But I'm also writing this because I want to be honest. I want you, reader, to know who I am. There's nothing better than a brand new friend who knows nothing about you, except an old friend who knows everything about you.
It's spring. All around me, I see photos of people graduating. I think of everything they're about to go through. I think of dogwood days and sunshine and my own graduation. I think of where I was at this point a year ago.
But to think of that, we need to go back a little farther.
During my senior year of college, I was in a super serious relationship. We fell in love. We made choices, sacrifices. Or more, I made sacrifices. But they were willing sacrifices because I had so much faith and trust in us. We put his job first. I decided not to take the GRE, not to apply to graduate schools and not to apply to any other jobs or programs until we figured out where his job would be first. If the point was to be together, it didn't make sense for me to apply to anywhere until we knew where his job would be. So I put everything on hold. We had a plan, we had a date, we had everything. Until we didn't. Or more realistically, until I didn't have it all anymore. I started getting really weird texts from him at all hours of the night talking about dark holes and dark places and not dragging me down with him. Most of our calls ended with both of us in tears, him from depression and me from trying desperately to help him through something I couldn't. And then three months later, three months of dealing with his depression and my sudden lack of concrete anything, I learned it was all a lie. There wasn't any depression. But there was another girl, that he couldn't fess up to. Thanks, Facebook. Those months were rough. Suffice to say, when I walked across that graduation stage I felt emotionally and physically drained. I didn't have a plan like most of my friends. Any plan I would've pursued, I'd missed the boat on. It was too late for grad school apps or most of the other programs I wanted. Worse than not having a plan was feeling like someone else had put me in that position of having nothing. I felt lost. Insanely, insanely lost. I hadn't just lost my boyfriend, I had lost my best friend. The person I would normally go to with these feelings of uncertainty was no longer on the other end of the phone.
And it kept going. A lot of people don't understand why it took me so long to "get over it." Because it never ended, that's why. Just when I would get going again, he'd pop up. I finally accepted a job offer halfway across the country from him, in Missouri, when he popped up again. Suddenly it was more phone calls and 3 am voicemails with hopeless declarations of love and apologies. Suddenly it was "well what if I moved there too?" I didn't want to say no. We were planning on getting married, you don't just flip a switch and suddenly not want that again. But like the first time, it ended again. It was a midnight phone call talking about how much he missed me, and then an 8 am Facebook post about his engagement to "the other woman." I realized her and I had switched roles. Suddenly I had become 'the other woman.' And that's when it ended.
Here's my point. I've been R****-sober for three months now and it feels GOOD. It feels AMAZING. I finally feel like me again. I'm finally HAPPY. I look in the mirror and I don't see a girl recovering from a plan gone completely awreck. I see a girl with OPTIONS and a FUTURE and genuine HAPPINESS. And this is a big deal to me. And yes, I knew these things before. Yes I knew my self-worth wasn't rooted in that relationship. Blah blah blah. But life happens and love happens and I think anyone who has been in that type of deep love understands what I mean.
Some of you may roll your eyes. Some of you may think I'm exaggerating Some of you may think that I shouldn't give a fuck anymore. Well, whatever. This one's for me. And for me, today, I'm EXCITED. I came out the other side of a situation that was pure insanity--fake depression, hidden girlfriends, failed futures, lost loves--and I came out laughing and healthy and happy. I gave myself a pat on the back once just for surviving it. But I'm past that. I'm better than that. I'm happy and ready and excited. Today, I'm grateful that I get to stand in the sun and make any damn choice I please. I'm happy that the thought of him no longer makes me cringe.
I feel like this is my second graduation. Now, when I stand out in the bright rays of the sunshine and look towards my future I feel uncertainty and butterflies and misgivings and excitement and joy all at once. I may be scared, but I am filled with such, such joy at the certainty that any choice I make is mine and mine alone. No one is in control of my future except me. I get to choose. Nobody's writing this story except for me. And that my friends, is a most wonderful, wonderful feeling.
Happy graduation, Autumn.
Thank you to all of you who read through that whole thing. I hope you'll stay along for the ride--good things are to come! And a huge, huge thank you to all the women who made me feel so comfortable at the beginning of the week when I posted Dogwood Days--I couldn't have pushed publish without you.