Let’s just say that 2019 was the most challenging, emotional and spiritual year of my life. In the past year I have been through more upheaval than some people will experience in a life time. My marriage, my health, my family, my finances and my emotional wellbeing were in pieces around me. Much of what defined me collapsed in a matter of weeks.

Looking back over 2019, I want to be able to look back and be grateful, no matter the roadblocks that came in my way. I refuse to be bitter and allow these challenges to take away any power and the love that lies within me. I wanted to allow my pain and loss to take over any sense of joy or peace I felt. I wanted to give more space to my pain so that I could validate it, and somehow feel better through it. So I’ve decided that I’m gong to take time out today to reminisce on this painful year no matter the emotions that will surface, allow myself to dig deep and see all the bad and good that came to me.

New Year’s Day I decided to walk away from a very toxic marriage. A decision that took 2 years to make. Walking away from any relationship can be difficult, because been alone can be a very scary proposition. Staying would have been a tragedy. If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would definitely come with a high powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are just not immune to the poisoning lashings of a toxic relationship. Most relionships can feel impossibly difficult at times but for the most part it should feel nurturing and life-giving and at the very least they shouldn’t hurt. Breaking away from the marraige really felt like tearing at barbed wire with bare hands. The more you do this the more it hurts, so for a while you stop tearing, until you realise that its not the tearing that hurts, its the barbed wire – the relationship – and weather you tear it or not, it wont stop cutting into you.

In February, I went for a cycle and got knocked off my bike as I collided into a lorry. My injuries were a concussion, bruises and scratches. I was very lucky. People normally focus on the physical injuries but there was some anxiety and a little post traumatic stress over the weeks that followed. It wasn’t until months later that the reality of what could have been really hit me. I’m still afraid to cycle.

At the beginning of March the marriage breakdown had become hostile and dangerous. I felt broken, wounded and disconnected. The pain was like water, it always found a way to push through any seal. There was no way to stop it. I made the decision to leave my home. A very emotional, stressful decision but one I knew that I had to do. Downsizing from a beautiful three story house to living in a tiny ass bedroom was challenging, both emotionally and mentally. But I felt safe and you can’t put a price on that. I freed myself from material possessions. I’m learning to find home within myself and not look for it outside of myself.

At the end of March, just when I thought I was coming out of the storm, I was hit with the most devastating news ever. On Mothers Day the biggest tragedy of my life happened. My darling sisters life was taken from her. Just like that she was gone. Coping with a violent death is the most severe challenge I had to face. The challenges around this became two-fold. I found myself trying to deal with the trauma and cope with the grief. Many people live with the assumption that the world is a predictable, fair and just place. They believe that they are in control, that they are safe and secure. The harsh reality is very different. There is no way to find the slightest relief from this ordeal. On top of experiencing the natural pain of any loss, I’m finding myself particularly vulnerable to two of the harshest aspects of the whole grief process: self punishment and chaos. Thrown into a pool of torment where my emotions batter and rage without mercy. Along side this I’m dealing with unfamiliar responsibilities, unrealistic demands and very painful intrusions. All of this of course causes a very high level of personal chaos and confusion. Mental images of her death is a constant torture. Coping with agonising factual details and my own imaginings. Imagining her final moments can be the on going torment.

The next few months I put all my energy into the investigation of my sisters death. Threw myself into work but eventually work became very difficult. Working along side my husband was impossible. My stress levels were at an all time high. The environment was abnormal and in September the decision was made to close the business after 10years. Another kick, another loss. When was this year going to end?

I learned a lot in 2019. I learned how selfless I can be. Even in my darkest moments I still made space for others in my heart. I didn’t think I was capable of this. I know now I can give so much even when I feel I don’t have to. Whether that is time, money, love or things. I learned that I didn’t have to struggle alone. People genuinely cared. I had so many people try to help mend my heart. I’ve learned to stop trying too hard. I’m learning to be myself without giving a shit about what people think. I’ve been trying to do that my whole life but I’ve reached a whole new level of not giving a shit. Not because I don’t value other people’s opinions or beliefs, but because I’m beginning to value my own more. In 2019 I freed myself from other people’s expectations of me. I’m grateful for my courage to leave everything behind and start a whole new life. I’m very grateful for all the new entering my life and very grateful for the things that left. I’m grateful that I inspired you and that I inspired myself. I’m grateful that throughout the shittiest year of my life, I rose above and became more of who I am, and for that I am blessed.

I hope that anyone who is going through a challenging time, that they will read this and realise that they have no reason to feel despair. I hope they feel uplifted, encouraged and inspired and that their sparkle returns into their eyes.

I survived the year, going into new relationships, successes and extra large doses of happiness. 2019 definitely changed me. It hardened me up in some ways and it exposed long denied vulnerabilities, too. I’m looking forward to discovering all that 2020 has in store for me. I’m ready for ya!!