Ripping off the band-aid

tattooThis year was the first time in all the years that I’ve been back that I spent Christmas entirely alone. It wasn’t something that I had been looking forward to; indeed, I was downright dreading it, but now that it’s over I realize it was not such a bad thing. In fact, it was probably for the best that I was on my own for Christmas, because it gave me time — a lot of it — to think about my current lot in life and what to do with it in the immediate future.

When someone asked me earlier today how my year had been, my immediate response had been: “Horrifying.” In many ways, it was like getting my latest tattoo: the pain was excruciating throughout all 15 hours, but at some point I let the pain wash over me and just waited for it to be over. So now, especially when I think about everything that has transpired this year, particularly in the last eight and a half months, I realize that my response should have been: “Numbing.”

This was the year I lost the love of my life, the year I learned the price of loving someone too much, and the year I learned to never give so much of myself away again. This was the year that I truly understood what it means to do what makes you happy, because it takes real unhappiness to make you appreciate what makes you happy, and to make you reach out and take that happiness for your own. This was the year that I watched myself morph into something so heinous, so unrecognizable, that there were times when I wanted to give up and walk away just so I could salvage the last of my self-worth.

But no more. If there is one thing these last 10 days have made me realize, it’s that I have to be better than this. I have to be better than someone who allows herself to be put aside time and time again. I will not put myself through these 10 days again, not for another two weeks, not even for another day. I will not enter yet another new year with the curse of the last eight months hanging over my head, and I will not allow the selfish and childish whims of a 47-year-old stalker woman 4,744 miles away to control my life any longer.

As a friend told me, some months ago during the height of my emotional turmoil, “You can either slowly wean it off, or rip off the band-aid. It may seem easier to wean it off, but you’ll be prolonging the inevitable pain. You may not know what will happen once you rip off the band-aid, but whatever does come after that, it’s not this. This pain will be over.”

So come the new year, I will lose something that has been a part of my life, my being, my very soul, for the last two years. But from the ashes of that loss, I will also — hopefully — gain something else that has eluded me for so many years: peace.

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