A couple of Sundays ago, I woke to a chorus of frogs. The lake I live on has been especially alive this spring, whether from the unseasonably warm winter, or the multiple days in a row of rain we've been getting, I'm not sure. Regardless of the reason, the frogs are loving it, and I am loving them.
I stayed in bed for a good twenty minutes, feeling the mellow breeze wafting through the window caress my face, smiling at the scritchy sounds of a squirrel scurrying across the roof over my head. Sometimes my apartment is so peaceful I can hardly stand it. It's like being at the cabin every day. I don't know how I ever settled for anything less.
I was recently in a relationship that was a special kind of hell. I knowingly, selfishly got myself into a situation that was, for lack of a better word, bad (just kidding, there are so many other words I could use). Bad for me, bad for other people, and bad for my quest to exist in the world in a loving, do-no-harm, authentic way. Instead, I went in exactly the opposite direction, and quickly found myself mired neck-deep in something that felt inescapable. I was in love, alone, and miserable, and as the misery normalized, I forgot it was possible to feel any other way, act any other way, be any other way. Slowly and without fully noticing, I lost myself.
When I ended that relationship, the first thing I did was crumble into a million pieces. Then came numbness and self-imposed hermit-hood. Then came a turning point.
And then came something I wasn't expecting: freedom.
Freedom. How do I even begin to describe it? Right now, I am inexplicably, undeservedly, experiencing life in a way I never have before - in a way I didn't know was possible. Of my own doing, reality as I knew it crashed down around me, and out of the rubble, my world has expanded. I left behind behind a small chasm of rigid options, a black hole, a closing in, a tunnel, a tiny bubble, and entered a universe of endless possibilities, with nothing and no one to hold me back.
I am my own in a way I have never been before.
When I talked with a friend about the current events of my fiasco life, he said, "I'm just confused about how this happened - you're such a strong and independent woman". Besides being incredibly moved that even one person views me that way, that comment also stopped me in my tracks and made me take a hard look at my relationships up to this point. Do I have an independent streak? Yes. But despite my best efforts to avoid being a cliché, the reality is that since adolescence I have been continuously dependent on a person of the male persuasion to remind me of my worth. Be it boyfriend, fling, love affair, or casual flirty acquaintance, I have always had a dude around to catch me if I fall, to hand me my own self-worth on a silver platter.
I do not have that right now. Not even a teeny, tiny little bit. Any of the aforementioned male persuasion that was in my life quickly exited stage left in a very short period of time, including past opportunities that I thought could have future potential, and more recent possibilities that fizzled and disappeared. It's like the universe sent out a reverse Bat Signal to the male population; "I think that maybe you just need to spend some time alone," an adorable boy who I was falling for so hard it hurt said to me a few months ago. So now, for the first time ever, I am forced to reckon with fending for myself in the world. I wake up and fall asleep to myself and only myself. I am in charge of my worth. Scratch that - I have always been in charge of my worth. But now I'm owning it. This is not to say that I do not have a beautiful, loving community around me to lift me up, because I do. What I am talking about is something entirely different: I am my own companion.
The value of this experience does not escape me. I was dangerously close to missing out on it. Many people do. I have these moments driving home after a long day when gratitude wells up in my chest and radiates throughout my entire body until I want to explode with happiness. Gratitude for the chance to have the freedom to struggle on my own. The freedom to tussle with my demons. The freedom to own my shit and own UP to my shit - to find my own sense of self-worth after making questionable decisions, and to work toward feeling that I am good, and worthy of good, regardless of and without disowning my role in the circumstances, whatever they may be. Gratitude for the freedom to take responsibility for myself, to carry heavy things up the stairs by myself, to fix broken cupboard doors by myself, to solve my own problems. The freedom to fully feel the discomfort of my aloneness, and the occasional loneliness that accompanies it. The freedom of this:
The relief I feel to finally be facing forward and striking out on my own is immense. I am free to do what I want, go where I want, and be what I want. I have been reunited with my old heart, and am setting it free. My intuition is coming back in droves, where once it was silenced. My days aren't perfect - they never can be - but I am learning to revel in the darkness that allows the light to shine through. I am growing, and strengthening, and trusting in myself in a way I never have before. It is raw and difficult, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
In my relationship with myself, my heart is beating. In my relationship with myself, my breath is happy. In my relationship with myself, I feel free. And that is everything.