Thanksgiving weekend, four years ago, I was in the middle of life changing chaos. Self inflicted chaos mostly, but chaos nonetheless. For the first time in my life I was living totally alone. My sons were grown and making lives of their own, which made me lonelier than I had imagined. I missed having a houseful of teenagers geeking over video games and still playing with Legos. I was in the middle of trying to buy my own home. My very own house, that I already loved. Going through the process alone, with no partner or significant other to shore me up through the ordeal. Thanksgiving weekend was supposed to be my moving weekend. I was packed, most of my stuff was in storage in anticipation, boxes were everywhere. I didn't even have enough kitchenware to contribute a dish for a potluck dinner I would be attending. I had lined up several strong, willing victims to help me move. I had given my landlord 30 days notice at the beginning of the month and the rental house I was leaving was scrubbed, repainted, and ready for the next tenant. I had already changed the address on my driver's license. But the deal wasn't done yet. Glitches and hitches in the inspection and appraisal had brought everything to a screeching halt, and threatened the whole process. It would be weeks before I would have the keys in my hand, if the whole deal didn't fall through. My stress level was over the top.
Add to this the fact that I had finally brought about the long-needed dissolution of a toxic relationship, and was still reeling from the backlash. No matter how badly you need to extricate yourself from someone who makes you miserable, after a decade of having them in your life, you go through the stages of grief, over and over. Thanksgiving Day, a long phone conversation, while I was maniacally scrubbing the kitchen, listening to the negativity and complaining coming over the line, I knew I had made the right decision. My head knew this, my soul knew this, just as you know someone is dead, but parts of you think they will walk through the door and all will be back to "normal."
For the first time in nearly two decades I was not hosting a holiday dinner. It made me feel even more removed from the rest of the world. I felt so alone and lonely, as if the rest of the planet was moving along without me, leaving me as a remote, desert island in the middle of a vast river of humanity.
The stress and grief made me lower my guard. Even though I was still working out religiously to help stave off the bulk of depression, my eating habits had fallen to hell. I was at the heaviest I had ever been. I stopped weighing myself when I hit 245. Yeah, you read that number right Two-hundred and forty five pounds. Holy hell. This added to my feelings of isolation and dejection.
An interesting point, looking back, with 20/20 hindsight. As tough as it was, as miserable and stressed as I felt, it really was only the beginning. I was heading into six months of the worst time of my life. I have suffered depression over the years, but it was nothing in comparison to what was coming. Later I would be diagnosed with severe depression, borderline bi-polar, reactive attachment disorder, anxiety, and insomnia.
But that Thanksgiving Day, for some reason really stands out in my mind as a turning point. It was a day full of bitter disappointment, isolation, depression, anxiety, and stress, stress, stress. But it was also the day my resolve to keep moving forward was made concrete and absolute. Winston Churchill said, "If you are going through Hell, keep going." I would learn to put one foot in front of the other. If I couldn't walk, I would crawl. I would move forward inch by agonizing inch. I would not give up my dream of owning the little house that was destined to be mine. I would learn to love being single, and living free and alone. Heart would mend, Brain would balance, Spirit would soar wild and free.
It has been four years, and every Thanksgiving I think back on that day. That singular day that stands out in my memory as a Life Lesson. I walked through Fire, fell into the darkest Abyss, but kept moving forward even when I felt like giving up. Now, for the last three and a half years I have been 85 pounds lighter, single, vegetarian, no meds, content, happy, Free. I am fitter and stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been at any time in my life. I can look back and see that day as the Gate to Hell, and even knowing the fire I would pass through, I would still walk into it, eyes wide open, knowing I would come through cleansed by the flames.