This last weekend my daughter turned one. This week is the one year mark of be being single and full-time single parent. The space between those dates is causing a lot of emotional turmoil. Joy that she's one, sadness that she's technically no longer a baby, anger dredged up from the past, memories of the pain. To me, it really is summed up in a text from a friend who just had a baby. I had sent her a note checking in on her and after a few back and forth messages about the pain of postpartum and the chaos of taking care of a newborn she just said 'I don't know how you did this on your own. You are a warrior goddess.'
And you know what? I fucking am.
I have written jokes about it in the past but postpartum recovery is not funny. Your body is torn up in unbelievable ways. Your organs are literally shifting back into place while your uterus shrinks through contractions. You are bleeding rivers. Your nipples are on fire. You aren't sleeping and oh my god the hormonal rush. After labor I was on such a high I could have jogged home. The endorphins released with natural childbirth are insane. Then they crash and you are left weeping and terrified. It is essentially all of your pre teen and teenage years squeezed into a two to four month period. It's absurdly intense. You don't know whether to cry, scream, laugh or run. Constantly. So you're in pain and healing and your emotions are a constant pendulum and you truly never know which way it's going to swing. In short: it's a super fun time, you should try it.
I was in this torn up, emotional hurricane and suddenly, unexpectedly, single. To say that this was the worst day of my life would be an understatement. It was and it will forever be a mile marker that I can look at and say that I got through it. Hell, I didn't just get through it, I thrived. There was of course the backslide. I literally laid in bed for 2 months, holding my baby. I hid from the world. I didn't sleep, not that she would let me, but even in the moments she would, I couldn't. I think I was awake for 6 weeks straight. I have a very poignant memory of my baby asleep in her rock and play chair while, I sat in the shower shaking with silent sobs. I didn't want to wake her but I couldn't keep it in anymore. I was bleeding still and in so much physical and emotional pain. I sat there and looked at her through the shower curtain and knew that I owed her so much more than a mom who couldn't stop crying. It was then that I decided I needed a plan. Every day from that point on, I plotted. I tried to figure out what to do with the tatters of my life and how I could slowly start to weave them all back together. Not just together, but into something better fitting and stronger. It kept me sane and it began to help me heal.
So then I moved back to California because I knew it and I knew happiness here. I needed to be in a place that could remind me of that. That smelled like orange blossoms and sunshine. I knew I wanted to work from home, whatever that meant. I needed to be close to her and have that flexibility. Freelance work started to come my way and I was able to build an income and replenish my severely depleted savings. More work came in. More work than I could handle, but I took it all and did it. 50, 60, 70, 80+ hour weeks more often than not with limited sleep but I needed to do that, to build a safety net for her and for me.
The plan will always continue to evolve but I am closer to done than I was before. After a year of cocooning, a year of sitting in the shambles and going through each and every piece of the rubble to figure out what could stay and what should go. It has been trying; I have been emotionally and mentally exhausted. Working as much as I have been while making sure she is happy, loved, thriving, has taken every single ounce of me. But I have done it. On my own I have survived teething, illness and very little sleep. But, I have started to rebuild with a solid foundation. I have a daughter who is secure and happy and laughs all day long. Who runs to me with her arms stretched out wide, a smile on her face, for hugs. Who loves me fully and completely. I have built a life for her full of abundance where she doesn't watch her mom cower and cry. She instead watches me work, and laugh and frankly, kick some serious ass. I have poured myself into her and it's been worth it.
This space here has changed a great deal over the last year. I've needed to have a place to shout into the void. To cry and beat my chest and move the world off my shoulders for a brief moment. I thank you for being there with me. That's how I want to end this last year: in thanks. I don't want to sit in sorrow any longer. I want to celebrate and breathe, finally, really and completely. So instead of sitting in a shower crying, this new year, this new year that doesn't start by January 1st, but rather on the marker of my worst day, I stand in deep thanks. To my family who has stood by me and believed in me. To my friends who have been there as I have twisted and turned inside out in pain and clawed my way back to find me again. To the moms around the world who I have befriended thanks to an app I didn't know would change my life, who have done more for me than they can ever possibly know. Each and every single one of these people has given me something I desperately needed. They made me feel so much less alone in this. They made me believe that I could do it. They helped me understand that I am a warrior.
And that what should have destroyed, forged me in fire instead.
One year. I did it.