Yesterday was my 37th birthday. If you didn’t know, my birthday is my favourite day of the year. The day is all about me. It’s a celebration of me. My chance to connect back with me and what I want – what lights me up, what brings me joy. It really is the beginning of my year. And it was a fabulous day.
I spent it by myself in Melbourne. The path that got me here was not what I expected. By no means has it been h
Wow 37. Birthdays have a funny way of making us reflect on our lives. Well mine always does. In fact it is one of the things I most love about my birthday. The day is all about me. About celebrating all the wonderful things about me. We so often get caught in the lack, in the mundane day to day that we forget to see how amazing life is.
There may be a few that are thinking well what if my life isn’t wonderful. I want to challenge you if that is your thought. Absolutely it may not be all roses and rainbows. And do you know what, it actually shouldn’t. Life wasn’t here to give us a trouble, struggle free existence. That is not experiencing life. The reality of life is chaos.
My last 8 months have been rough. And this isn’t a cry for attention or a my life is worse than yours battle. What each of us experience is real for us. What I consider rough will be totally different to what you do – and that is the way it should be. I am sharing this with you in the hope that if you can see how I have ridden the roller coaster of the past 8 months than it is also possible for you too. Whatever life throws at you.
Let’s rewind the clock back to early 2019. I was standing at my local beach watching the waves roll in. We had taken my cousins down to see the beach one last time before they headed back to England. It was early evening and the sun was beginning to set. I cannot tell you how absolutely content I felt in that moment.
I was about to head back to Summer School, with the end of uni in site – I had just 6 months to go. I had a man who loved me, who I loved more than anything. At the same time last year I was single and wondering if I was ever going to feel this way, feel this kind of love. I was 7 weeks pregnant. We’d fallen first try. This still makes my heart sing. After a long battle with my hormones, to the point that just 12 months before I fell pregnant I was told I was possibly going into early menopause, this felt truly heart-swelling amazing. Life wasn’t perfect but I just felt such peace and contentment as I stood there and watched the waves lapping the shore. My life truly felt full of possibility. I felt fulled with abundance.
Three weeks after that I lost our baby. I always knew I wanted a baby but it’s not until you loose something that you realise how much it meant to you. Sadly this wasn’t the only time I was going to learn this lesson. It rocked me. I would cry unexpectedly over the loss. For the first time I didn’t try and fight it. I just let myself feel. It was the first time I had experienced real grief in my life. Again this wasn’t going to be the only time I felt loss in the coming year.
I never blamed myself or my body. I sought comfort in those around me. As I began to share my story, it was amazing how much support I had and how many others had experienced the same loss.
The aftermath #1
It was the following months that saw this really affect me. Not so much the loss of our baby but my ability to fall again. I fell so easy the first time, why wasn’t it happening again. As each month came, I had convinced myself this was our month. Then my period would come and I was thrown into the depths of grief yet again.
When you are in the depths of your ‘shit’ you can’t always see your reactions. We don’t allow ourselves the space to see and feel. Our brains default to what we know, what keeps us safe. For me this is control. When I don’t feel safe I control. It has only been in the past 3 months that I have really acknowledged I do this. When I look back over my life it is very clear now. I can also see how damaging it is. When I do this not only does it affect my relationships with those around me, it also affects my most important relationship, my relationship with me.
During this time I could feel myself becoming a person I did not like. And yet I couldn’t stop it… I begun to blame people (ironically, mainly the man I loved) and situations outside of me for the way I felt and for not making me ‘better’. Not only did I not have the brain space to rationalise all of this, I also didn’t have space in general. Between uni and work there were often weeks I would go without a day to myself. The self loathing, the unhappiness, the fear was on constant repeat in my head.
I continued to show up in my life with the happy, carefree zest I had for life. Or so I thought. The cracks were definitely starting to show. People close to me were commenting that I was loosing my shininess. I was loosing the fun, carefree me that both I and those around me loved. To say my relationship was suffering was an understatement. As I felt my grip on my ‘perfect’ life slip away I grabbed tighter, pushing away the one I loved the most. I just wanted someone to fix me. To make me happy again. I couldn’t understand why this person I loved so much didn’t know how to help me. How was he meant to when I didn’t even know how to help myself? How could he love me if I didn’t love myself?
My second loss of the year came at the beginning of June. The man who had my whole heart, who I loved with every inch of my body, uttered these words to me…
“I can’t get it back. I’m not going to be here when you get home tonight.”
Those words are forever etched into my being.
Two weeks before he had said he wasn’t sure if I was what he wanted. He wasn’t happy. This rocked me. But also was the jolt I needed to get over myself.
It created the first bit of space I needed to begin to separate my reactions. Even after he uttered those words I never, never thought he would leave. He was my forever. We would work through this. During the past few months, knowing that he was always going to be there was my one life buoy.
I remember so vividly him sitting on our couch saying to me ‘Kirsty I am never going anywhere.’ Then standing up and hugging me. One of those hugs he gave where my troubles just melted away. But he did go…
The aftermath #2
I was plunged into a grief like I never thought possible.
The loss of him felt like I had lost my life, my existence. How could he just give up on us. He didn’t even try and fight for me, for us.
I have always battled with self worth. Never being good enough. Even as I write this I am seriously fighting back the tears. I can physically feel it in my body. My throat gets thick, my heart constricts, my tummy sinks. From a very early age I have felt rejection from males in my life. And here it was again. The person who I thought was going to be the end of those feeling rejecting me. Not fighting for me. Telling me I wasn’t what he wanted.
I think out of the past 3 months I have not cried maybe 5 days. The sadness gripped my body and it seems like it wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere.
On August the 19th our babies due date rolled around. This day was a very stark reminder of everything I felt I had lost. (You can read about that here.) It was not just the loss but the fear that I will never have it again. It is very hard to see and believe things will ever be as you hope when you are surrounded in darkness. When you don’t think you are worth any happiness.
The biggest blow was yet to come. Within days of leaving me he had hooked up with one of his work colleagues. Not something he was ever honest about. I had to find out by putting pieces together. Even then he couldn’t be honest. A casual affair I was told, yet a relationship was declared the very next day.
This was to be my lowest point. It was one thing for him to decide he didn’t want me, but to know that there was someone else… that despite his protesting that nothing ‘happened’ before we broke up, all signs pointed to me once again not being good enough.
The aftermath #3
This was just a couple of weeks ago. I sat on my couch. Numb. Sad. Hurt. Broken.
I have had times in the past when I have wanted to get away from life, to sit on a mountain top and just escape, to give myself some space. This was different. I wanted someone, something to take me away from my life. I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. It wasn’t that I wanted to hurt myself. I was already so broken I couldn’t hurt anymore than I already did. I just wanted to not have to be in my life. I didn’t want to experience all of these thoughts and feelings. In that moment I wished that something from above would just reach down and pull me up and away.
They say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can begin to climb up again. I’m hoping that was my rock bottom.
This person who I would have given the world to, who I would have fought for, who I never would have hurt, has managed to do more damage than all the males over the past 30 years combined.
Despite all this I cannot hold anger towards him. I cannot cause him pain – even when others around me tell me he most definitely deserves it. I still love him. I will always love him.
The silver linings
I have definitely begun to see the light in the past week. My heart has begun to feel hopeful again.
To say the past 3 months has been an emotional roller coaster is understatement.
Among all of this amazing things have also happened. I had the high of my last week of uni, mixed in with the first week of being single (yep he walked out the weekend before my last week).
I graduated! On his birthday.
I have come to Melbourne for my birthday, a trip we booked to take together. The hotel was booked at his insistence just 2 weeks before he walked out. One of the many things I have sought to understand in the past 3 months but have needed to remind myself that I will never fully understand.
Finding strength in surrendering.
There are times in the past 3 to 4 months that I have questioned my strength. In the moments when I felt so broken. When I was literally on the floor sobbing, whole body wrenching sobs. I have always been told I am strong. Yet I felt so broken. How is that strong?
Strength I have learnt is not about not feeling. In fact feeling is actually the hardest thing to do. Strength for me is the ability to withstand what is coming at me. And the best way I found to do that was surrender. During all of this I turned up when I needed to in life. I went to work. Hell I even did a final exam just 2 weeks after he walked out. I smiled when things made me happy. I cried when I was sad. I screamed when I was angry. Emotions need to move through us. The strength I have found was allowing myself to let them do that.
I spent a lot of the past 3-4 months scared. And quite honesty I’m still scared. The fear inside me brings me to tears each time I think of it (like now as I am writing this). There is so much that scares me. This may surprise those that know me, because I appear so confident and together…
I’m scared I will never find love again. For the longest time I have wanted to loved. To think that I thought he was my forever, that he was my great love, and that he just walked out, makes me scared that I will not find it. I was scared that continuing to always love him will stop me finding someone else. Then a voice of reason told me that the heart doesn’t have a limited capacity on love. When we have one child we love it with all of our hearts. It doesn’t then stop us loving another child. The love may be different but no less.
I am scared I will never have the family I want. I have so much love and nurturing to give. I am scared I will never truly love myself, to see what others see in me. I’m honestly just scared of what life will bring me. The dreams I had for my life crashed down when he walked out. I’m now at a loss of what I want my life to look like, to be. I always feel that I am searching for greatness and that it is always just out of reach. I want a great, amazing, wonderful, heart-filling, joyous life for myself but I can’t even see what that looks like. To say my life has been shaken up since he left in an understatement.
These struggles. The turmoil inside me. They have and continue to be my greatness learnings. We go through life striving for happiness. The learnings, the growth don’t come in times of happiness. Our struggles give us this. And they also allow us to flourish and experience the happiness when it comes.
My lessons (because there are always lessons).
I have learnt through this time that everything moves in cycles. Nature is the biggest teacher here. Everything in nature moves in cycles. Each day the sun rises and sets. Each month the moon moves through its cycle. Seasons cycle. In all of this there are periods of darkness, of hibernation, of shedding. In all of this there are periods of beaming light, of flourishing and of growth. Trying to resist any of these is not healthy. Learning to love the contrasts is beautiful. Two quotes really remind me of this.
“In the end everything is alright, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” I have actually had this quote sitting on my desk for the longest time.
“This too shall pass.” I love this one as it applies to the struggles and the happiness. We just need to experience each moment for what it is.
No one can fix you. In fact you should never think you are broken. I did this. I felt broken and I wanted him to fix me. I want him to support me emotionally. Why do we do this? For 1000’s of years the women in our ‘tribes’ provided the emotional support. Yet today we look to our partners to do this. What we really need to do is learn how to support ourselves. This includes knowing what we need to do this. If that includes getting support from outside ourselves (and it definitely should), we need to know we can call on the women in our circle. The support our man needs to give us is the space and time to be able to rally this support around us. I didn’t even know how to support myself. How was he ever going to do this? I resented him for that. Of course he then felt inadequate, unappreciated because of this. I now know how to support myself. And the women in my tribe have been nothing short of AMAZING! I have lent of them and they have carried me. They have helped me see through the fog. They haven’t tried to fix me, because I don’t need fixing. They have be guiding me back to me, as only our girlfriends can.
The clouds are parting.
I have forgiven him for the hurt he has caused. Carrying the hurt and anger around felt heavy. It didn’t feel comfortable. It certainly wasn’t going to help me. Like all the other emotions I have felt. I too made sure I felt these then allowed them to move through me. It took some time. Now I need to work on forgiving me.
My birthday though. It has given me sunshine. I did not cry yesterday. Days of not crying have been very few. It allowed me to reflect on the wonderful parts of myself. Parts that I have often been shamed for. I am embracing these now for the gifts that they are. I am gaining a deeper understanding of myself and I am learning to loving her.