I buried my grandmother in early January 2011. I had the great fortune to be home in America for the holidays to be at her side before she passed. Nevertheless, the pain of losing her definitely set the tone for my entire 2011.
2011 would also see my eight-year relationship with my fiancé crumble. The agony of losing a relationship that I never thought would end left me feeling like the ground had collapsed beneath me. Without going into detail, the demise of our relationship was due to the fact that I saw my life in France, and he did not. While we both knew we were clinging to life support the last year or two, I lacked the strength to let go. He would be the one to walk away.
I admire his strength, because he awakened a greater strength inside of me, a strength I never knew I possessed.
I regret sincerely the pain we caused one another. He was and always will be a person who counted for me. The memories we lived together cannot be erased.
For awhile, I felt as if I was living a nightmare. So desperately I wanted to reclaim my "real life," the life I was "supposed" to have lived. There was a wedding dress hanging in my closet that would never be worn. There were dreams years in the making that had never been realized. There were children who would never exist now. For the first time in years, at 28 years old, my future is the blurry unknown. I felt like I had taken a train, and had gotten off at the wrong stop. This was never in the plan. I felt like a bird hovering near a broken branch. I didn't know where to land.
The reality of my decision to move to France has never been so cruel. Pursuing this dream has required countless sacrifices, but never like this. Was it worth it? I asked myself.
For months, my health suffered, my emotional state was plummeting, and my creative energy was crushed.
Walking down the street holding back tears was terrible. The people around me were oblivious to my torment. Even worse was standing before a classroom of students and pretending that everything was ok, even as they saw my reddened eyes and lack of passion as I spoke.
For the first time in my life, I spent the Christmas holidays in France, away from my family. Finances did not permit a trip to the States this year. If ever there was a moment when I NEEDED to be home in the States, this was it. But obviously life had other ideas for me, and this was simply not to be. I suppose crappy Christmases help you to truly appreciate the good ones.
I have never been so thankful to see a year end in my life. But, perhaps, all of this negativity signifies positive changes for 2012, changes that I do not realize yet. In the past few months, I have begun to see the beauty of the gift I have been given. I have a second chance at a dream.
Rather than seeing this as the death of what SHOULD have been, I am beginning to delight in the fact that I now have the chance to live the life I would have regretted NOT living had I pursued the original plan. The magical alternative. The unknown.
As of late I have had several friends telling me how much they admire my "avant garde" decision to take off for a new country and realize my dream, pursue my art, and live for passion, travel, and new experiences.
I have always been this way, since I can remember.
Staying true to myself has never been so painful, but I have a feeling that it has also never been this WORTH IT.
How can an artist continue to grow without heartbreak?
How can you appreciate true love until you've lost it?
How can you know how much your dream means to you until its been tested?
How can you know yourself if you sacrifice your dreams?
My optimism for 2012 continues to grow. And while that doesn't stop the pain, I know one day I will be grateful for the way things turned out.
It's a bittersweet feeling, but for the first time in many many months, I feel alive.
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost 1874 - 1963
|TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,|
|And sorry I could not travel both|
|And be one traveler, long I stood|
|And looked down one as far as I could|
|To where it bent in the undergrowth;||5|
|Then took the other, as just as fair,|
|And having perhaps the better claim,|
|Because it was grassy and wanted wear;|
|Though as for that the passing there|
|Had worn them really about the same,||10|
|And both that morning equally lay|
|In leaves no step had trodden black.|
|Oh, I kept the first for another day!|
|Yet knowing how way leads on to way,|
|I doubted if I should ever come back.||15|
|I shall be telling this with a sigh|
|Somewhere ages and ages hence:|
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference.|