Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In a Year

I started this blog a year ago. A lot has happened in that time. Lots of it I've written about in past entries. Lots happened off here, too. Most of the time I am an open book to those who know me, and my blog has been a way to open up even more. It's good practice as I prepare for the scrutiny of publication. Speaking of publishing, I'll start there.

I shared about my agent in a post last November. I am still represented by Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary. Under her guidance I have turned in what feels like forty million revisions, along with buckets of sweat and tears. I just turned in the strongest version of my novel that I have ever written. When I hit send, I felt as though I had completed a marathon. Even if it goes nowhere, I am proud of the writing and I still love the story I created. It is the one I want to tell, with characters I still love. It was therapeutic in many ways.

I started writing the novel five months after Warren died. It involves mixed martial arts. At the time, I had never seen a match, and didn't know anything about the sport. Many people asked me why I chose to write about violence. I thought it just came to me. Over time, I realized that it wasn't random. It was a way to digest my pain. I was feeling pain I had no words to describe. It was intense and I couldn't escape it, cure it, or understand its depths. But, I knew how to control physical pain. I knew broken bones and bruises could be mended. Bleeding can't last forever so I wrote about pain I could discern. That is why no matter what happens with publication, this story will forever be part of the saving grace that was born at the darkest point in my life. 

Today, Adriana is presenting my story to a select group of editors. They will love it, hate it or anything in between. I am thankful that the holidays are here and I will be distracted from the waiting game that is the submission process. I am also grateful that I have Adriana to go through this process with me because I know she believes in my story as much as I do. My family, friends and writing tribe have been supportive every step of the way: providing child care when I needed quiet time to write; encouraging me to keep going; offering advice along the way; calming my fears and easing my doubts. They are a huge part of why this novel was able to be written, and rewritten, and revised and revised some more. Without them, I can't imagine where it would be.

Without the people in my life there is a lot that would be different today. I wouldn't have been able to travel to New York, Denver or Korea. Each trip helped me grow as a person and a writer. They offered me a feeling of accomplishment when I thought the days of travel and world exploration were behind me. It is a love that has been reinvigorated in me, and I look forward to more trips. 

Speaking of love, I have found someone who has renewed by belief in genuine love. There was a time when I didn't think it was possible to find it twice in one lifetime, although I very much wanted to be wrong. When I witnessed the remarriage of a widower and friend, it opened my eyes to the possibility of love in my life. I am learning to love again in a way that is different than it has ever been, with a man who is kind, understanding and honors my past.

Every day we're together I learn something about my new self, and the way I love him doesn't change the quality or quantity of love I have for Warren and what we had. This new love is something entirely unique to Nate and I. It is not a replacement, or a place holder. What we share is a new beginning for both of us. It is a chance for me to apply the lessons about love that I learned from loving Warren, and being loved by him. Nate makes me laugh more than I thought I ever would. He tells me I'm beautiful with a sincerity I trust. He offers me a hand even when he knows I can do it myself. His companionship and acceptance of me as I am is a gift I didn't expect. 

It hasn't come without its critics. I have been told, "It's weird seeing you with someone else," and "He's just not Warren." Nate is not Warren. No one will ever be him. I knew better than to look for that.  Warren set a high standard when it came to being someone's partner, and I won't settle for someone who doesn't make me feel as valued as I did when I was with him. Feeling that again is an amazing discovery. Many close to me have seen the joy Nate brings and are happy for me. They support this new turn my life has taken, and I am moved by their acceptance.

I take it a day at a time, because there's no way to tell when you're ready for love. It found me and I'm taking a risk pursuing it. Nate makes me happy in ways that once seemed impossible. Whatever happens in a month, or a year from now will be valuable in shaping my new identity and helping me understand a new perspective on  the mysteries of love. It has already changed me and taught me a lot about my capacity to trust, love and hope again.

Loving Nate hasn't dulled my love for Warren, although it has made me see it in a new light. I still think about the "what if's" and feel cheated out of them. The third year anniversary of his death was one of the toughest yet. I felt an anger so deep that at times I thought it was cutting off my oxygen supply. The shock and sadness were secondary to feeling that I had been robbed of so many "could have beens" and "should have beens". Having another man in my life doesn't change those feelings. It is a pain and injustice I will carry forever, but I keep taking steps to help me cope so that it doesn't eat me from the inside.

My fitness journey has been a huge part of weathering those negative feelings. I continue to work out four to six days a week. I love pushing my muscles and seeing them form. I feel sexiest when I'm red and sweaty, huffing and puffing during a run, hitting bags, or doing reps with a weight that is heavier than I could handle a month ago. When I feel physically strong it makes me feel powerful inside, like I can handle anything, including the feelings of grief that often gnaw at my soul and remind me of all that was lost that horrible day in February. My workout time is sacred because it has given me more than a toned physique. It has given me an outlook on life that is all natural and healing in multiple ways.

It has been a year of challenges, triumphs, laughs, tears, changes and unexpected surprises. Through it all I have been lucky to have love, support and feel enlivened through the people who have been part of my life, and those of you who read about it via this blog. I am excited for what next year will bring, and will keep writing about it as it unfolds. 

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