Just over month ago I turned 30.
I had so many plans and dreams and expectations about what 30 would look like. I wasn’t one of those people who dreaded it. I expected to leave the struggles and uncertainty of my twenties behind me and embrace a new decade as a more powerful and confident version of myself.
I wasn’t exactly wrong… but I wasn’t exactly right.
I enjoy taking time around stereotypical life milestones to reflect on things leading up to that point, compare it with my expectations, and readjust as I move forward. As 30 crept up on me I hungered for that day to come and go, one to symbolize a new beginning… a chance to start fresh. You know the “we can start over on Monday” mindset when you mess up a diet. I needed that with life.
As it turns out, I’d get that – just not in the way I expected.
Most of my twenties were incredibly amazing… times and decisions I wouldn’t trade for the world. I learned so much, grew so much, experienced so much. Not all experiences and growth were pleasant… many were painful and difficult. Each experience and decision led me to where I am today.
Today I’m sitting in my new downtown loft leaning against my upholstered headboard with the glow of the twinkle lights I just attached to it filling the tiny dark room. Despite having just moved in a few days ago, I’m completely unpacked and beginning to feel somewhat settled in. I’m cuddled up in my ruffly teal and purple bedding, complete with a matching mermaid sequin pillow. My room here is tiny, just big enough for my bed, nightstands, and my dresser, which is adorned with my growing collection of stuffies (I keep my favorite purple/rainbow giraffe, Pink, in bed with me). It’s silent minus the sounds of my fingers on the keyboard and the occasional siren or random shouting from the streets.
Despite the fact that it is tiny… I’m proud of my room. MY room. I’ve never ever ever in my 30 years had my own room. Growing up as the second of four children meant I was used to sharing my space. When I moved away from home to my internship program after high school I shared a room with 5 other girls. I made a short pit stop back at home for a few months after that year and half internship program and before getting married. When we eloped I first shared a house with my new husband and his two other roommates for a few months… eventually we moved out on our own to a one bedroom apartment, then a two bedroom apartment, then to what we thought was our dream house which we sold just last year and we moved back into an apartment. Each place was ours. but this one… it’s just mine.
Ah, yes. There it is.
The bombshell I’ve been dancing around.
It feels like there is no truly natural, not awkward way to acknowledge the ending of a season… of a marriage. Life happens. People change and grow and not always at the same rate or in the same direction. We were young, oh so so so young. For a long time we skirted around the seriousness of the issues we were living with. To the world we may have looked like we had it all together, that we were living our happily ever after. We played the parts so well that even we were unaware of many of our issues. We did things right… This wasn’t supposed to happen to us… The fear of disappointing each other, ourselves, and those who believed in us was so heavy that we couldn’t be honest with ourselves. Neither of us did anything more wrong than the other. We still love and care for each other, but we have admitted to ourselves and each other that we are no longer the best fit for each other in a marriage. We are still friends and we will continue to be as we co-parent together. Providing a loving environment… or two… for our daughter is our main priority.
I’m not trying to pretend like this has been easy. It hasn’t. Disassembling the life we built together for nearly a decade hasn’t been easy logistically: we’ve had to decide who gets what stuff and create a schedule for who has our daughter when… financially: the same income we lived on together in one household now has to stretch to cover two households… and emotionally: there is hurt that needs to heal, sadness that needs to felt, and dreams of a future together that need to be mourned. I’ve had days where I feel stronger than I’ve ever been and I can take on the world… and I’ve had days where all I’ve done is cried and getting out of bed seemed to be impossible. I’ve spent countless hours playing through every way I could have done something different to fix it and and just as much time excitedly dreaming of every new opportunity this presents. It’s been a roller coaster. I know those ups and downs will even out eventually… that letting go and moving on is a process.
So, this is 30. Embracing the opportunity for growth that this new decade provides I am now pursuing my dream of becoming a counselor, leaving the suburbs for downtown city living, and disassembling the life we shared as I rebuild myself and my life on my own… now that it’s just mine.