and Lower Shuswap Valleys, I was extremely fortunate to ultimately sign a lease on a lovely little townhouse all to ourselves.
It is located in a larger town roughly 25 minutes away from the small, rural community of Armstrong, BC, where Tony and I had been residing since moving there together in early 2018.
Working largely at the same breakneck speed I had undertaken throughout July and early August to get our entire house packed up, spic-and-span clean, staged for viewings, listed for sale, and so forth, from mid-August to mid-September, I quickly unpacked and set up my new home.
It was – and still is – tremendously strange, sad, and foreign feeling for me to assemble the trappings of each room of a house that is simply for myself (and Annie). Every home from the second half of 2004 onward until this summer was one that Tony and I shared as husband and wife. 💔
As the summer wore on, the initial state of mind-blowing shock, the gargantuan sudden upsets to my life, and the intense feelings of unprecedented blindsidedness began to decrease.
Naturally, though, a vast amount of internal pain, grief, longing, trauma processing, and life rebuilding remain part of my daily world and will no doubt continue to for quite some time still to come.
One does not have the proverbial rug of a marriage they cherished and believed would be eternal – coupled, moreover, with the loss of the person they love/loved, valued, cared about, respected, desired, would have done almost anything for, and trusted more than anybody else in the world – pulled out from under them and magically bounce back with the dexterity of a rubber band.
Far from it.
The thought occurred to me recently that my initial unfathomably brutal heartache and emotional/mental/physical/spiritual pain was/is akin to a very serious acute injury. And, you know, in many ways it is.
However, as time leaps ever forward and the disbelief, marathon cries that often spanned or totaled anywhere from 5 – 14+ hours per day in the initial months (I still continue to cry frequently, though especially long periods of weeping are not, at present, as common for me as they were in the summer and early fall), and the bigger picture of the reality that is my current life all came to be, that pain has gradually morphed into a state that could be looked upon more as a chronic illness of sorts.
(As someone who has been a fighter of over 15 different serious chronic illnesses for more than two decades now, I know from which I speak.)
That does not automatically mean this state of internal health and, likewise, that of my life, in general, will remain entrenched in the deepest, darkest bowels of heartache, grief, longing, and endless reflections on the past for all of time.
And yet, that said, one never fully gets over trauma of this magnitude. A loss this hard-hitting, devastating, and brutally painful.
The experience of witnessing the person I would have gladly taken a bullet for walk out of my/our life in the blink of a tear-filled eye.
The dissipation of a future I firmly believed would be shared and treasured together and the overall pain of an ordeal this earth-shattering will remain with me – at least in part – always.
As, personally, I believe these things (and many others related to this year’s events) should.
In surviving the most hellacious, stressful, hurtful, and challenging periods of our lives, we (hopefully!) learn, grow, and come to see life through wider eyes and with an even more tender heart.
In a ton of different ways, I am a radically different person today than I was before the events of this past July.
Many positive changes have happened organically, others were a conscious decision to approach things in a better, healthier/healing light. And plenty more still were a blend of both organic and conscious efforts.
For, never have I hurt more.
Never have I grown more in the span of just a few brief months.
Never have I longed for anyone (Tony) or anything (our marriage) more in my entire life. Not by the length of the universe.
Never have I so bravely taken hold of the reigns of a profoundly difficult situation and been able to re-establish my basic needs (i.e., safe housing) again as quickly.
Never have I yearned to turn back the hands of time and with the crystal-clear clarity of hindsight alter the past (for the better) more than in the wake of this summer’s crushing events.
Never have I been stronger.
Never have I wished more that an event (the – from my perspective at least – incredibly abrupt end of our beloved, sacred, one-of-kind marriage) in my/our life had not occurred (and that it would never have occurred, in an ideal world).
Never, for months on end, have I consciously had to choose quite as hard to some-inexplicable-how keep going when I was certain that death would hurt (me) infinitely less than what I was enduring in that excruciatingly difficult moment.
Never have I pined for someone even 1/1,000,000,000 as much as I do for Tony.
I wake up every day and continue to expect him to be right there beside me (or at least under the same roof). I experience something comparable to a phantom limb-like sensation of his hand in mind, feel his strong, protective arms around my body and his tender lips upon my own.
I hear his gorgeous Italian voice and his wonderfully infectious laugh. Feel the warmth of his soul reverting joyfully in synch with mine, see the wise and witty twinkle in his deep chocolate-hued eyes, listen to him pull into the driveway, snuggle together as we watch our favourite movies and TV series, face each of life’s challenges and positives alike as a mighty, love fuelled couple.
These things and countless others echo throughout my every breath and heartbeat.
With a few exceptions, though (for example, thankfully the two of us have remained on amicable terms and do interact periodically for various reasons, so I still get to see and hear Tony in person from time to time), I am phenomenally, soul-crushingly aware of the fact that they are no more. 😥
And that, in turn, somehow I must – and already am – find(ing) the ability to exist without them. Without Tony as my darling husband, my lover, my best friend, my rock, my soulmate. Just as I must go on without our shared existence.
Both despite and, I firmly believe, because of the highly challenging difficulties of this year, I’ve actually made massive positive strides on the mental health front.
(I have experienced major depression, various types of anxiety, and some PTSD for much of my entire life. Though, mercifully, at this point in time, I’ve almost entirely healed from the latter. 🙏)
As a result, ironically, it could be said, I am currently in a healthier, more stable place on the mental health front than I have been in longer than I can precisely recall (think 10+ years – if not more like 20+ years).
From late September (2022) onward, I have begun to experience days of zero depression (often coupled with a huge reduction in anxiety as well).
Zip, zilch, nil, nada. Not a single iota.
I had all but completely forgotten what a state of being completely free of depression felt like.
It is, in some respects, akin to breathing pure air of the cleanest and freshest variety after decades of existing on bottled oxygen.
Not every day is completely depression free (yet?). However, even when that all-too-familiar state of mental being resurfaces, it almost always does so at a drastically lower level than what had become long become my norm for many years.
Whereas countless periods throughout my life were spent somewhere between 7 – 10 on the depression scale (with ten being the highest possible level), these days when it pops up here and there, it does so in the 1 – 2.5, maybe 3, max, range.
In fact, it is so drastically reduced that I am finding these sorts of vastly lower levels of depression/melancholy have little to no impact whatsoever as far as I can perceive on my internal state, my day-to-day life, my interactions and relationships with others, and plenty of other things both big and small alike.
I routinely stop and marvel at this previously unimaginable change (sometimes it brings me to the point of shedding tears of happiness and gratitude). This current mental health miracle and the renewed zest for life (relative to everything that has been going on as of late) that it has firmly instilled in me once more.
That said, I am very aware that mental health challenges rarely follow a linear path. Be it in terms of their development or, when possible, their treatment/lessening/remission/healing.
Therefore, I fully accept that there may be (and feel that I am now considerably better prepared to face) potential future spikes in my depression, should they occur going forward from this year.
It is safe to say that there are usually myriad factors that contribute to a person experiencing serious ongoing depression (for me, most of my depression has always been situationally caused). And likely there are just as many – if not more – that must go into its reduction for those who experience this very real, very life-impacting mental health battle.
While, OF COURSE!!!, depression is obviously not something one can turn on or off like a light switch (far from it), I do think that in a fair number of instances there are steps that can be undertaken to help lessen its severity.
Personally, I knew that if I had a snowball’s chance of not only somehow surviving, but in time (I hope and pray with every ounce of my being) thriving again, it would be borderline impossible for me to do so while living on my own if my depression + anxiety were raging out of control.
Without the aid of any harmful substances, risky or self-destructive behaviours, or various other negative choices one could opt for, as I started to gradually piece my world back together again, I reexamined not only my life + myself in general but also my mental state.
In doing so, I began to realize there were quite a few mindsets, approaches to life, thought processes, elements of my daily existence, and so forth that were contributing undesirably to my mental health that I could either part ways with entirely or reduce/alter significantly enough for them to further help improve the innermost workings of my ol’ grey matter. 🧠
Recently, I wrote something to my dear sister, which I feel fits perfectly in the course of this post as well. Thus, I am going to share it essentially verbatim with all of you as well.
Every now and then, YouTube suggests a clip from the TV show Hoarders to me and I will sometimes watch it when that occurs.
In one of them I saw somewhat recently, a clinical psychologist they have featured many times over the years (Dr. Robin Zasio) said a line that resonated with me immediately: “I don’t know why people have to get so broken to heal, but that’s what happened with you.”
She spoke these words in relation to the hoarder they were trying to help, but I feel like that statement applies immensely to me as well.
In what surely stands as the most painfully ironic series of events in my entire life, it would take being shattered into billions upon billions of infinitesimally small pieces and experiencing pain so searing it would make swimming in molten lava feel like doing a polar bear dip by comparison to start healing/improving some of the most challenging aspects of my existence.
The past 5.5 months have been the absolute worst, most difficult, painful, stressful, and heartbreaking of my entire existence by an enormous mile. Virtually nothing of any importance about them has felt right, familiar, normal, comforting, easy, or complete.
Sometime around late August, however, a thought occurred to me that I had never really had before.
Just about every time prior in my entire life when something massive had come along that shattered my/our world (or a shattered a solid chunk of it at least), my gut instinct was to immediately scramble to put the pieces back together as close to the way they had been arranged before that event occurred.
(One example of this is how in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 arson fire, without even stopping to give it conscious consideration, I instinctually thought that I needed to start building up a vintage/repro wardrobe again without pausing to ask myself if that was actually what my heart most wanted to do at that point in time.)
Objectively, I think that this reaction and approach are innate to most humans and that they are not necessarily bad/negative things in many instances.
The thought that struck me like a million tsunami waves crashing into my mind at the same time was, “What if instead of trying to piece back together everything that is shattered, you held onto the best/most important parts and strove to rearrange, remove, or replace, as applicable, the rest?”.
It was – and is – a concept both plainly simple and extraordinarily challenging. And yet, that is precisely what I have attempted – and will continue to actively do – to the best of my abilities.
I could easily fill a book the size of which would give War and Peace a run for its money discussing elements of this year’s life-altering events.
Sometimes though, it is best to know when to put the breaks on for the present moment and I feel like the above paragraphs are a solid place to do just that.
Now, those two (again) completely unintentionally published project share posts + this one itself aside, you may be wondering about my long-term plans for this blog. 🤔
I have not reached a point yet in my healing/trauma processing/life-rebuilding journey that would even begin to facilitate engaging in our wonderful blogging community + posting at my pre-July 2022 level again (which averaged 4 – 6 entries per month).
And though my new dedicated craft space has been set up since this September, I have not created a single paper crafting project since before this summer’s devastating events.
I will not make any promises at the moment regarding my blogging plans/schedule in the near to quasi-near future. That would not be fair to either of us.
However, what I will say is that, if possible, I would like to *try* to post at least one new entry here roughly every 4 – 10ish weeks throughout the initial (and possibly longer than that) months of 2023. 🙂
So whether I one day return to a similar pre-marriage-breakdown blog posting level or opt to share entries here somewhat less frequently, in the long run, I do intend to put more new content up on this site. Yay! 🥳
That is a welcome thought which makes me smile on a great many levels (as does thinking about the day when my MIA paper crafting mojo returns).
Thank you all again beyond words for your kind, extremely caring support and understanding in recent months.
I am certain that this year would have been notably more challenging for me were it not for your thoughtfulness. 🙏
Let me wrap up this post (hey, wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a small life update? Evidently, in true Autumn form, I couldn’t stop at just a tiny handful of paragraphs 😄) by wishing all of you the sweetest, safest, happiest, healthiest, and most magic(k)al of holiday seasons.
Whatever you celebrate, whatever you hold dear, whatever brings you inner joy this month, may these things and many other positives number more for you than all of the snowflakes that will tumble to the ground across the world this chilly season.
Merriest festive season and nothing but the best and brightest to each of you for 2023! ❄️🎄🤍🎄❄️