ON THIS DAY … 5 YEARS AGO
I just stumbled upon this “on this day” flashback on facebook. This photo brings up a lot memories that now lurk mostly beneath the surface of consciousness and many intense feelings that I’d prefer to not relive … it’s almost painful for me to look at it. However, it’s probably the most poignant photo that I have of myself … not because of the picture itself (although Lisa is a pure genius and such a lovely soul – GO SEE HER if you need pics taken) … but because of the moment it captured.
It was taken in May 2013. Exactly one year after my marriage had ended in a swirl of chaos and confusion and deep wounds. I have only one tattoo at this point. The first one I chose. It says “abhaya” which is the sanskrit word for fearlessness. I had it permanently etched on my inner right forearm … my warrior arm … to remind myself that I could handle anything.
I could handle a full-time (and then some) job with a lot of responsibility. I could handle single parenting one of my teenaged stepsons who took a powerful stand with incredible consequences and chose to live with me. I could handle finding ways to support and stay connected to my other teenaged stepson who was the first of us to escape the madness and try to find some stability in his life. I could handle (almost) paying my bills every month despite the mountain of debt that had piled up in my name over 10 years of marriage. I could handle making sure that Sidney (our beautiful dog) had a good life and that I was giving back to him in gratitude for all he had done for the boys and I. I could handle the effort it took to rebuild myself – getting physically healthy, reconnecting with friends, finding pockets of goodness in each and every day, rediscovering my voice and my creativity, shedding layers and layers and layers.
I could handle breathing. That was tricky sometimes. For that first year after my marriage ended … I often felt like I was gasping for air. Literally and metaphorically. I was scrambling into the light after spending much too long in the darkness. This picture is proof that I could do it. My smile is still more of a “fake it til you can make it” smile than the genuine full of happiness smiles that started to come shortly after this was taken. At this point, it still took a lot of effort to smile. It was awkward. I was out of practice.
The photo also allows me to honour all of the people who journeyed with me – sometimes from behind the scenes, sometimes actively by my side, and sometimes leading and dragging me along into possibilities that I didn’t yet know or trust. My family, my friends, and my community. Although the year had been unimaginably hard, it had also been one of the best years of my life. Me, Myles, and Sid living in our sweet little apartment in kits surrounded constantly by good people and good energy … it’s still one of my favourite times. We healed and came back to life. The earth became solid beneath our feet once more and we created lives that fit who we were (separately and together).
Although I didn’t know it at the time, this photo captured a powerful milestone. The milestone of survival and reclamation.