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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How do you pick up the threads of an old life?

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold" - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Greetings friends,

So maybe my introduction is a bit dramatic. But as I looked back on the blog posts I wrote 3 or 4 years ago, it may well have been a lifetime ago.

Like my friends in the Hobbit stories, I feel like I've been "there and back again." Last time I blogged, which was 3 years ago, I had recently started a new job at a woman's college in Cleveland. One year ago, the opportunity arose to go back to the university I was working at in 2012, but full time. I went for it, and it was a good decision. I rekindled friendships, started new ones and I am really glad for the support I have found here.

I also started working on one of my "Life List" items - I am working on my Ed.D. as we speak! I am 2 years into my program, which means I'm halfway done! In May, 2018, I'll be Dr. Brittiani McNeil, which is pretty bad-ass. It's been hard and I can't tell you the number of times where I was like, the hell with it. But I think it will be worth it in the end. The doctorate will (hopefully!) open up new opportunities and doors for me.

I moved from the Youngstown area about a year ago. A bittersweet decision, as I had found a wonderful group of friends and support structure there. It was time to move on, though. And commuting from Youngstown to Cleveland, which is 64 miles one way, was killing me.

The divorce was finalized in October, 2013. It wasn't particularly messy or hostile. It ended quietly, with the sound of a gavel and the signing of some papers. There wasn't much to fight about, and in the end, he assured me that he would forget about being married once upon a time. So, forget-able me walked away a little older, a little colder, and much smarter, stronger, and realistic. As Frodo noted, "There are... some hurts that go too deep." Well, this scar hangs out. It's a little dead part of my heart. A bit of innocence and romance that will never return.

It's been nearly 3 years since we finalized. Four years since we split (hell, almost as long as we were married!). 95% of the time, I am awesome. Every so often, a memory is kicked up and it stings for a minute, or I run into his doppleganger at Target and nearly puke on his shoes (that actually happened!).

I have a wonderful man in my life. He was a theatre friend who became much more. My Tom has a larger than life, bombastic, weird-ass public persona, but inside is this big teddy bear. He has been supportive through everything, my biggest cheerleader as I work on my doctorate, and I really feel like I can be myself with him. I am grateful.

But I'm still a big girl in a small world. I am officially at my heaviest weight. My blood tests and all that medical stuff still comes back normal, but it won't forever. I'm 34. I don't have children. I don't know that I will. I know in the past, having a healthy pregnancy was a huge motivator for me, and when that idea kind of evaporated, so did my drive to be healthy. The divorce and other major life changes didn't help. Some people stop eating. I ate ALL the things. My life is super sedentary. I have an office job, I come home, eat dinner, do homework, go to bed.

Recently, I decided I was over what I was seeing in the mirror. I am tired of not having energy. So quietly, without any big announcement of fanfare, I just decided to say enough. I am eating better. I bought a little bike. I am starting out slow. I don't think I even told Tom. I just make the conscious decision to do a little better. For no other reason other than it's exactly what I need to do. And I think that will make all the difference.

So, my little Hobbit friend Frodo, "How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back?" The answer is, you don't. You take your tattered, worn threads, begin re-weaving them, and start over.

I'm going on an adventure! Will you join me?

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