We likely all have it – that season of our life that we’d love to forget ever happened.
Be it post-divorce, death, or other life-altering scenario, it’s the season that brought us to our knees, that made us question our purpose, our God, and ourselves, all in the same breath.
Imagine my surprise when, as of late, I’ve actually been missing that season of life. Each of our seasons are unique, but for me, I had moved across state lines to be with ultimately the absolute wrong man for me, leaving behind my family, my friends, a job I loved, a city I loved. It was replaced with about six weeks of the wrong man and me finding that, while maybe we worked on weekends and vacations, we most certainly did not work together day-to-day, and culminating with him handing me my house key and breaking up with me, coldly and “out of nowhere,” though, really, we both know – including me – that the writing was on the wall.
(Funny story that I might never get the chance to tell again that summed up the level of ridiculousness this entire season of my life was: When said ex came by to drop off my house key and what, at the time, I thought was my entire future along with him, I thought the knock at the door was the pizza I ordered. Instead, it was him, a sight I was happy to see – until I wasn’t. Right in the middle of our very quick, very tear-filled – on my end, anyway – breakup, the pizza lady actually did show up. “He’s breaking up with me right now!” I yelled as the ex slunk out the door I opened to pay for the pizza, never to be seen face-to-face by me again. “Okay,” she said, after a pregnant pause. “That’ll be $11, and I included your dipping sauce in the box like you requested.”)
As opposed to the love and abundance I had left behind in my prior life pre-move, I was in a city that wasn’t mine, a job that wasn’t a good fit, and now, my one reason for being there had left in a cloud of cheap pizza dust. Having only moved there six weeks prior, the majority of my friends were his friends; the unfortunate timing of this happening four days before my 31st birthday didn’t help. From the day of our breakup until the day I moved back home was almost exactly three months, but it felt like an eternity filled with Keeping Up with the Kardashians reruns, takeout from Sonic and Dairy Queen and Chili’s, sometimes twice-a-day therapy sessions, Marc Jacobs’ Daisy perfume (it was the scent I wore during this season, which I’ll never be able to wear again), and more tears in those three months than I’d probably cried in my entire life. I wasn’t crying for my ex as much as I was crying for the end of my dream of finally checking off the box of getting married, eventually having kids, and, you know, starting my life.
Except, here’s the thing: My life had already begun. A long time ago, in fact – 31 years ago.
And little did I know it, but the best part of it was just beginning.
That was (thankfully) the only season, up to present day, that I’ve suffered from depression, from the feeling of being chained to my bed, unable to even stand up from it. Eventually, when I began making attempts at extricating myself from my bed (this took a long time), I started cajoling myself to get out of bed by telling myself “Just make it to the shower. That’s all you have to do today. Just shower.” From there I’d convince myself to put makeup on and attempt to look human. When I locked the door of my apartment, I’d run (not a habit I normally partake in) to my car, otherwise I’d turn back around, go back inside, and fall back into bed. This was my life for three months, every single day.
So why on earth, you may ask, do I catch myself, on occasion, missing this?
Because from rock bottom, there’s only one way to go – up. From rock bottom, every day that’s not the day prior is a day closer to being normal again, whatever that even means. There’s something almost beautiful about your life imploding before your eyes. There is a chance to build beauty from the ashes, from the rubble, from the devastation. To start over – and do it better this time.
I was closer to God than I’d ever been up to that point. If I’m honest, most of our very long, very tepid conversations were me gargling “Why? Why? Why?” through raucous sobs or angrily and very vocally doubting His plan for me in very unkind language. But we talked – a lot. And I look back at this season as the launchpad of the rest of my life – spiritually, professionally, emotionally, everything. Everything good I have now, all of these years later, is blooming now because it was planted during these days, prostrate and dumbfounded and enraged and lost in my one-bedroom apartment.
It’s very, very common to want to quickly bypass this season and move on to a bit more normalcy, a bit more happiness, a bit more joy. Especially if this season is happening to you during the holiday season – where everyone is happy, right? – the temptation escalates even more to want to swiftly move through this moment and pretend it never happened. But let me encourage you to walk a little slower through your grief. You can’t change what happened; what you can control is what you take from it. What you learn from it. How you can feel this sorrow, this heartache, this anguish totally – and grow. Emerge. Beautifully emerge.
Yes, we all have the season that we wish to forget ever happened. But don’t waste this season trying to outrun it into the next. If you’re like me and think, erroneously, that life only begins when a certain life mile marker is reached – graduating college, marriage, kids, retirement, what have you – life began a long time ago, and it’s best to start living it immediately, even the ugliest parts. How do we truly know beauty if we don’t know this, whatever this ugly is?
Though I don’t have any grandiose plans of returning to this season, I also have no hopes of returning to the woman I was before this season, either. This season was difficult, terrible, and hard, but it taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten: I’m strong. I’m tough. I’m resilient. I’m capable. And I took that rock bottom and used it as a springboard, a launchpad, a catalyst to my becoming.
Eventually, my life worked out. It will for you, too. And, when I think of this season, I don’t miss the tears. I don’t miss the physical feeling of grief, where your heart feels as though it’s being ripped out of your body. But I do miss the way I felt when I was alone with myself and my thoughts and my God every night, and even though some nights I didn’t want to, I kept on breathing. I miss being down to nothing, and God being especially up to something.
Yes, it’s better on the other side, but don’t leave this moment too soon. Sit a spell. For if you don’t, you just might miss the lessons that need to be taught – and, far beyond whatever caused your heartache and your pain, that would be the true tragedy.