What happens when the rose-colored glasses break

Peace & Power

Over the last week I’ve felt a noticeable shift, emotionally. The bad days are still there, but they’re getting less intense. The good days are blanketed in an overwhelming feeling of peace and calm. I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors. The weather is absolutely gorgeous. The cold, dark winter feels like a bad but vivid memory. The air is calm and mild. The days are long again. The chorus of the birds around me lifts my spirits. The sunsets warm my soul – you know I love a good sunset. Even the sound of the train in the not-so-distance is welcomed.

The logical part of me wants to credit the change of seasons for this refreshing feeling of … Alive! But I know it’s far more than that. I missed all of this, entirely, last year. It’s the absence of that constant heaviness in my chest. The sheer exhaustion. The irritability. The deep, burning sadness. It’s like those things have dissipated into the atmosphere.

The only time I feel any of them returning is when I’m somewhere I might bump into Garrett. Even then it’s not so heavy. I recite all the things I might say – or not say – to him in that moment. But I also remind myself that he’s a coward and likely wouldn’t approach me in public or anywhere with potential witnesses. I think he’s stopped stalking me, but I don’t know – I haven’t been looking for him and I haven’t asked if there’s been any sightings. I don’t care. I would much rather enjoy my peace than give him any more space in my mind.

This last weekend was Memorial Day Weekend. In the days leading up to it, I felt a bit panicked. What would I do? Normally we would put the boat in the water, go fishing, swim, grill steaks or tacos. I had no one to fill that time with me – all of my friends are traveling or had plans with family. Before Garrett I would spend the weekend with my own family, at the beach, having bonfires and backyard barbecues. But here, that isn’t an option. I seriously started to panic. So I decided to take a little staycation. Get an AirBnb in a nearby city I’ve been meaning to explore. Problem is, the place I fell in love with got booked as I was looking at it and all the others were just too large for a single person. Then came the sense of dread that I would end up spending the weekend working, just to start the work week already burned out – UGH!

I ended up having an incredible weekend. When Saturday came I gave myself permission to stay in bed for no reason other than to exercise my freedom to do whatever I wanted. Then I started on some projects I’d been meaning to get done. I made a list of things I wanted to do – both chores and pleasure – and I checked them off one by one. I stocked up on healthy foods, I fixed/replaced things that he broke, I purged, I did some clothes shopping.

Monday, Memorial Day, was the best day by far. I went on that long bike ride I’ve been wanting to do. Just shy of 22 invigorating miles in the most perfect weather. A friend recently encouraged me to start venturing out on my own, so Monday afternoon I decided to go watch a water ski show. Alone. I had an absolute blast! As I was sitting there in a crowd of people I realized how much more enjoyable this was without feeling obligated to converse with someone – while at the same time having the freedom to interact with anyone around me if I chose. After the show I took a walk on the beach, watched the sunset from the pier, and then treated myself to a nice meal at a restaurant with an outdoor patio in earshot of live music from down the road. I even made friends with the dog and her humans at the table next to me.

That evening, as I was reflecting on my weekend activities, I wondered why the challenge of enjoying activities alone seemed so daunting. It honestly didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Then I realized I used to do this sort of thing all the time. From stargazing in the middle of the night to trips to the beach, to runs in the park or hikes wherever, to exploring a random farmer’s market. You name it, I did it. If someone wanted to join, great – I always enjoy good company – but if no one was interested, no big deal. That’s when I realized for three and a half years I was groomed – trained like a dog – to not go anywhere or do anything without Garrett. Attempting to do so would be met with passive-aggressive comments or outright complaints later. Turns out, it was never me who couldn’t stand to do things alone. It was Garrett. That man wouldn’t even go to the grocery store by himself! If he couldn’t have them delivered he would send his son. Worst case scenario, if he had to step foot in the grocery store I absolutely HAD to go with him. Even a quick gas station beer run required my company (Zach isn’t yet old enough to do beer runs).

So now I know. This wasn’t even my insecurity – it was imposed on me. All I needed was a push from a friend to remind me of just how much I enjoy my own company – and how capable I am of connecting with positive people when I’m in my authentic version of myself.

This weekend left me with the incredible sense of taking my power back.

I am going to have the best summer ever.