The Difference a Year Makes

Our blog has been around for a year. Vanessa and I started this when we were both let go from our jobs and had nothing else to do. We’re meeting this weekend, in a small town that’s half-way between where we live, to talk about where we’ve been and where we want to go.

In January 2021, I was still living at the house. My husband and I had separated, but still living together. I knew, by this time, he was gay. After we’d opened our marriage the year before, and I met someone, he invited my partner to stay with us on his days off. So, I was living with my husband, my boyfriend, my son, and my dad. How many people can say that?

I’d started a new job last January. I was happy, and ready, to be working again after three months of unemployment.

Little did I know what was about to come.

By March, my dad had lost enough sight that he asked to live in assisted living. Once we got him into a home, I was realized I was free. After yet another argument, I looked at my husband and said, “Give me <this amount of dollars> and I’m out of here.” I didn’t want the house; I only wanted my share of it.

He couldn’t buy me out, but his parents could. Once the wheels were set in motion, I started to look for my own place. When I found it, I was gone. The stars aligned and I think it was 3 weeks from start to finish. My banker and lawyers didn’t believe a transaction could happen so quickly!

It was the first time in my (nearly) 55 years that I’d bought property by myself. My son elected to stay at the house where he’d spent the last 10 years of his life. I was truly on my own. I had my dog, and I had my boyfriend, but he was (and still is) away at work more than he’s home so it was – for the most part – just me.

By the end of the summer, I knew I couldn’t keep my dog. He was not adapting to condo life. He is a very smart dog and he knew I wasn’t the leader he needed. I hired trainers to give us 1:1 instruction, and nothing improved. In the end, I had to rehome him. For the first time in 30+ years, I was living without a dog. I thought it would be harder, but it wasn’t. There was a weight lifted not having to revolve my life around the needs of a dog. It gave me even more time and space to work through my own issues.

I had a great vacation with my boyfriend at the end of the year. It felt like things were starting to settle. I knew I’d be starting a new job, again, in January and was very much looking forward to it.

My son stayed at my place while we were gone. Without the stress of everything going on at the house, he realized his stress and anxiety were gone. He didn’t want to go back.

So, he and his 12 year old dog have moved in with me. I’m now undertaking my first home renovation to give him a bedroom/bathroom of his own on the first floor of the condo.

There is no way I could have predicted so much change. When you look at the major stressors in a person’s life, I had quite a few – marriage breakdown, new home, new job, (sort of) empty nest.

A year later – here I am. My own home, my dream job, my son is living with me, I have a dog in the house again, and a caring, supportive boyfriend.

The difference a year makes.

Looking in the Review Mirror…Part 1

I’ve been following quite a few therapist-type people on Instagram this past year. One of the people I follow is Nadra Tawwab (@nedratawwab). Last week, she posted “10 Questions to Process Before You Wrap Up 2021”. I thought I’d consider her questions in our blog.

“What did 2021 teach me about myself?”

It taught me:

  • I am incredibly resilient. Life handed me quite a few lemons, and I continuously made lemonade.
  • Related to above, I can handle a great deal of change.
  • I am able to take care of myself – emotionally, spiritually, financially
  • I’m not afraid to ask for help. Sometimes it was answered, other times it wasn’t. Either way, I didn’t try to do everything myself.
  • I value alone time. I love to socialize, but I need to recharge on my own. It was wonderful to have a place of my own where I could have quiet.
  • I don’t really know who I am. For so long, I was a wife, mother, and caregiver. With those roles no longer my focus, I was at a loss. Who am I if I don’t apply a label? What makes my heart sing? These questions no longer unsettle me. I see answering them as a journey that will extend into 2022.
  • I have a tremendous network of support. I knew this, but it was a good reminder. I have friends who love me.

“Who showed up for me, and how can I nurture those relationships?”

I promise, I didn’t think of this question with the last bullet point above!

Many friends showed up for me – some in person, some via video messaging, some via text. In no particular order:

  • Vanessa and Selena – my co-blogger and co-podcasters. These women keep things real for me. They celebrate with me, support me, and call my out on my bullshit when needed.
  • Lana and Derek – my former neighbours and very good friends. I used to live across the street from them and our boys grew up together. They have always gone above and beyond. It was harder to move away from them than from my ex-husband!
  • Martin – boyfriend extraordinaire. His belief in my ability to become my best self is unwavering.
  • Nathan – my son – a self-proclaimed “momma’s boy”. 🙂 He’s been busy starting to live his own life, but still finds time to talk to his mom.
  • My dad – he’s always believed in me. All he’s ever wanted is for me to be happy and he supports whatever makes that happen.

There are so many more; too many to list.

How can I nurture these relationships?

Keep being me. All the people in my life are here for a reason. Just as I see something that draws me to them, they see something in me. The best thing I can do is continue to be my honest, authentic, caring self who makes time for the people important to me.

There are 8 more questions. I’ll get to them all eventually. 🙂

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