Beauty In The Breakdown–Four Years Later

JesicaTMP-14

Another year…another anniversary of me leaving a country I called home, a man I referred to as my husband, and the only adult life I had ever known.

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been four years already (time surely does fly when you’re working on rebuilding yourself, creating a life that’s worth living, and reassuring yourself at least one hundred times that you’re going to be ok).

Each year I’ve written a blog on this anniversary (the anniversary of leaving my husband). For now, it’s the one I hold closest to my heart…I can’t remember the exact date I got married, or the day I moved to Germany, but I will always remember the day I moved “home.” In the past, this particular blog has gotten thousands of views and I accredit that to the title of 1. Why Leaving My Husband Was the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done, and 2.Why Leaving My Husband Is Still the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done — Three Years Later Although it’s clearly a popular title and it intrigues people to read what is on my heart, I’ve decided to switch things up for my fourth year anniversary.

That was my story then, and it will always be a part of my ongoing journey throughout life, but as it remains that’s no longer my present, simply a chapter (a rather long chapter) that I’ll now refer to as “Beauty in the Breakdown.” It’s a story about who you thought you once were vs. who you choose to become.

Do you remember growing up and listening to your parents tell you that you could be anything you wanted? Well, that’s still true to some degree. But, we do grow up, we get hurt, we get knocked down, and as a result we become fearful and even more vulnerable. In today’s society there’s more people telling us what we can’t do, rather that what we can.

As I’ve grown up, and continue to do so I find that my truest form of beauty comes from reinvention and the ongoing choice to continuously re-write, re-create, and change my proposed purpose.

Throughout the past four years, my exterior has certainly changed but it’s more about my interior and how it’s made the most improvement. A year ago, I had a difficult time attending weddings of friends that I hold dear to me, a year before that I wasn’t always able to process my feelings an in turn did everything humanly possible to mask the pain; I worked out way too much, had one to many drinks (ok, four or five) too many drinks at the bar while out with friends, I sobbed in the middle of the day for no reason asking myself “why me?” There were days when I felt empowered, and days when I literally wanted to quit life. I remember sitting on the couch across from my therapist asking when I’d get mad instead of sad, wondering if the immense amount of pain and confusion I was feeling would ever subside or if I’d just have to accept the overwhelming feeling of anxiety forever. Although she wasn’t able to answer my question with utmost certainty, she told me that as time went on, I’d begin to heal in various ways.

As I write this years anniversary blog, I still wholeheartedly believe that leaving my husband was the best thing I’ve ever done, but this year I’ve also come to the realization that there’s SO much more ahead of me; more struggles, more failures, more setbacks, more heartache — and as a result those hurdles may in fact become the best thing I’ve ever done…

I firmly believe that leaving a situation that I was so unhappy in, that ate away at me both mentally and physically, and that didn’t fill up my tank the way it needed to be filled was the best choice at the time, despite it feeling like the most gut-wrenching one.

Honestly, I didn’t know if I’d be ok, I didn’t know if I’d make it out alive, and I didn’t know what life after divorce would look like for me…if anything. Well, it’s been four years and I’m here to tell you that I’m better than ok. Yes, I’m human and have my days (even months) where I’m not 100% clear where I’m going or what direction I should be heading in, but I’ve never been so sure of my purpose, or my ability to create this magical space, and continue to share my story, to allow someone, anyone to see that they’re not alone.

I was afraid of the unknown, of uncertainty, of judgement of not being enough for him before, or myself after.  I was afraid to share any piece of my story, but I’m so, so glad I did, and I do. Similar to fitness; I didn’t know what was real and what was fake. Yet through the process of self-acceptance and self exploration, I stopped believing the myths that leaving behind the title of Mrs. would somehow make me less than, when in fact it made me more than– more than I ever thought possible.

If you think about it, we’re all in this together. So thank you (yes you), for having my back, I appreciate it, and I’ll continue to have yours by sharing my truths no matter how uncomfortable it may make me, in hopes that it will comfort someone else’s pain.

Let’s cut the bullshit and be honest about ourselves and our stories because once we do, we realize that our stories are what make us human, they’re what connect us to one another on a greater scale, and allow us to see just a glimpse of our potential purpose in this great big world we call home.

Sometimes, the most beautiful form of creativity comes from suffering. For me, each beautiful piece of artwork was birthed by failure, defeat, heartache and loss.

Jayel_Sig

PTSD

j_bLpfB_VS-W9z4MnuJqCPbdS7kUxDC0Q60ut54nZ5w,dalONatLtHHTWpj14xmo0wECqX_e8_LwVWCfho0wr7Q-1

I used to think that post-traumatic stress disorder was something only post war veterans, or people in the military experienced. That I was never worthy or capable of suffering from something so grandiose because I hadn’t gone through any sort of trauma, or major stress that was life altering. It wasn’t until I had seen my therapist a handful of times, that she was able to explain to me that the reoccurring flash backs of my past, nightmares that would keep me up at night, sense of loss, and overwhelming anxiety was attributed to a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had very vivid dreams, I’d wake up in the morning thinking for a split second that they had happened in real life, and still happens to this day. Some good, some bad, and some playing out details of my past that I wish I could forget, wished never happened, and  hope will one day disappear. When something so vivid and surreal happens in your subconscious you begin to question if you’re back in that place. A place of feeling distraught, out of control, hopeless, and as though you’re never actually moving forward.

When I would share these dreams, nightmares rather, with my therapist she would have me walk her through them. They typically would wake me up in the middle of the night, in a sweat, and looking around my room to see if I was in fact dreaming or if it was my reality. If I wasn’t able to fall back asleep within five minutes, I was supposed to get up, clear my mind, and attempt to fall back asleep. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. The times it didn’t would effect my entire day, leaving me in a piss poor mood, and feeling abandoned. Slowly we (my therapist and I) began to correlate my flashbacks to not only being cheated on but feeling and overwhelming sense of rejection and abandonment. When someone you once loved more than yourself betrays you, you begin to question what direction is the right one.

Those feelings were something we worked on for a good year. It’s not something that simply disappeared, but it’s something that no longer has as much power over me. As I began to talk about certain instances and situations, I began to hear myself on repeat. I had never verbalized all of my emotions to someone, to then have them connect the dots for me. They weren’t just dreams, they weren’t just flashbacks, I was suffering from something greater than me, something I couldn’t tackle alone. It was a cyclic cycle playing out in my head that if I would have just done X, Y,Z, things could have worked out differently. Every nightmare that I awoke from, I questioned how I could fix things, how I could make them right…

I couldn’t.

No matter what I did, or would have done, things would never be right because they were really, really wrong. 

I was so focused on moving forward that I forgot it was ok to take a step back in order to not repeat the same mistakes. Even though at times it feels like I’m taking two steps backwards I have to remind myself that really I’m taking a giant leap forward. In reality I’ve gained more than I’ve lost and there were, and sometimes still are times where I feel like I’ve lost a hell of a lot. A sense of missing out and never being able to regain what I once had, but the truth is, I never actually had what I thought I did, I just hoped and dreamed that things were as I wanted them to be. 

It was throughout those flashbacks when my true character began to evolve. When I had to solely focus on where I was headed, not where I had been. I had to get clear on my vision and implement the necessary steps to get there. Knowing where you’re headed doesn’t mean you’re there yet, it means you’re able to tune out the background noise and not allow your past to define you.

Jayel_Sig

The Final Chapter

Dear Universe,

 

Thank you!

It’s funny the way the world works. The way that time plays such a pivotal role in certain outcomes.

This time last year, I was anxious at the thought of my 28th birthday approaching, my first birthday without my husband being a part of it. My birthday was also the first time he said I love you, years later it became the day we got engaged…last year he called to say he was thinking of me and wanted to wish me a happy birthday. I then asked him to not call me anymore.

Just shy of a week before my 29th birthday I received the news that my divorce decree had arrived. When my mom called to tell me, it was as if time stopped for a brief moment.

I’ve been awaiting this day for over a year now. Filled with a plethora of emotions, not expecting what I would actually feel the day it happened.

Having five minutes before my next client was scheduled to arrive. I left the room and allowed myself to cry, to feel whatever emotion I was feeling at that particular moment.

photo 1

In that moment, a new moment in time, I realized I had two options; The first being to cancel clients, open a bottle of wine and share my feelings of uncertainty with Ben & Jerry…but what would that do for me? Not having a response to that question I decided on the latter; to go home, cry it out, call the people closest to me, and head back to work.

Being around my clients had gotten me through the beginning chapters of this story. They’re what saved me, what motivated me, and allowed me to see that there are far worse things in life than moving on.

I had to take a step back and really think things through. Although I had an overwhelming sense of feeling sorry for myself I realized I was exactly where I needed to be.

I haven’t seen Michael in over a year, and haven’t heard his voice in at least six months, and I’m so much better off. It’s difficult but I’m choosing to reflect back to a time in my past where I was so unhappy, so emotionally unstable worrying about his every move, and fighting for a marriage that would never work. It’s that memory that I’m thankful for.

Appreciative that in a year I’ve rebuilt myself, planted roots that no one can take from me, and will only become a stronger individual because of it.

photo copy

A somber moment, yet excited to be free from negativity, unleash my inner being and true self without someone’s actions effecting my mood or hold me back from becoming who I was meant to be. I was in the wrong place for a large portion of our relationship and I firmly believe that it’s time, time to let go of what could have been, and embrace what is. The here, the now, and focus on continuing to build my future.

At times I thought I would break, instead I’ve learned to bend.

 

So, this part of my story has come to an end. No fairy tale ending, but rather a tale of how to turn your tests into a testimony.

The end.

Jayel_Sig

Freedom Isn’t Free…

photo 4
In Pennsylvania there are two 20-day waiting periods in order to proceed with the divorce process. July 11th was the end of the second 20-day waiting period. I conveniently planned a girl’s getaway right around that time.

Often when I’m troubled or feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety I go away. Now I realize some of you may be thinking that that’s actually me running away from my troubles and never really addressing them- well, you’re partially correct.

Traveling has always been a form of therapy for me. Although much more expensive than my weekly psychologist visits it is worth every penny. Traveling allows me the opportunity to re-connect with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, to reflect on what has led me to this point, and what I plan on doing to make my next move a better move.

photo 2 photo

Although the divorce isn’t finalized (but should be in the next few weeks) the saying most commonly associated with the armed forces; “Freedom isn’t free” has constantly been ringing in my head. Being a future ex-military wife I understand and fully appreciate that freedom isn’t free. That military personnel risk their lives for us on a daily basis without much thanks or praise, and for that I am thankful.

The phrase has had a different meaning for me. In a few short weeks I will be “free.” Still being legally attached to someone bears a lot of weight. Despite not having seen my husband in over a year now he still has the ability to control some of my emotions, cause me pain, and ruin a perfectly good day. I’ve fought a long and difficult road to get to where I am. It’s not to say that the thoughts will instantly stop as soon as I have the papers in hand, but it gives me the opportunity to close one chapter in my life, all while healing and beginning to successfully move onto the next.

photo 2

Traveling opens up my heart to new possibilities, the chance to catch up with friends I haven’t kept in touch with as much as I should, and allows me to see that although our lives have taken different paths we share more similar stories than not.

My girlfriend that I met in Germany who was there for me when things went south met me for a week in the British West Indies/Cayman Islands. Unbeknownst to us we stayed on the “worlds best beach” which we took full advantage of. Our seven days of sun, (really, really, hot Caribbean sun), were filled with conversations over wine, salsa dancing until the wee hours in the morning, swimming with dolphins, holding sting rays, and discussing how we planned to make our lives fuller, richer and more rewarding; exactly what I needed.

For me it’s not about running from my problems but rather taking time away to address them and reconnect with myself. In the week I was away I disconnected from the social media world and recharged my own. I’ve learned that when I give everything I’ve got to others, I have nothing left to give to myself. Ladies, if you don’t already know the importance of giving back to yourself I encourage you to practice it on a regular basis; each and every day! It can be five minutes or 50 minutes.

As we wear so many different hats in a day don’t forget to take them off, and let your hair down.

photo 5 photo 3
Jayel_Sig