So. Here we are. It's amazing what a difference 365 days can make in a person's life. Sometimes, in some ways, it can feel like an entirely different life altogether...but hindsight being what it is, I can also see how it's exactly as it should be.
You may be shaking your head at my decision to rip off the title of the Worst Christmas Song of All Time...but if anything, I think that makes it especially fitting. Last Christmas may have looked pretty in the pictures, but it wasn't real. It felt real. I never imagined this Christmas would turn out this way, but so many lessons in life have to be learned the hard way...getting here was Hell on Earth. But when I think of all I've gained, I am so thankful...
My Girls: Yes, I've always had them...but I can honestly say I am 500% closer to them both than I was even a year ago...Sara and I have always been tight. We can have entire conversations without speaking and read each other's moods. But the thing is...when I hurt, she hurts, and vice versa. When The Fraud revealed himself, the pain was unbearable, and she felt it just as keenly as I did. Now she's the one suffering a hurt I can't fix for her, and facing an uncertain future that she wants no part of...my heart breaks for her every day, but it also has drawn us even closer.
Em and I...well, while I would give my life for her in the blink of an eye, we've always had to work harder to get along...I am happy to say, those days have mostly passed. We enjoy a genuine affection for each other as we continue to find more and more common ground. As it turns out, 14-year-old girls really DO need their mothers...especially when they have boyfriends and the questions that invariably go along with them...and a love of alt - rock...and a sarcastic wit...and the realization that they're smarter than most of the adults they know. We have our moments, of course. She IS 14. But we've covered an enormous amount of ground in the past year, and we actually like hanging out together. I couldn't ask for more.
Incredible Friends: In many ways, The Fraud was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But when I think of what I walked away with, I can honestly say I'd do it again. April is my soul sister in a million different ways. Skip and Monika are a huge blessing, and I never would've gotten to know them well if not for The Fraud. Derek is worth a hundred MC's. Not to mention the friends I've had forever that walked through the fire with me. Ashley has actually done it a few times now. Deanna and Ian had my back at every turn. Adam lent an ear and some elbow grease helping me put things back together. So really...I am lucky, and I am thankful.
Roger: For as long as most of my friends can remember, I was the one that didn't like dogs. Then last year, I met a guy with a dog. The guy turned out to be--as one of my dear friends said--crazier than a shit-house rat, and 10 times meaner, too. But the dog...he had me smitten. And when it was all said and done, I knew my family was missing someone...it just wasn't who I thought. Now, there is a man in the house. He weighs 110 pounds and walks on all fours, and he faithfully loves us all...who would have ever imagined this year I would have a pony sized pup walking around in a red and green scarf, looking like the Sassy Gay Dog? Certainly not I....
Me: It took me about a year and a half to really like myself on my own. Maybe a little longer...but the results are far beyond any intelligent words I could express. I have changed so much, and ultimately, it's been for the better. I feel good about the people in my life. I am okay with the relationships that I outgrew, though I still care deeply for those who I lost. I learned how to let go, and how to forgive the unforgivable...both in myself and in others. More than anything...I am okay with who I am, and I am proud of who I've become...my girls respect me for being true to myself. I know that now, and I am proud of the example I set for them. They look at me and see someone who's smart and strong. (Until I see a mouse, anyway.) They see someone who admits her mistakes and learns from them. They see someone who is doing it on her own terms and doesn't need a guy to complete her or make her happy. That isn't to say there isn't someone that I love. There is...but it's just a bonus for now, because I already have a wonderful life and I'm not ready to change it in any permanent way.
This Christmas is a million miles from where I expected to be last year. I'm a different person. Many of my friends are different...I'm closer to my girls. I have a dog, a new job, and a new church. My life looks completely different. I feel a tremendous sense of peace and love. And it's only getting better. :)