I'm not sure when I could last look back over a twelve month period and note clear changes. 2007 is one such year. I remember the beginning of 2007 like it was yesterday.
January 2007 marked the 1st anniversary of the death of my father-in-law. My second reconciliation effort in my marriage of 14 years was spiraling rapidly downward. We had moved in to my mother-in-law's house and most of the material possessions I'd accumulated in my 2 year separation were either left behind in our old house or set outside for heavy-trash. I was in my 3rd month at a new job at a church, but still on the temp agency payroll. I invited my friends to celebrate my 34th birthday by serving the homeless with me and then attending brunch. I thought if I did something great for someone else, it would make me feel better about my life. Yet, I was miserable. Miserable! Not only was I miserable, but I lived in a constant state of fear and agitation. I was nervous that everyday would be the day that the collective frustration that my husband and I heaped on each other would come to a head. I, passive by nature, and he, aggressive by nature, would hit the proverbial brick wall. I did not eat well. I did not sleep well. I cried more than any adult woman should. I felt guilty for angering him to the point where he would want to inflict bodily harm on me. I looked at my own reflection and saw a stranger.
On Superbowl Sunday, I had enough. I attended the regular service at the local Mosque to hear Dr. Alim Muhammad speak. He'd spoken the night before, but I had been forbidden from attending. I left Sunday without waking him. I went to the Mosque. It has always been a place where I felt safe. Although I have not practiced Islam for nearly 10 years, I knew I would be welcome and loved in that space. My husband called me continually and I did not answer his calls until the end of the service when I had already decided that would be the day I was leaving. I called my father and asked him to come with me to collect my and my children's belongings. My 3 daughters and I moved in with my parents that day.
Man! It feels like yesterday. And yet, it was almost a year ago. And so many things have changed since that day.
I accepted a full-time, permanent position with the church. That fueled my spirit in ways I could never have imagined. I was surrounded daily by people who not only believe in God, but practice their beliefs in their service of others. I did not join the church, but I participated in many of their activities on my off time. Not only did it help me get to know the practices and parishioners of the church, but it helped to heal my soul. It made me want to seek out a place to practice organized religion.
I filed for divorce on July 11th. I remember the date because it happens to be my parents' wedding anniversary. The divorce was final on September 28th; one week after my oldest daughter's 14th birthday.
I have joined a church and enjoy being there. I even sing on the choir. Folks who know me, find that strange. But I love to sing, even if my voice isn't that wonderful. I harmonize well, so it works for a choir voice.
Prior to filing for divorce, I met, dated and fell in love with a truly special man. My timing was all wrong for him because he was in a place in his life where he wanted to settle down and get married. His timing was perfect for me, though. After the relationship with my husband, I could have been bitter and turned off to love completely. But this man showed me so much of what I wanted in a man and in a relationship. Being with him taught me that I could find happiness and, more than that, that I deserved it. He ended the relationship and it hurt my feelings, my ego, and my heart. But what I learned was that I could heal. I wouldn't trade those days for anything.
I'm also much more guarded with my heart these days. I'm making myself available to experiences as they present themselves. My criteria is tightening as I narrow down what I am looking for. Having found nearly all the qualities I was looking for, I know that men like that exist. I know I don't have to settle. I know to be specific in my prayer. I know to work on me. Because the closer I am to what God plans for me, the more likely I am to attract the man that God has planned for me. We get what we give.
In 2007, I finished a book of poetry, contributed my voice and my poem to a play, and started writing my second novel. I have recognized one of my life purposes as being an advocate for women and children.
I recently changed my last name legally to reflect my power to define myself.
Tomorrow is the last day in this calendar year. I am glad to see it leave. So many low places in my life occurred this year, but they were matched almost tit for tat by some of the highest places in my life.
2008 is already a better year than 2007 and it hasn't started yet. I feel great things about to happen and some monumental changes. I know that if I am quiet and listen to the God voice, that I will not go wrong.
In 2008, I hope to complete my second novel, move into a house, get my Spiritual house in order, bring my daughters to church more often, pay more tithes and save more money.
I know I can do these things because "the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want."