Good Riddance 2022
"In order to reach the next level, you have to be able to sacrifice part of who you are now. It will be painful, but it's the only way" 💗 - Unknown
This has been one of the hardest years of my life; and I must admit I am glad to see it finally come to an end. This was the year I found out the meaning of strength and courage: to feel the fear and keep moving forward. The day I left my old life I was heartbroken on levels I was unaware even existed. I never knew the capacity the human heart has to suffer until now.
This was the year that I left the home I had created and the family I had hoped would be my forever. Unless you have tucked your kids into a bed in a home that no longer has your name on the title; and walked out the door headed for the unknown, it is impossible to describe the level of visceral pain and shame this causes. You can no longer hide from your failures.
This was the year my oldest son graduated and started on his own journey, into his own destiny. There would be no more waiting up until 2 am for the bus to drop him off, there would be no more piles of dirty clothes to wash that smelled like a teenage boy, there would be no more phone calls asking me to bring him whatever it was he had left behind that day on his way to school, and there would be no more complaining about the lack of microwavable food and boxes of snacks that endlessly disappear, no matter how often one stops at the grocery store. Eighteen years had finally arrived in a blink of an eye.
This was the year I had to leave my youngest son so that I could build and prepare for our new path forward. I almost backed out a thousand times, for what kind of mother leaves their child behind. The guilt was unbearable. Had my step dad not given me the best advice, I am sure this entire year would have had a very different outcome. He said something to the effect of:
" Steph, you are thinking with your heart and not with your mind. This is a problem that will be over sooner than you think. It requires a short term sacrifice for a long term solution. You can do this." I have leaned on this time and time again throughout my journey. It was also the year he adamantly told me I was "CRAZY" when I said I wanted to travel in an RV for a year 🤷♀️😂 Family is the best 💗Especially my mom, who's unwavering support has been my beacon while I was "out with lanterns, looking for my self".
This was the year I left my job of 6 years to begin a new job, in a new town, surrounded by new people; and this was the year I lost friendships, family, and a community I had been a part of for a decade. It was also the year that I learned the people who have the capacity to hurt us the most are not strangers - they are those whom we have trusted and loved. The ones we have been most vulnerable and open with. Sometimes we find that people are just not who we thought they were, no matter how much time we have spent with them and how well we thought we knew them. Anyone can change at any moment for any reason. Reality really is our own perception and sometimes we simply have it wrong. Sometimes our heroes are really mere mortals.
This was the year that I learned that the only way to get over grief is to simply walk directly into the fire. If you really want to heal, you must allow yourself to feel the deepest, darkest parts of your sorrow and pain. The only way into the light is through the darkness. And, how did I do this? I moved. Literally. Physically, mentally, spiritually. I rode my bike, I hiked mountains, I went to church, I explored in my vehicle, and I walked everywhere all the time. I never stopped. The only way to get any relief was to just keep moving. So that is what I did. Every moment of every day.
And, you know what. Ever so slowly, I began to move out of the darkness and into the light. I started a job with a company that honors and accommodates my situation as a single mom. I made friends with people who check in on me and value my presence in their life. I started creating new experiences and exploring my new home state. I began to remember who I was as an individual and most importantly, as a woman who was becoming fully herself. I started gaining confidence. I said yes to the things that brought me joy and I said no to the things that did not align with the person I wanted to become and the life I was creating for myself. I started laughing more and crying less. I went out on dates and had experiences (some made me laugh and others made me cringe 😂) and ever so slowly, I began to awake into my own destiny. Becoming is the hardest thing a person will ever do, but I promise you if you continue to fight and continue to show up, you will learn to love yourself exactly as God created you; and you will find happiness and peace again. If I can find my way, so can you 💗💗💗
As I was reflecting on the past year, and really the past decade of my life, I really wanted to do something tangible that would allow me to stay focused and present with my goals in 2023. I decided to make a vision/dream board with all of the things I wanted and I gave myself permission to really be OK with showcasing and asking for what I wanted without shame or guilt. I think the things I want aren't really all that different than what anyone wants: A handsome husband who adores me, financial security, a beautiful home, to be healthy and attractive, drive my dream jeep 😂, and to travel and explore my corner of the USA. I also added two things to my board that I would have been embarrassed to display before: my dream to publish and God. Just typing that out brought tears to my eyes. It is so overwhelming to know who you are: a beloved child of God and a writer. The relief of knowing exactly who you are and stepping into my purpose feels freeing and makes me feel alive. I then glued an envelope to the back of my board and wrote a letter to myself that contained my commitments and goals. Now I have a visual of what I want, where I am heading, and a letter to read whenever the fear sets in. It is proudly displayed for everyone to see and as a reminder to myself that God has my back. If I show up and keep putting myself out there, He will make it happen. Even though my board if filled with so many hopes and dreams, I surrounded it all with God. He has his angels working in my favor. My life is a testament to this.
2023 for me is about continuing to show up, growth, new beginnings, taking what is meant for me, and above all else working on my faith and my relationship with God. As I was saying my good byes to 2022, a miracle happened on the eve of the New Year. I am not yet ready to share, but damn it's good. It affirms for me that everything is exactly as it should be even when we don't understand. The best advice I can give is simply to never lose faith. If you are doing your part, God will be abundant in His.
The last thing I learned this year is that life can be so hard, but it is also wonderful, beautiful, and pretty darn amazing. One only need to step outside and see all the wonders, or spend time with your children. Miracles are everywhere. I accept where I am in my journey and I look forward to getting to where I am going. I remind myself to slow down and enjoy the journey. I wish everyone peace, love, joy, presence, and happiness in 2023. Here's to a great year!! Happy New Year everyone!!
P.s. The video ends a little wonky, but whatever 🤷♀️😂 It's a fitting way to end the year which defines the very word 🤪🥳
P.s.s. Someone told me to take pictures, even if they are selfies. I hated it at first, but I am so glad I did just so I could remember and see the journey. Also, who knew someone could have so many different hairstyles in a year 😜✌️❤️🤘
When the world unravels before you and even your dreams are crumbling stones when everything you dare to touch is set on fire and all around you is ash and smoke remember this rock bottom is a perfect place for rebuilding Remember that you are your mother's daughter your grandmothers answered prayers a whole bloodline of women who bend in response to raging winds there is nothing broken here nothing damaged or discarded each scar is a badge of honor every misstep is a victory dance waiting to happen You are a woman becoming learning the complicated language of forgiveness the intricate lessons of the universe Your heart is just a muscle it needs exercise and you were born for this sort of heavy lifting you were born one part saint one part warrior woman Loving yourself without shame is the most important thing you will ever have to fight for
💗 TITILOPE SONUGA