Thursday, June 23, 2016
Life. Is. Good.
But if you know me, really know me, you know that it hasn't always been this way. I did not arrive at this point by accident, nor luck. I arrived here through trials and tears...through the traumas of war and the trauma of a marriage no longer salvageable...through blood and sweat...hard work and dedication...faith, hope, and a whole lot of grace.
I've been meaning to write this for a while...to put into writing the evolution of my life over these past few years...to remind myself someday that life can change unexpectedly and one must always be thankful for what they have...cherish it, hold it tight, and work like hell to keep it.
Two years ago I was still in Afghan land...in that place that I still haven't really put into words...that place that changed me at my core...made me more grateful, made me not take anything for granted, slowed me down and woke me up. Even though I was surrounded by trauma and sadness...I found my tribe, my people, my Afghan family. The people who saved me everyday, gave me sunshine in the rain, and held me when I fell...out there and back at home.
Two years ago I was out there...but my life at home was falling apart. Had been for years, but now it was in a full on collision course with the end. That train never stopped and the day after I came home from nearly a year away we began the official process to end our nearly 11 years of marriage. Although it was what I wanted, divorce is NEVER easy. It's a process that strips you to your core and examines parts of your soul you've never seen. It takes two people who were once a team and puts them into the arena for a Hunger Games type battle. It drags family and friends into the muck to choose sides, hold up alliances, and make the waters even murkier. It's ugly...even when it's mutual.
As I laid in bed next to my mom one night before we moved (since I was no longer sharing a room with my ex), I cried. I cried because I didn't know where we were going to end up...I didn't know how custody was going to play out and if my ex would truly fight me for our kids...I didn't know anything. I just didn't know.
We sold our home and I moved with my mom and kids to a rental nearby. In the course of all this I had surgery to repair my knee that had been injured in combat training...I was reduced to crutches and was no longer the strong, solid chick who could outlift some of the dudes...but rather a former shadow of myself. Sleep deprived from stress, unsure of my future, limited by my new disability...
It's in these moments when your life has shattered to pieces that you have a choice...you can choose to sit among the wreckage...or you can choose to take the pieces and rebuild them into something stronger and more beautiful. You can choose to see the light that is always at the end of the tunnel...even if it's so far off in the distance that you have to use binoculars to see it...and move steadily towards it. I assure you that in this process of rebuilding that you will make mistakes. Pieces you thought fit, won't. You'll possibly have to begin again and start from scratch. But the light will never move...and if you keep your eyes fixed upon it you'll reach a point where you are blinded by it's brightness.
I finally got to a point, on my own, where I was making it happen. Custody had been worked out, the kids had started at a new school and were happy, I'd started a new endeavor as a health and fitness coach, I was slowly regaining my strength and with it my confidence. Things were looking up...and then they took a drastic turn.
A long time friend was returning from his own tour of Afghan land and wanted to meet up for coffee to discuss life-post-Afghan and catch up as we hadn't spoken in almost a year. I agreed...but as the day grew closer some strange part of my personality took over my better judgement and asked him why he wasn't just making this coffee meet up into a date...like a real date. He took some time to answer (as I now know he always thinks carefully about what he says before he utters it) and told me simply that he never thought I'd be interested in going on a date with him...I told him he should ask. And he did.
With that one small turn of fate my life changed course entirely. I firmly believe that once your feet are on the path they are meant to be on, doors open and opportunities arise around every corner. God, the Universe, whatever you believe in (personally I choose Him) rewards you for moving in the right direction by consistently giving you more chances to keep going forward. But this is not a passive process. You have to try. You have to work. You have to be willing to struggle a bit. It's not easy, but at least you finally are moving towards that light with a vengeance and a purpose.
He moved in, we got engaged, the kids loved him...my ex and him even got along really well...we got pregnant (wayyyyyy earlier than we planned, but again, you take the chances and keep moving forward)...we found our dream home and bought it, we moved, and we had the wedding of our dreams. Life is far from perfect now, but I wake up every morning, look over at my sleeping husband, and say a prayer of thanks for this man and this beautiful life we are creating.
Sometimes the road seems long...but look hard for the light and never, ever stop moving towards it, because standing in the light is the most beautiful experience you could ever imagine.