December 17th is a day that I'd just as soon forget, but it's important in the terms of remembering upsides.
See, on this day in 2005 I went volunteering for Camp Good Days at the mall, selling candy cane pens and kazoos, then went to a friend's house for cookie baking, and that is the point where my entire world was set on its end.
I was told the unpleasant truth that my husband of 5 years had been cheating on me for 3 1/2 years of our 5 year marriage, with not one but two people, and the sordid details were just horrific and I felt the relative safety of my denial shatter around me in tiny shards of HOLY SHIT MY LIFE IS OVER.
Except it wasn't.
That day was horrific at the time, and so painful, and I was afraid and relieved (he wasn't nice to me, which is an incredible understatement, and it makes me sad to this day that I felt I deserved the treatment I got and that cheating was my out, not just "I deserve more") all at the same time, but mostly devastated that my existence was suddenly turned upside down.
Looking back now, that was the turning point where I was set free to seek the life that I deserved, to find true happiness and love and respect and friendship and passion without contempt and little violences.
What was easily the worst day of my life at that time became the beginning of the best days of my life. Looking back, I thank my lucky stars for that day.
Even though it turned out that parenthood wasn't in the cards for me, I would far rather take my beautiful life with Bryce than what I had in the Before times, even if it came with a child. I am so fortunate, and that day is like an Independence Day of sorts.
Also, in related news, I found out on Saturday that I achieved my National Board Certification, which is a huge milestone in my teaching career and something I wasn't sure I'd manage.
The reason why is that the majority of my writing time was supposed to take place over April Break, and instead of buckling down to that intellectual, reflective work I found myself in a bit of a mental crisis and needing to take time to pull my ooey gooey pieces back together again. The timing was HORRIFIC. I wrote the majority of my papers for the last two components over Mother's Day weekend of all days, highly ironic since by then I knew that that was a holiday that would never be for me.
But I PASSED, and I passed not by a small margin. I killed it. I am proud, and feel like despite that being another worst time ever in my life, it made an achievement possible for me, one that is incredibly fulfilling and brings me joy.
I am not saying to be Pollyanna about pain, not at all. But just know that when it seems like the world is ending and your life won't ever be the same...maybe it's not the worst thing. Maybe it just means that something way better is heading your way.
Unfortunately I've had way too many opportunities to be the phoenix rising from the ashes in my life, but at the same time -- how much do I appreciate these accomplishments? My amazing marriage, my fulfilling life, my National Board certification as a special education teacher (only 3% of teachers nationwide hold this distinction in the U.S.) -- the upside is so, so good, and the pain I went through to get here only makes it sweeter.
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