I got two tattoos this past weekend. Because, you know, I’m cool like that.* One of them was on my ribcage, which, according to some, is a painful location to get tattooed. When the needle hit the thin skin over my ribs, it took my breath away. The artist stopped and looked up, “you ok?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Just keep going. Don’t stop.”
He looked quizzically at me, shrugged, and went back to it. I put my head back and breathed deeply.
Every time he paused to see how I was doing, I said, “I’m good. Keep going.” And I kept breathing.
So, here’s the thing.
I am a planner. Spontaneity gives me anxiety. The unknown scares the crap out of me. But my life over the past year has been nothing but one unforeseen event after another. And every time I think my life is beginning to settle back into something that slightly resembles normal, something else pops up and says “Nope! Not yet! Here’s another issue you weren’t expecting, hadn’t planned on, and don’t welcome. But here I am. Now deal with me.” So many times I’ve felt like for every step forward I took, I was shoved back a mile. And yet, here I am, a year after I filed for divorce and turned my life upside down, still breathing.
One of the most difficult parts was putting my children through so much change. The guilt. The fear. The constant uncertainty and second guessing. The pain. It consumed me.
Last year was rough. It tested me in ways I’ve never been tested before. I’ve never felt so scared and so fucking alone. And now, as I’m beginning to see a dim light and the end of a very long, dark tunnel, I’ve been able to put down into words a few things I’ve learned.
What I learned while breathing through my divorce.
Find an outlet. My outlets are writing and running. When I’m pouring my guts out on a piece of paper or hitting the pavement, convinced I’m dying with every breath, I am the most authentic version of me. Exhaling, I release tension, and with every breath inward, I draw in positivity and a fresh start.
Know your truth. Always remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. When you question yourself, or when others question you, remember this: you know what’s best for you. When all the background noise dies down and you are left in that quiet place, pause and listen. Listen to whatever it is inside you that is the real you. Let me tell you something: it’s always right. Always. This has been my mantra throughout the past year and during the darkest times, I literally whispered this out loud, over and over: “Know your truth. Know your truth.”
Focus on your motivation. Why are you in your current situation? What put you where you are now? For me, it was the love I have for my children. My boys motivate me to be a better person and to remove any and all toxic relationships in my life. I do it for them. No, it’s not easy. But it is necessary.
Keep moving forward. There is danger in standing still. There have been times I’ve been paralyzed with fear and anxiety, and it’s during those times that it is imperative to keep moving forward. Take one step. One foot in front of the other. Do one thing, even if it’s just getting out of bed and taking a shower.
You can do it.
You are doing it.
Breathe through the pain.
When you finally exhale, you will be left with something entirely of truth and beauty.