Catching my breath

It is incredible how quickly life can change.

Certainly it must have been a few minutes ago that I was in an unhappy marriage, a job well below my qualifications, and living in a region comprised of two parts rain, one part grey sky.

That was three years ago. I was living in Seattle and working as a teller at a bank.  My bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Washington lent to me multiple internships in television, part time writing gigs, and a stint at the local newspaper in data analytics.  None proved for gainful employment, and I was grateful for the opportunity provided by a friend to have steady work at the, then, Washington Mutual.

Consistently friends would tell me to be content. “Joni, you are too much of a dreamer,” was a persistent criticism.  My mother would echo the words of my late Grandfather, “Bloom where you are.”  I agree!  Bloom where you are. But if the proverbial flower is suffocating, how can it find the nourishment to bloom?

Not everyone is affected by weather, but my God I am.  I couldn’t bear one more Seattle winter – the skies really and truly are gray 75% of the year.  With the weight of the dark skies tracing my every step, I would return home from work to my devoted but emotionally distant husband, whom I wished above anything I could love equally in return.

Four years my senior, this gentleman was my spouse of two and a half years, all of which were wrought with struggle.  Our first date to our wedding day was a span of 13 months, a tangible example of our haste.  We attended a church that facilitated quick nuptials, after which I was scolded for my unhappiness.  Marriage, they said, was about “holiness, not happiness.”

I should say that they were right, as my happiness was non-existent, and I felt selfish for yearning for joy.  The reasons for this deep sadness are complicated and I’m not in the business of public finger pointing.  But I take the blame for seeking security and safety in marriage at the early age of 22.  The absence of my family in those years provided a ready platform for religious allegiance, and I took the “easy” way out I suppose, marrying a man I knew would be faithful to me and perhaps take the place of a present family.  I have regrets, and I’m sorry.

But joy was not present and sorrow continued to grow. So I did what the women in my family always did when faced with depression and hopelessness. I dove into books, and pledged to myself that scholarship would be the key to freedom.

I checked out every book on the GRE in the local library system, as I could not afford the $1,000+ prep course for the arduous prerequisite test to graduate study.  I got up at unholy hours every drippy northwest morning, and practiced ridiculous vocabulary words and tedious math drills. My boss at the time didn’t mind that between customers I was studying, and every waking hour I strove to achieve the high score I needed to get in, as my undergraduate GPA was, well, terrible.

Then I did it!! I got the score I wanted, applied to the schools I dreamed of, and by some chance of fate and grace, I got in!!!  And not only that, but the school I wanted the most, San Diego State University.  Number three Communication Master’s program in North America, might I not-so-humbly add.

Three years, five semesters, one trip to Europe and a divorce later, here I am.  Freshly graduated and living with two amazing women in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego, I have the freedom I dreamed of a short three years ago.  As I look outside at the blue sky, I am comforted by my small black chihuahua Bella nuzzling closer against my hip as I write this introductory blog entry.  A year after my divorce, I have a new companion whose passion for life I find motivating and at times exhausting.  I don’t know what the future will bring, and in that I find happiness.

Admittedly, I have made many decisions, some excellent, some disastrous.  But to those who have been there through it all, thank you.  To those who haven’t, I hope someday you’ll come around, even if I will never see it.  But life can’t be lead with regret.  To paraphrase the philosopher Kenneth Burke, failures should be filed under the column of experience, and therefore called exactly that: experience.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your failures, or rather, experiences. As I sit to catch my breath after the madness that was the last three years, two weeks after I received my Master’s degree in Communication, I look forward to a new chapter of experiences, may they be of the failing or succeeding variety.


About jonierdmann
Ask thoughtful questions. Challenge tradition. Refuse to accept things are the way they are.

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