Sometimes the noise becomes deafening and all a person can do is tune it out.
2015 has been full of noise. I've dealt with severe health issues, the loss of more so-called friends, the death of my dog who had been my companion for 12 years, financial challenges more daunting than any other time in my life, and the 10 year anniversary of my husband's death only a few a weeks ago. Like a boulder sliding down the side of a mountain sending tiny rocks slamming to the earth in front of it, everything I'd fought for these past 10 years felt as if it were crumbling all around me.
So I went away.
Ten years...those two words haunted me. Ten years of scrambling to keep the house, guiding my daughter through severe anxiety issues after Sean's suicide, juggling the life of an only parent with two active kids, fighting to stay sane in the midst of overwhelming grief and fear of the future, writing novels and building a business. Ten years of being judged for having shot nerves, not sleeping, being alone, dropping a few balls here and there, not making the ends meet all of the time.
Do more, be more...you're letting everyone down. (My brother's words)
At twilight I would see elderly couples walking into the amazing sunset and I'd become wistful--will I ever have someone holding my hand again?
And I walked...and sat...and watched more birds...and slowly I realized that I enjoyed the solitude. I felt at peace with who I am. Unbidden, the sea whispered to me, "you're still here, you're still alive, you've made it this far, be proud of yourself, embrace your life."
I breathed in that sea air and left with a renewed sense of purpose.
|Lake Shrine (Ghandi's ashes in background), Santa Monica, CA|
My good friend called and said, "Come to LA...I miss you."
So I went...or fled...desperate to find that glimmer of the old me I'd found on the beach.
Over wine, laughter, and Pacific air, I realized that those doubts and fears never belonged to me. They belonged to the naysayers and the haters--those who scream my faults while whispering my praises. And my friend reminded me of something else--that woman with the big dreams and the confidence who acted fearless in her 20's is alive and well inside this 40 something woman today.
I had never lost it...had never lost myself...I'd simply tuned out.
Tragedy, losses, challenges upon challenges have overshadowed the fact that I raised two amazing young adults who are confident human beings. I've allowed others' judgment of my journey to impact my confidence. I've confided in the wrong people out of fear of being alone--but the reality is I enjoy my own company and always have. I've apologized for expressing my feelings--why?
I laughed at the realization, the sound bubbling up from deep within my soul and freeing me from the cage I'd created. I came home.
I came home to myself for the first time in over 10 years. I took off my wedding rings that I'd been wearing on my right hand. I stopped caring about the people who can't find it in their hearts to give a shit about me because I deserve better than that. I remembered that I am a fighter and am not going to give up anytime soon. I've accomplished a helluva lot on my own and am damn proud of it.
I stopped wondering if I'd find another man to love because I finally fell in love with myself.
I happily embrace my struggles and own my journey. I claim my accomplishments with pride. No longer will I shy away from the light or apologize for protecting my boundaries.
I have a lot of life left to live. I liked wandering that beach alone. I enjoyed hanging out with an old friend who reminded me that I have always been an ambitious dreamer who lived on the edge. This is who I am.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.