Dear Catie, A Happy Self.

When I woke up this morning at 9:00am, I didn’t really have a ‘plan.’ I knew I was off, I knew I wouldn’t have Elijah until tomorrow, and that I had just me, myself, and I for the next 24 hours. It’s a Thursday, but it’s also New Years Day. Is anything open? I bet not, but I bet the movie theater is. For some reason, they’re always open and it kind of makes me feel bad for the workers, but not bad enough that I didn’t get my ass up for the matinee showing of Wild (Starring Reese Witherspoon) at 10:40am.

So in I walk to the theater, having no idea what this movie is about – not even a trailer of it. Someone I loosely know knew of my situation (‘divorced’) and thought to tell me to go see it, with urgency. They were not mistaken in this suggestion. This is my first text after seeing it, to my mother:

It’s about a woman who’s had it all and lost it all and made a lot of mistakes and so she goes on a journey for herself to find the woman her mother always wanted for her (to be her Happy Self). It was just really therapeutic. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should go on a little thing, too.” And then I realized, “I already am.”

It just gives me hope that this isn’t for nothing and I will come out of it all a Happy Self.

It’s true. I really am already on my own adventure. I live by myself (sometimes with Elijah) in a new city I’ve never lived in that is much bigger than the suburbia I grew up in and the small towns I visited. The dynamic of people, their mannerisms, everything is different. At the mall, once the movie was over, I realized that sitting on the bench drinking my smoothie – no one noticed me. No one spoke to me, no one saw me — I wouldn’t even have to go on a hike across the PCT to feel solitude. Life was happening all around me – yet separate from me.

I am not writing this as a depression piece — I actually find this very beautiful. The idea that I can sit in a populated area and simply be beside myself while having the opportunity to reach out and speak to anyone I wanted, it was like a super power.

A lot of my country-living family and relatives have asked me how I can do it, and that all the sirens and noise of the highway must drive me insane. When I began to speak of the ritual at night time when I turn all of the lights out and lay on my bed, stare up at my ceiling and the noise just… enters. Cars on the highway. People in their apartments (speaking softly). The occasional, nightly sirens going off. It’s all a symphony of hyperactive life all around. You will find each of these things – though maybe isolated – in the country. They won’t be as often, and the country leaves a lot of quiet – too much quiet for me. Too much silence for my thoughts to invade where they shouldn’t and cause problems that never were.

But here? Here, it is a symphony. It is music inside of earbuds taped to my head as I drift off to sleep. I am at such peace, yet I am still able to think – and better yet, control where my thoughts linger. I am able to contemplate the last year of my life, where it ‘all went wrong, and then take a deep breath as I release the burden to the sky.

Every day that I am off, I have ventured in to the city – to a location I’ve never been. I’ve been to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or two, a privately owned pharmacy, a coin-laundromat on the other side of town, and even walked a mall I’ve never taken time to bother with. Every day, I put myself out there without going farther than 10 miles from my new home. There’s people of all walks of life here, and I finally feel like I can belong in such a new place without everyone staring at me like I am the new girl. I’m not the new girl in town anymore. I’m the new girl in the city – and that’s exciting. I can walk around with the utmost confidence because no one knows me, no one can snoop up who my family is off a whim of asking ‘granny down the street who’s kin I belong to’ or any of the more ‘comfortable’ details of living in a small town.

And I know this won’t last forever. I know, someday I will find someone up to my level who will sway me to move elsewhere – whether it’s in Texas or not – and my single-living-apartment-adventure will end..

But it’s not about the start or finish. It’s about the journey. It always has been. I have been so focused, the last half year, on reaching the finish line of my grief. I gave up a life I had – a beautiful life that I had with a beautiful family. You will be hard pressed to find more decent and considerate folks than Mr. Donald Dyer and Mrs. Debbie Dyer, my ex-husband’s parents. I will be hard pressed to find a more compassionate man than Matthew was – and remains to be. I am so blessed to call him co-parent to my child, Elijah. That young boy will want for nothing.

As the holidays came upon us, I look on it now like it was all a blur, though at the time it was very much not. Thanksgiving came like a slap to the face. My birthday arrived a week later with news of needing to pack everything up immediately and find a place to live, my dad having hardship that aided this, and then being single for my birthday for the first time in.. at least a decade. Then three weeks blew by as I packed, searched, found, scavenged for the money, and then moved in three days before Christmas. I didn’t even have a tree, let alone the amount of presents I wanted for Elijah – but we’re doing fine. He made out like a bandit. But I was single, once more, for the third anniversary of celebration in a row within a month. Thanksgiving. My birthday. Christmas.

It was a lot of grief, a lot of pain they don’t tell you about. I remember texting my mother the day of Christmas, prepared to beg that I stay home because it was all too much. But instead, I decided it was time to get out of bed. It was time to go see my family – because that’s what it is about and I lost sight of that. I went and had the best time at my stepfather’s parents’ house with the whole family, eating, laughing, playing games. My sister, her best friend, and I went to the movies for a double feature and I didn’t get home until the early morning next day.

I feel like I was prepared for New Years Ever, and then Day. I had made it through the past month with my head above water, and a strong mind. Crying is alright, and grief is a place I went for the holidays, but the important thing to remember is not to live there. This, too, shall pass.

New Years Eve was a blast. New Years Day was a revelation, not because of the first day of a new year but because of the events that happened on it.

It’s time to stop grieving.

It’s time to let it go.

It’s time to be a Happy Me.

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