Do you ever look back at the events of the past year and say, “it’s ONLY been a year?” Sometimes it feels like several years have passed in one. Like this last year.
One year ago, I regained my freedom. No, I wasn’t in prison. Well, not the criminal kind, at least. I was in the prison of a bad relationship and a miserable existence. I woke up every single day dreading life. I proceeded through the hours like a zombie, running on autopilot and counting down the hours until I could go back to bed and escape from my own life, if only for eight hours. Then one evening, everything started to change. I was sitting on the couch watching the news when my (now) ex turned to me and said she was moving out and that our relationship was over. At that instant in time, I was both upset and relieved. Upset because I felt like I had failed. Relieved because I knew I would finally have the chance to get MY life back on track.
Free of a relationship that had been sucking the life out of me and making me miserable to be around, I feel lighter and happier than I had in years. I started cooking again. Not the kind of boring, lifeless cooking I did in my relationship. That food was prepared in haste and for the picky tastes of people who were never happy with anything prepared for them. No, I started cooking for me. Foods that I loved. Foods that I had never made before. Experimenting with dishes, knowing that nobody would be bitching at me if they didn’t like it. I enjoyed cooking again. And I cooked when I was hungry, not worrying about if the meal was ready after 6:30. I ate when I wanted. I ate healthier. I enjoyed my meals again.
Without someone looking over my shoulder or criticizing everything I did, I returned to the things I loved. Wine. Books. Movies. TV. Friends. Regular exercise. I had missed out on living for four years because I was with someone who had to have control over everything, who was paranoid, who was miserable. Mental illness controlled everything in my house because I was in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t get help. Now, I’m free of the stress and burden that came with the relationship and the illness.
My friends and family were relieved when I told them I was finally free. Some said so out loud. Others didn’t but I knew they were thinking it. I told everyone it was ok to say it. I was saying it myself. And now that I was free of extra mouths to feed, I could look into freeing myself from my only other source of stress and misery: my job. The job I only took because my ex wanted the medical benefits, the benefits she never used. I continued to sacrifice my own happiness and dreams in an attempt to make her happy and give her what she wanted. The favor was never returned.
My health suffered while I was at that job. In February, I started to have severe vertigo attacks. Then, the vertigo became almost constant. After lots of tests and doctor visits, I was finally diagnosed with a condition that causes partial hearing loss and vertigo. Stress makes the symptoms worse. Not willing to be miserable or have my health suffer any longer, I took a big leap of faith. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t take leaps very often. I am not one who has a lot of faith in much of anything. I’m too jaded at this point. But I did it anyway. With no real plan and no savings to back me up, I resigned from my job at the end of June. The vertigo disappeared within a few days.
How have things worked out? I’ve been working part-time from home doing the same job I resigned from. That has seen me through the summer months. In a little over a week, I start a new job with a great company. I will still get to telecommute. I will have regular pay, great benefits, and be doing something I enjoy. I’ll regain my financial freedom and have the opportunity to get my retirement plans back on track. So far, so good.
Sitting on the same couch, in the same place, I write this one year later. I’m happy with where my career is headed. I’m happy to have my friends back in my life. I’m happy to be getting my health back. I guess all I needed to really do was jump and hope for the best.