We all come to a point in our life where we need to evaluate and make changes. I’ve been doing this for months. It started with my separation from my husband almost two years ago. Something I thought would last forever fell apart. In fact, I learned that what I thought we had wasn’t even real, that I was no more important to him than clothes he’d outgrown and never had been.

This is a harsh lesson to learn. Especially when you’ve devoted your life to loving and supporting someone. Especially when you’ve been avoiding learning this for the entirety of your relationship. I don’t blame him, entirely, that’s the thing. I saw the signs. He told me in a multitude of ways that he didn’t think much of me and I stubbornly refused to see it. So, when I did, it was a double slap because what I’d always secretly been afraid of for years, was true. He really didn’t want me.

For a while after leaving, I was simply broken. I had no faith, no confidence, and no desire to think about anything loftier than what I was going to eat for dinner. I told myself to just build a life, any life. I told myself to be happy with whatever meager things I could scrape together out of the ashes. And that worked, for a while. Because I was wounded and hurting, I couldn’t handle much more than a life full of hamster wheels and people who didn’t require me to be anything resembling intelligent.

That changed last November. The events which triggered this sudden introspection aren’t important; it could have been anything that startled me out of my sullen silence. One thing I can guarantee is that, if you get stuck in a cycle, eventually the universe will drop a piano on your head to shake you out of it. As one of my favorite characters says in my new book, you can’t sulk forever. The time for nursing my wounds was over. Since then, I’ve been looking for ways to make the dreams I’ve had since I was eighteen come true. I’ve been making plans and sketching out ideas. Some of them are working, some got abandoned. Sometimes I find a handhold and, other times, I slip back a few rungs. The point is, I’m moving up the ladder.

I am fighting for the thing I know I’m meant to do – writing – and I am doing it the way I should have done it years ago. I’m taking online classes – mostly free, right now, but that will change – and I’m working on my weak points. I’m over-riding my natural tendency to hide and making new friends. I’m planning on going to conventions and workshops. I’m looking for any and every way to get better at what I do and build a tribe that believes in me. And I’m also embracing my spirituality. I have always believed in something greater than myself and, now, I am searching for the path that works for me best; if you want to be a success, you need balance in all things.

I am also doing something that, for me, has been a challenge throughout my life. I’m learning to speak declaratively and stand firm in my beliefs. I’ve always been extremely open-minded and this sometimes leads to me being easily swayed. I was never exactly weak-minded, just the sort of person who let others show them a different way to see a situation. This last thing is something I’m only recently recognizing as a problem. I have discovered it is fine to be open minded. But, when people are trying to justify something that is utterly wrong on a moral level as right, they really do deserve someone who does not see it their way. They deserve a piano on their head.

This is what I really want you to take away from this post, though. We all go through times of great struggle. For some, it is the sort of heartbreak that feels like it cracks your entire soul down the middle. For others, it is losing everything. For a few, it is just waking up one morning and realizing that everything they thought was true was a lie. A lot of people see these catastrophic events as reason to give up, to stop trying. Or, worse,  decide to commit suicide because nothing can or will get any better. And I am here to tell you that you are wrong.

Think of the caterpillar. He’s going along, munching leaves, completely okay with this life of mundane repetition because, hey, he’s a worm, right? That’s what worms do. Then something happens. An event that, if you were to see only that, would look pretty frightening, right? I mean, this cute, fuzzy little guy melts. Like, total goo city. Think about that. Really, really think. Because I know that, when I got home, that is sort of how I felt. I was melted down to just this primordial ooze that could barely get out of bed in the morning, never mind think about writing or creativity. I was utterly broken. I didn’t think it could ever really get better. Then November of last year came and I realized that I didn’t want to stay that way. I realized that, while I was in my cocoon, feeling guilty and angry about all my ooziness, something had been happening. I’d been piecing myself back together again. And what is emerging is no longer the same person.

Great pain happens. My words to you are ‘allow it’. Feel your pain, understand it. Let yourself become ooze, if you have to. Cry. Buy all the Ben and Jerry’s Walmart has to offer. Kick, scream, hide under the bed and bite anyone that tries to pull you out. But don’t give up. Because, sometimes, what looks like the end of a life is really the beginning of another one. Change is difficult and not one of us really wants it, so we dig our feet in and try to run right back to the same old thing. The trick here is, you have to choose to move beyond this. You have to choose to fight your way out of the cocoon and you have to accept this changed life. I won’t promise you that it’s easy or that you won’t backslide sometimes. But, if you have the courage to claim your life, I will promise that it will get better.

I am not being a snowflake here. I’m not trying to convince you that the sun will always come out and shine down on you. You have to go chase the sun, sometimes. And, yes, this requires strength and faith. But understand. If you set your mind on gaining happiness, then you will. You cannot escape pain and misery in life, but you can choose to let it form you, rather than destroy you. You can choose to build wings out of your personal wreckage. Maybe you are like me and you have no idea where those wings will take you, but does it matter? It will be an adventure and who could ask for more than that?

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