2022 – a year of change

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If you had asked me this time last year what I would be doing with my life, and how I would describe who I am going into 2022, I think it would be very different to the reality. My world was thrown into turmoil last year, and I have been slowly trying to find my footing again as we enter the new year. I feel like I lost pieces of myself over the past few years and I have taken the December break to re-learn who I am as just “Megan” – not Megan the sick one, nor Megan from Megan-and-Warren, and not Megan who works for Rare Diseases SA.

But I am getting ahead of myself now… Let me take you back to why this has been such a time of reflection and learning to love myself again.


Divorce

It has taken me close to 6 months to write this down. And just as long to fully accept that it is my reality. Marriage for me was always something sacred and my vows were forever. I always knew growing up that when I chose to marry someone, I was going to put my everything into that relationship. I love hard, fight hard, and will always support my partner. So when Warren sent me a message in September last year letting me know that he wanted a divorce, I felt like my entire world had come crushing down. I remember sitting in the office staring at my phone and feeling like I was in a vacuum as all the sound and surroundings were rushing past me.

When we were discussing it that night, I completely broke down. I begged, I pleaded, I sobbed, I shook with emotions, and I made promises to try harder, love more, and give more. But it was too late. The love from my husband was gone, and there was no way of getting it back.

Suddenly I was living in a world that I didn’t understand. I was alone, broken, and completely unsure of who I am. I felt like a failure for the fact that my marriage didn’t work out, and I couldn’t even face myself in a mirror. I felt fat, ugly, sad, and I could not stop crying. Would I be alone forever? Should I move back to KZN? What have I done wrong? How can I be a better person? Am I that unattractive?

I was working myself beyond what I could cope with, and I didn’t want to stop for a break as I then felt like all my emotions would hit me at once. I signed up for classes, I visited friends, and then I took sleeping tablets to help me fall asleep and to numb the emotions that were constantly peeking around the corner ready to attack. And I missed Warren so much. Not only as my husband, but also as my person that I could phone at any moment of any day to discuss anything. I was extremely lonely. I was alone.

And then slowly, day by day, I have been continuing to place one foot in front of the other and keep climbing this huge, scary mountain in front of me. I have learnt that I need to be selfish. I am learning that I am worthy. I have re-taught myself that I can eat that damn cake if I want to. I have learnt to laugh until I cry again. I have learnt to feel all my emotions, and not just simply put on a happy face for the world. Tears are ok. But so is laughter. And so is fear.

I cut off all my hair and dyed it blonde. I got my piercings again, and I even got a new tattoo. I started doing things that I love to do, and I didn’t have anyone telling me I couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to. I nurtured friendships that I had previously put aside. I told my friends and family I loved them. I started saying “no” to things I didn’t want to do or would hurt me in the long run. And I started saying “yes” to things that scared me and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was no longer being forced into a box into which I didn’t fit. Instead, I was creating my own crazy box with holes, and stickers, and glitter unicorns. And I feel like myself for the first time in years.

“It’s okay to be a glowstick.

Sometimes we need to break before we can shine”


COVID

Just as 2021 was coming to an end, and I felt like I was finally getting on top of my emotions and coping with the changes in my life, I contracted COVID. I am lucky that it was the Omicron variant, but I was still very sick and the isolation was absolutely terrible. My friends took great care of me and dropped off meals, medicine, spoils, and came to walk my dogs; but the loneliness was something I can’t even begin to describe. My depression began to rear its ugly little head, and I felt the long fingers tugging me down into a dark abyss. Was I a burden to my friends? Am I unlovable? Is this all my fault? How can I be a better person? I’m so lonely. I’m so alone. I’m alone. Alone.

And the year of firsts continued… The first would-have-been wedding anniversary, the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first new year. And every event felt like another stab to my heart. My adopted Joburg family and friends have covered me with love like a warm duvet and allowed me to fit seamlessly into their family unit. They have ensured that I have another home to visit, and that I was never fighting my emotions all on my own. They have loved me through the tears, the laughter, the snot, and the huge emotional mess. And they have encouraged me to be ME.


2022

And now, as I sit at my laptop and reflect on the past 6 months, I am proud of where I am now. I may still be that broken glowstick, and feel like I haven’t yet found the broken pieces of my heart from when it shattered; but I am hoping for a year of learning to love myself again and discovering exactly who “Megan” is.

This is what I have learnt so far:

  • I laugh – loudly
  • I have parties for one in my car
  • Music in my home is my happy place
  • My friends are freaking amazing
  • My family even more so
  • I prefer the physical pain of getting a piercing to the emotional pain that I have been trying to deal with
  • I love my pets more than a lot of people
  • I enjoy alone-time, but I also need to see people
  • I can be quite sarcastic
  • Board games are my jam
  • I want to be happy
  • I want to be loved
  • I want to love
  • When I die, I want to know I have made a positive impact
  • It’s ok to take anti-depressants
  • It’s ok to be selfish
  • It’s ok to say “no”

So now, I am taking in everything that has happened, and I am releasing all the negativity that has been holding me back. I can no longer just blame myself for the breaking down of my marriage. God still loves me, and I need to learn to love myself once again. Tomorrow I start work for the year, and I am excited to see where it takes me. I am no longer going to work my life away, but I am still going to put everything I can into the work that I do and make a difference through this.

I have chosen to claim the following as my words for the year, and I hope that they will speak to you too:

Self-love. Self-acceptance. Kindness. Growth.

Thank you to everyone for your support, love, understanding, and for holding my hand through this journey. It means so much more to me than you could ever know, and I truly appreciate your kind hearts.


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