Thursday, August 18, 2016

Officially Four Years ( or I Just Want to Ramble About Myself For a Moment )

It's been four years.

Officially, four years.

I woke up this morning, earlier than I wanted to wake up. ( But, honestly, it's always too early for me. ) Took the dog for a walk, and as we were on out walk, it dawned on me...

It's officially been four years single. Four years since I ended my financially stable, good enough, safe relationship because it wasn't quite right. ( Not to mention his blatant disregard for my privacy and lack of ability to just talk to me about things, but that's besides the point. )

And that's what it really was, it wasn't quite right.

* Brace yourself. This gets cheesy and cliche from here on out. If you're allergic to that stuff, stop now *

Eight months earlier I had begun a sport which would start me on a journey of self-discovery, self-awareness, and a profound shift in how I see not only myself, but the world.

Roller derby. How the hell did I even get past the recruitment night? I spent more time on my ass than I did up on my skates. ( And I honestly do not think I am exaggerating at all on that point. ) At the end of it, I had convinced myself that this sport wasn't for me. How could it be? I couldn't skate. I was so out of shape that I was winded after just a few minutes out there.  ( Full disclosure: I weighed in at around 320 lbs at this point. ) I was painfully shy and lacked confidence in a sea of strong, confident women. But, what made me return was one simple exchange between me and a couple veteran skaters as I was about to walk out the door at the end of the night.

" Are you coming back? " She shouted at me.
" I...I don't know, "
" You should. You have the perfect body for derby!! "
" Yeah! " The skater sitting beside her says " We'll teach you how to use those hips, "

Never in my life had anything about me ever been described as perfect by anyone other than my mother. Never had I ever been told by anyone, after I spent a whole 2 hours effectively failing at everything I tried to do, that I had a potential that needed to be encouraged. I was 30 years old and had never experienced encouragement and acceptance like I had that night, in the one quick exchange. Those two skaters' names I cannot recall anymore, possibly Knox and Betty Something, but their faces are etched in my mind.

And I went back. Took me five months to get there, but I went back.

Six months later, I left my job and started chair renting. I was self-employed. An incredible achievement for me.

Eight months later, four years ago today, I left my relationship, less than two months before my wedding date.

This was an incredible shock to most people in my life. How do you answer the question " What happened? " when nothing really happened. How do you explain that it just wasn't right? How do you explain that your heart sank when he asked you to marry him? How do you explain that you couldn't justify to yourself at that point why you shouldn't? It was the perfect proposal, after all. On a bench, after a picnic, in the park on Pont Neuf in Paris, part way through our month long European adventure.

Truth be told, I didn't even answer him. I just cried. I allowed him to think it was out of happiness. I never actually said yes. I couldn't. I couldn't get that word out of my mouth. I'm not proud of that, but I rationalized it by telling myself that I was just too shocked to answer. ( It was completely unexpected. ) And I thought that when the shock wore off I would be thrilled! I texted my best friend, Ron, later that day to tell him. The text read something along the lines of " So, Ben asked me to marry him, " Ron says he knew immediately that this wasn't good, that I wasn't happy. I'm convinced that man knew me better than I knew myself at the time. A decade of friendship will do that. ( And I miss him dearly nearly every day. )

I wasn't thrilled.

The more planning that went into this wedding, which ended up being far more than I wanted, the more that sinking feeling in my stomach grew.  ( In his defense, my ideal wedding is a little chapel in Vegas with Elvis as the officiant. A desire I had expressed previously, and since, but I don\t think anyone takes me seriously when I say it. For the record, I am dead serious about this. ) I have never seen marriage as a goal in life, and therefore, having a wedding is not something I care much about.

I continued to tell myself that it was just those pre-wedding jitters. All brides get them. As a hairdresser, I had been around enough brides to know that nervousness and jitters is completely normal. But, I knew it was more than that. I tried to broach these feelings with a few people. Most told me to was normal. Only a couple suggested I think about this a little harder. Christina and Josh ( or Klutch. Derby names die hard. ) along with Ron, were the only three, out of a large group of people who even hinted that something wasn't right here.

I kept putting off the planning. Save the dates and invitations never got sent out. I barely told anyone. I arranged for a friend to make my dress, but never really pushed for fittings. I did ask my brother to be my maid of honour,( Yeah, you read that right. ) but stalled on getting him names of friends for my bachelorette party. I still wonder what he would have come up with for that.

( You know, brother, you could just throw me an awesome party, any time you want, for no reason. )

And it was this day, four years ago, that I returned from supporting the men's derby team in Calgary to my fiancee telling me that he had looked through my phone a week or so prior while I was in the shower. Why? He claims it was because he knew something was wrong and wanted to know what it was. But, I call bullshit on that.

He thought I was cheating on him.

I wasn't.

But, he did read some texts stating my hesitation and being unsure of marrying him.

He did read my personal conversations with friends about fears and my feelings.

He violated my trust and my privacy.

I left that night, stayed in a hotel by myself.

And never went back.

He accused me of cheating. Of being a gold digger ( because I asked for the down payment I put on the condo back, and the 3100$ I had just given to the condo board a couple weeks prior to redo the windows.This was after he had gone through my phone. He knew something was up and still allowed me to shell out that money! )

He called me useless. He told me I contributed nothing to the relationship. That I was entitled to nothing. He questioned whether I had even put money into the down payment. He told me that I owed him for the trip to Europe ( I paid my own way. )

He blamed his debt on me. He blamed everything on me. He said a whole manner of things to and about me.

He lied to me.

I lost the deposits on the wedding venues, I lost my down payment on the condo. I lost that 3100$ for the windows. I walked away with virtually nothing but my dog.

I lived with my younger brother for seven months. I had nothing. I was broke. I had a new business that I was just trying to get off the ground. I took part-time work just to make ends meet. I went from driving an '07 Monte Carlo to a '97 Chrysler Neon. ( I still miss the engine in that Monte Carlo. )

And I threw myself into roller derby. I fell and they picked me back up, time and time again. ( Metaphorically and literally. I fell, and still fall, a lot in that sport. It hurts. I always hurt. ) I yelled, I screamed, I cried. I threw things. And those people still accepted me. Still held onto me, and still supported me.

And I thrived.

A year later and a half later, I had my own apartment, supporting myself by myself on my self-employment income.

A few months after that, I took up power lifting. I had no idea I could be that strong.

A year later, I made a decade long dream come true and traveled to India, and trip that completely altered my perception of life. I came back more compassionate, more introspective, and no longer willing to sit back and let the world go by without me.

I became a warrior.

Two months later, I bought my business.

Four months after that I bought a motorcycle.

And eight months after that, I bought my house.

I learned to take fear and use it. I learned to use disappointed to make me better. I learned to challenge expectations put on me, but not only others, but by myself.

My dad said to me the other day " I never doubted that you would find your own path in life. "

I doubted it. I doubted it most of my life without even realizing I was doubting it. I doubted myself.

I never thought I'd be single at 34. I never thought I'd own my own home, my own business, a motorcycle. I never thought I'd actually get to India. I never thought I'd be in a position to help my friends when they need it. I never thought I'd be as loud and a vocal as I am in the face of injustice. I never thought I'd be directly politically involved, that that I could count politicians and people making a real difference as friends. I never thought I'd be called an inspiration, strong, real, or a role model. ( Descriptions of me I am still far from comfortable with. ) I never thought I would figure out what it truly means to be me.

And I know I am strong enough to handle anything.

It's officially been four years to the day.

Four years since I took that first step and found my own path.

And I'm better for it.

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