Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a gentleman. He was discussing his upcoming anniversary (24 years!) and telling me about the adventures he had at his wedding.
Apparently, it was quite the event.
It had already been a fairly long day, so I didn’t stop to do the math to find out the year of his wedding. It wasn’t until he mentioned he was married in 1993 that I paused.
I was married in 1993.
It turns out, he wed about a month after I did. Small world isn’t it?
I congratulated him on his upcoming anniversary and wished him and his family well. I truly hope that he and his wife have many, many more wonderful years together.
And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking of my past. Not of my wedding but of my divorce and the time leading up to that point. It’s been five years since my ex and I separated. Five years since my life began again.
Life can be very tumultuous at times. That was certainly a roller coaster episode for me and one that I’m in no hurry to repeat. But the thing that truly struck me was how bleak things were leading up to the final separation. I can remember wondering if I’d ever make it through that period of time. Was my life over? Would I ever be able to move on? Would I ever come out the other side of that nightmare?
Now, it’s five years later.
While I was busy trying to be a single mom with all the responsibilities that entails and start a writing career, while I was busy living life, time moved on, almost without me noticing.
Sure, my kids grew taller, my daughter graduated high school and joined the Marines, and my son is now a freshman in high school. Those milestones are how I normally measure the passage of time. I don’t normally think about my anniversaries.
Looking back, a lot has happened that I would have never dreamed about. I’ve published two novels and a collection of short stories. That’s a dream fulfilled which never would have happened if I’d stayed married. If I hadn’t begun again.
I’m also happy, truly happy with myself.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of things I want to accomplish. There are goals that I’ve set and want to see to fruition. I have many more milestones to meet.
But when I look in the mirror, I like the person I am. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m at peace with my past and I’m looking forward to my future.
That’s no easy feat to accomplish.
Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with age. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m no longer in a relationship that tended to bring out the worst possible qualities in both of us. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve lived through hardships and understand my own ability to survive.
Maybe it’s a culmination of all of these things.
For many people, they’d like to turn back the clock to an earlier age. They’d like to erase the mistakes of the past and avoid a mountain of regrets.
I’m not one of those people. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than waking up as a teenager and having to go through all that again. Even with what I know now, I’d hate for something like that to happen.
Erasing certain decisions of my past would greatly alter where I currently am on my journey. It would change everything about who I met along the way and which relationships I fostered. Would my kids be the same people they are now? Probably not. And they’re pretty awesome people. I wouldn’t want to change them in the slightest bit.
And I wouldn’t want to change the person that I am now.
I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to begin again, despite all the pain and suffering that I went through to get there. Those battle scars were hard fought and won at great expense. They are worth more to me than gold because they created a foundation from which I’m building the rest of my life. A life that I cherish.
I can’t say what the future will hold. I have no idea of the challenges I’ll face along the way or the pains that may greet me in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. But I know that I can survive because I’ve already survived. I know that whatever curve ball I’m thrown, I can adjust and create something positive.
Starting over again is scary. It’s fraught with uncertainty. But when we embrace the change, we open ourselves up to experience new joys that we never imagined.
And I truly hope that whatever challenges you’re facing, whatever new beginnings are on your horizon, I pray they bring with them a mountain of happiness and self-fulfillment. I hope you create the life you’ve always wanted, the one you’ve always dreamed about.
All the best!
(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)