Last night we all said goodbye to 2016. Some parted fondly, with mostly wonderful memories. Others may have been flipping 2016 the bird as it left. As for me, I think I’m a bit in the middle.
I thought becoming a mother would be the most drastic, life-altering event I would experience. Turns out, it wasn’t. Yes, my life changed forever when my baby boy was born. Those first weeks and months were difficult, exhausting, wonderful, and heart-breaking.
Nothing, however, prepared me for complete upheaval of becoming a single mother. In April, my boy’s father and I separated. Having been a stay-at-home-mom for three years, I had no income, no savings, and only one place to go. If you’ve never had to move back in with your parents as an adult, you may not realize what a huge blow it is to your confidence. That, in addition to the fresh separation, had me feeling incredibly low. Maybe not quite rock bottom, but very close.
I was sure I couldn’t support myself and my child. Every time he looked at me with so much trust in his eyes, I felt my heart drop. Before my boy came along, I would have probably spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch. Eating foods that were terrible for me in frighteningly large quantities. Sleeping days away. Feeling sorry for myself.
But after O was born in 2012, I had begun paying more attention to my health. I started 21 Day Fix, finished it, and kept going. About a year before the separation I found a wonderful therapist that helped me understand my depression and anxiety, and it was her voice saying, “You are so much stronger than you know” that got me through some of my darkest days.
In 2016, I began to seriously advocate for my own health. For once, I refused to accept that my daily extreme exhaustion was normal. My new primary care doctor agreed, and a sleep study determined that I have Narcolepsy. Treatment made almost immediate changes in my life… I could wake up in the morning without feeling sluggish. Working out actually gave me more energy, I felt lighter, and every day tasks were no longer overwhelming.
The separation knocked me back for a bit, but therapy was my lifeline. While we worked through the emotional impact of my new status as a single mother, we also uncovered a new diagnosis. Never in a million years would I have considered ADD, but after learning more about the disorder it explained so many of my lifelong struggles.
In 2016, I was getting to know myself in ways that had never been possible before…and I realized that I truly loved the person I had become. For each setback, I found a way to grow stronger, my voice got louder, I stood a bit taller. I worried less and less whether people liked me, focusing instead on whether I liked them. I cut my long hair into a pixie, then started having it dyed rainbow colors to match my newfound inner boldness.
Throughout all of the changes, fitness had remained constant. No matter what, I made sure to work out each morning. As my emotional strength grew, so did my physical strength. During the summer of 2016, I accepted a position as a ballroom dance instructor and began intense training. In November, I became certified as a CIZE! Live instructor through Beachbody…And from there, I finally figured out what I really wanted to be when I grew up. It only took 35 years.
I now teach CIZE! Live and ballroom dance at the studio, and I will be teaching group fitness classes at a local gym starting this week. I’m so excited to finally be doing something I love and helping other people along the way.
The week before Christmas, I was able to move into a perfect little house. Waking up Christmas morning with my boy in our home was the best present I could have ever received.
Because O was with his father, I spend the last night of 2016 with my parents and my aunt and uncle. My heart feels a little lighter today, because (even though I sometimes think real love doesn’t exist) there’s nothing quite like seeing two people that are still deeply in love after over 30 years of marriage.
Am I glad that 2016 is over? Absolutely. Do I wish it had never happened? Not for one second. All of the heartbreak, setbacks, stress, and anger was necessary for me to experience so much growth. I can look back on 2016 with a sense of accomplishment.
2016 humbled me and tried to break me, but instead it lit a fire that burns brighter every day. I welcome 2017 with open arms, and all of the growth, opportunity, and lessons it will bring.