A year

It is amazing how much change a year can make. Have you ever really looked at it? You notice a year pass when you have small kids because they change so much from one year to the next, they go from being a newborn to a toddler in a year (give or take). That’s huge. But once you get to be an adult years pass one much like the previous, your wrinkles get a little deeper, your hair a little more grey (unless of course you are like me and dye it religiously). Rarely does a single year make such a huge impact in your life. I mean it takes years to do the major things, buy a house, build a career, get a degree, save for a big holiday (or is that just a me thing?) A little over a year ago my whole world imploded.

Very dramatic no? But it’s the truth, in one night I went from being happily engaged to being single again. From having my future more or less mapped out in my head to feeling like my world had been put through a blender. This year has been a year of change and new experiences and learning to stand on my own two feet.

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I wish I could say that it’s been a blast, well some of it has been. some of it has been so much fun. But some of it has really sucked. As in REALLY friggen sucked. This last month in particular has sucked. It’s almost like my brain has latched onto the anniversary as a ticket to dump on me.

This year has brought so much joy and quite a bit of pain. I am watching from a distance, caused by the frantic whirlwind that is university, one of my best friends going through an illness that I can only describe as brutal. She has been forced to quit her own studies which has from the sounds of it damned near broken her heart. I feel terrible for not being able to be more present with her. Although I did get a chance to make a small amount of mischief the other day and leave a gift at her front door reasonably anonymously. I am constantly amazed at her strength and her resilience.

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I am also aware of being alone. Not that it causes me terrible pain or would be worth going back, but on days like a couple of weeks ago when I walked out of my house to be greeted by a flat tyre and then had to figure out the suspension system for the spare tyre all on my own it would have been really nice to have had a man around! In the end a lovely couple who had driven past and seen me under the car drove back past and saw I was still under there and stopped and offered help. Which was lovely of them. But it’s a hard thing to feel so exposed, worse still to see the Messmakers so exposed. One of the downsides to my degree is learning about all of the ways that this separation has the potential to cripple them… it has made some of the readings excruciating to get through.

It makes weeks like the ones a few weeks ago where I have eleventy billion things to get done and no time to do any of them during the end of semester feel more pressured and less manageable.

But I can’t ignore the positives. I am grateful that rather than staying and stagnating in the small city we were in when Tinman dropped the bomb that I am in our home-city.

Not least of the reasons for that is the support that I have received from my family. My mother has been a constant support and has let me whinge and whine and complain, same with my middle sister. She has been limited in what she can do by distance but I know that if I need to talk she is only a phone call away and can be relied on to give me a reality check! My littlest sister has been a rock and a joy. It is odd how I feel like I never really got the chance to know her before now. I left this city almost 8 years ago now and for that time we rarely saw or spoke to each other. In the intervening time we caught up whenever we were in town or over the phone but never for long periods, the relationship was always a bit fractured. But she has grown up a lot over those years and we are more on the same page now despite being in completely different life stages. I cannot wait for the day that I can take her out for dinner or lunch and treat her as kindly as she has treated me. Finally my Dad and Step-Mum. I am so grateful to them for stepping in when I have really needed it as well. I never knew how soft a place I have had to fall all these years. I never knew how much backup I really had and if this had never happened I doubt I would have because I never would have allowed them to help prior to this. I was always too proud.

Which brings me to the changes that have been wrought in me. Pride comes before a fall right? I had a whole lot of pride, worse still, I was proud of someone else’s achievements rather than my own. I know that my pride has taken a battering in the last 12 months. I can’t say that it is a bad thing.

I have been forced into a position where self control has become essential, when one is being needlessly insulted holding your temper is such a skill. Tinman takes great joy in picking at various sore spots until I bite back. It’s his MO, when he can’t get a rise out of me that way he threatens me with blackmail (private messages between myself and him, private conversations. Things that you share with your partner that you don’t want exposed to your family or friends…. those sorts of things he holds over my head). It’s a sick twisted little game but it’s been helpful to me because it’s teaching me better self control than I have ever had.

Meanwhile the kids have had their own share of issues to deal with. Moody has lost the man who he has seen as a father for the last 7 years, the younger two have lost the day to day relationship with their father, they spend far more time these days talking to his voicemail than to him which makes all of us sad. But they are coping, partly due to a renewed relationship with our family, grandparents, uncles and aunts and partly due to finally settling in here. Which is the important thing I suppose. In the last year we have put down roots. All of us have made friends in the local area, we have been so blessed to have met so many lovely people. We are getting familiar with the local area and the kids are all beginning to get involved in after school activities. For the first time in a long time I am not worrying about having to move them, about the next stop, the next time I am going to have to disrupt their little lives. We are able to really settle, look to a somewhat predictable future. It’s a strange feeling. I look at houses for sale around our area and think about whether I will be able to afford something like that in time. But I know that for now anyway there is no reason for us to move away, no reason the kids need to swap schools or miss their friends. Which is alone worth it’s weight in gold.

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The last 12 months have been tough, but I am lucky that this is the toughest thing I have faced yet. I have been positively blessed through my life, which sounds incredibly smug but it’s true. I have read a few times that our periods of greatest growth come when we are knocked down to our weakest. Right now I can see that has been true of the last 12 months.

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