I’m not a joiner and other lies I tell myself

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My new life here in the desert has been a revelation. The ease with which I’ve settled into this beautiful place, and into my bright, light-filled new home, has been rather astonishing.

It’s a change of scenery that has helped me to see, for the first time, how limiting so many of my long-held beliefs, about life and about myself, have been.

I’m not a joiner. I’ve said so myself, many times, and smugly. I’m not particularly social. Not creative. Not a morning person. Not daring. Not disciplined. Not happy. Not worthy. Not. Not. Not.

But here I am taking delight in all that is new. New vistas, new interests, a new sense of comfort in my own skin and, surprise, surprise, a new circle of friends. Most importantly, though, I’m able, and willing, to look at myself, and the world around me, with new eyes.

I still enjoy, even luxuriate, in my own company, but now my solitary evening walks are balanced by early-morning hikes with friends. And after decades of being consumed by high-stakes, angst-inducing musical aspirations, I’m engaged in a mellow, but extremely fulfilling, love affair with my camera.

I feel at once happy and relieved and a little regretful. Could it have always been this easy?

I remember the precious days and nights I squandered in the dark, oppressive apartment I called home not too very long ago. I can recall the heaviness I felt there, the despair that posed a very real threat to my well-being and, in my darkest moments, my life.

I think back and remember not leaving the house, or even showering, for days at a time. It’s embarrassing to admit now how low I really was but, mostly, it makes me sad to know that I allowed myself to feel so badly for so long.

That’s not to say the loss and the longing aren’t still with me. But I think it’s safe to say the worst is over. The grief has evolved into a mere undercurrent of sadness and the despair has finally given way to hope.

Sometimes the memories bubble up to the surface and overwhelm me, the brief flashes of pain more acute for the very fact that they are unexpected. But I’ll take a quick, sharp jab any day over the incessant ache I was living with before.

Even as I navigate my days with a lighter step, I no longer think of my broken heart as either an ailment to be cured or as an injury to be healed. I see it instead as a chronic condition that can be managed, a pain I may never fully recover from but that I can learn to live with and live well.

Because the heart is a muscle, it can’t be broken and then somehow mended. Instead, it must be stretched and broken down, and then stretched again, in order to grow supple and strong.

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