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what a difference a year makes

February 11, 2013


Today marks the 1-year anniversary of my arrival in London. This time last year, I was landing at Heathrow airport with a single suitcase and a few trinkets from home, my heart full to the brim with hope.  The woman at immigration stamped my spousal visa and said “Welcome to England” and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. Joe was waiting for me at arrivals and I ran into his arms just like you see in the movies and we took off to the country for a romantic weekend. Finally. FINALLY, we were together. And thus began my new life. I was ready to tackle it all. This new city, this new married life, this new culture, this fairy tale. I was so bloody excited to BEGIN!

The transition, however, didn’t go quite as easily as I’d hoped.

With each passing day, excitement waned and turned to fear. It felt like I was cracking out of a chrysalis prematurely. In the middle of winter. Wings frozen. Full paralysis. But nobody wants to hear you whine when you have everything you’ve ever wanted. And so, I didn’t tell you.

I didn’t tell you about how I felt so dark and alone at times last year that I feared for my own sanity. I didn’t tell you that I started therapy. I didn’t tell you how many tears I shed and how many fights we had and how the stress nearly tore us apart. I didn’t tell you that I lost myself, completely. I didn’t tell you about the time I went to the doctor’s in tears and begged her to prescribe something that would help take the pain away. I used to judge people who took antidepressants. I was that annoying all mighty girl, up on her high horse who thought “You just need to exercise more, eat better, get some fresh air, take vitamin B supplements.” I didn’t know sadness and anxiety could take over and cripple you. But now that I do, my compassion runs deep and I can no longer judge anyone. I have no right. I never did. I can only be the judge of my own self.

I didn’t tell you because I was ashamed. And I felt weak. And it felt ugly. And I live in the land of “musn’t grumble” and “keep calm and carry on”. But at some point, a girl’s gotta let it out and you have to say, fuck it, I’m human and it’s hard being human and I’m not perfect and I’m learning every day and I am a work in progress. And sometimes you have to share your sad stories so that other people feel less alone. Being vulnerable allows other people to share their vulnerability and in a strange way, that makes us all stronger. And I adamantly believe that if we are stronger as a collective, we can create a better world.

This past year was one giant growth spurt and many leaps of faith. My bones still ache from it. But if I hadn’t gone through the crap and scraped rock bottom, I wouldn’t be here, on the other side. All that crap? That was me shedding old skin and making room for the new. And it was terrifying, the transformation. And there are still days when I feel like I’m shedding but I’m slowly starting to fit into this new skin. With a whole lot of meditation and a whole lot of communication and a whole lot of help from my friends and family (for whom I am so grateful)… as well as exercise and vitamin B supplements.

And I’m here to tell anyone who’s going through hell that you will make your way back. You’ll want to sleep through it all but you can’t. The only way to the other side is through. It will hurt like hell and it will be really scary and you’ll fall many times. Sometimes you’ll pick yourself up, sometimes other people will have to do it for you. Some people will do it gently. Others will give you a swift kick in the ass. But it all comes from a place of love and you are never alone. And I promise you this, if you have the courage to push on through, you will get off the roller coaster in the end. And you’ll say “Bloody hell, that was shitty. I don’t ever want to go on that ride again” But you’ll be stronger for it. You will have a better understanding of who you are. You will know compassion. You will feel gratitude. And you will have gathered the tools you need to make it through the next storm.

Because there will always be storms. Little ones and big ones. And I hope that none are as long as the storm of 2012 but I don’t know what life has in store for me. All I know is that right now, I am here, sitting at a desk, in my house in London, with a wool blanket wrapped around my shoulders. A light snow continues to fall over the city. All the rooftops are white, like gingerbread houses with a dusting of powdered sugar. Little swirls of steam hover over my ginger tea. I’m doing what I love most – writing. And this is the fairy tale, people. All of it. The fairy god mother and the wicked witch. One does not exist without the other. There is no white without black. No sun without clouds. Nobody wants to hear the sad story. But the truth is, it’s the sad stories that make the happy times happier.

What I didn’t tell you is that he held me a LOT this past year and told me “What does it feel like to have someone who loves you no matter what?” I didn’t know that kind of unconditional love existed. And in my state of mind, I didn’t think I deserved it. But now I know I do.

I’ve been feeling really good for the past few months. Lighter. Sunnier. I’ve left the dark side. My roots have begun to sink into this British soil, my branches are reaching out towards the light. I’ve even finally committed to changing my name to Stewart to officially seal the transition. But know this, you can take the Caron out of a girl’s name, however you can never take the Caron out of her heart. The force is strong in that name. It is fierce. It was born to survive and thrive and it is what got me through this past year.

And what a difference a year makes. Today is a milestone and I’m going to celebrate it. With champagne & chocolate.

Transition: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Passage – change – crossing.

It’s good to be on the other side, peeps! It’s real good!  Year number two? Bring it!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Liz permalink
    February 11, 2013 1:53 pm

    Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability.

    Vulnerability = Strength.


  2. February 11, 2013 1:58 pm

    Oh, girl. It’s never easy, even when we have everything we could ever wish for. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy to know you are through and on the other side of it. xo

  3. February 11, 2013 2:02 pm

    Amen, sister.

    Nice to have you back.


  4. February 11, 2013 2:04 pm

    I can relate- the first year of my marriage was so hard. I cried, we fought, I had panic attacks in the middle of the night where I couldn’t breathe and thought I was drowning, I entered therapy. And then, a year later, we came out on the other side, both of us, together. Here we are, five years and two kids later, and we are stronger. We have learned to laugh through the hard times, to work together, instead of drift apart.

    We wouldn’t be here without having gone through the hard times. I’m so glad you are through it. I hope this year is full of joy.


  5. February 11, 2013 2:07 pm

    Having gone through what can only be called a “pruning” year myself, I wish you continued joy as you climb.

  6. February 11, 2013 2:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. The struggle, the heart ache, the unconditional love. It is in sharing our vulnerable stories that help us heal, guide us through, and lets us know that we are not alone.

    You Dear Girl you are so deserving of the unconditional love that is swirling around you. So glad to see you sinking into it.

    Sending you so much love as you jump into year 2. Congratulations on making it to the other side.

  7. February 11, 2013 3:00 pm

    Oh god, this is so touching! Thak you for sharing so deep emotions with us.
    Today, one year ago I smiled at guy in bus and what a year can make – he is the most important person in my life. And I´m glad that you shared your bad moments with us, it makes me sure that I can handle ever small problem, that appear.

  8. Arabella permalink
    February 11, 2013 3:12 pm

    Oh my goodness. One part – feeling so much for you because you didn’t share all the struggles. And the other part not surprised. Because holy cr*p. How could it NOT have pulled you apart to do all this. Move and marry and leave your family and live in a whole other land. I’ve done that but not at the speed and the way you have. And on top of the…good lord British winters SUCK. Big love to you. So glad you are moving towards a slower, gentler season. I hope the celebrations are wonderful and that you hold onto that feeling on loved-no-matter-what every day. It’s good. xo

  9. kat permalink
    February 11, 2013 4:02 pm

    as always you speak right to my heart and never cease to fill it with hope and that is a very good thing.
    i love you past the farthest star and all the way back into your heart.

  10. February 11, 2013 7:56 pm

    Ah, girl I love you and your words.
    Thank you for your fierceness and your vulnerability and your light.

  11. February 11, 2013 11:47 pm

    Is it weird that I kind of knew? You didn’t tell, but I am really good at inference. I am thrilled that you are back to the land of happy! I could kind of tell that as well. Congratulations, on your new beautiful UNfrozen wings. And, you definitely deserve unconditional love…sending some to you now… Happy first anniversary of being “English.” xoxo

  12. kmthouston permalink
    February 12, 2013 2:47 pm

    “he held me a LOT this past year and told me ‘What does it feel like to have someone who loves you no matter what?’”

    Oh man did this make my heart leap & swell. You lucky, lucky girl!!!

    Congratulations on making it through year 1. I’m glad you were brave enough to share your experience here. Sharing not only helps you, but also those you share it with, so never doubt that. Like Megsie, I could kind of tell…or wondered anyway…even though we’ve never met or spoken (and I rarely comment). But every now & again, you’d allude to it here and I’d hoped the quieter times were just times of you being busy, not struggling. But you made it–you didn’t run away or claim defeat–and from the sounds of it , both you & your marriage are stronger for it!

    Yay to you, Mrs. Stewart!!! And happy English-versary!

  13. Naomi Hattaway permalink
    February 13, 2013 6:06 am

    It is terribly difficult to be alone, sad, exhausted, etc. when you have everything (from an outsider’s viewpoint) … thanks for sharing this. Going to re-share the hell out of it … it’s something many of my peeps need to see/read.

  14. Beatrice permalink
    February 13, 2013 5:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing Jeanine! 🙂
    With a heart as beautiful as yours you will overcome anything and everything… and we’ll only see your grace and the beauty of your smile… 🙂
    Sending you a lots of love from chilly Montreal and remember, you’re never alone, there’s always sby having good thoughts for you 🙂

  15. caroline permalink
    February 15, 2013 11:53 am

    thanks Jeanine.
    this resonates with me tremendously right now, being in my first relationship that feels real ~ like it could last, a man who loves me through all my foibles ~ yet lately i feel like i have been trying to sabotage it. pushing him so hard b/c there’s this part of me that believes this is too good to be true, so i test it. it’s hard. i’ve had those moments of hitting the bottom, wondering why it is so hard when i have what i have always wanted. i’m figuring it out, but it’s still hard, and i hope to come through it with this relationship intact. thanks too to Christine and candidkay, it is so helpful for me to hear that others have been through this too. i welcome any more stories of this sort, i need them. and i am so happy you made it through the storm.

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