when you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in.

It's a strange thing sometimes, to look around and realize that I really am on the other side of all that pain. I'm really here. I made it, somehow. And I'm so thankful to be here.

To be clear, being "here" - on the other side of all the pain of last year - is not perfect. It's decidedly imperfect and there are a lot of side effects left over from being in such a shitty, damaging relationship for so long, and then culminating in a shitty, damaging untangling from that relationship. For one, I have a lot of insecurities. I often find myself slipping into the self-doubt territory - where I think about all the ways I've failed, why someone who was supposed to love me found it so easy to treat me like I meant nothing. I ponder those things for awhile before I catch myself and have to remind myself that everything that happened was not because of a flaw in me - it was because of character flaws in someone else. Sure, relationships go through ups and downs and sometimes people fall out of love. Those things aren't so unusual. But we all have choices as to how we handle ourselves in those situations, and unfortunately I was attached to someone who handled that situation about as poorly as I can imagine someone would. So even though it's not my flaw, it does make me question my judgment quite often. How could I have been so wrong about someone? How could I have handed my heart and my life and my trust to someone who could (and would) hurt me so deeply, and in so many ways?

I'm trying really hard to not let this last relationship be the measuring stick by which I compare all current and future relationships. To be honest, it wouldn't difficult to beat this aforementioned measuring stick - you could give me three compliments and a cupcake and you'd already be winning. But I'm scared. I don't really trust my own judgment. I feel insecure. I doubt myself constantly. So this leads to me subconsciously comparing my new relationship to my old one (READ: old, shitty, hurtful, not-worth-it ex-husband to new, fun, thoughtful, funny, sweet, amazing, incredible boyfriend). Oh you want to promise me things? So did someone else, once. Oh you think I'm beautiful? You'll change your mind. Oh you think I'm funny and smart and you like spending time with me? You'll decide otherwise one of these days.

I'm not the only one who thinks this way. People who love me have really been affected. One of the people who I think was most affected by my divorce was my brother. He's known K. since he was young - they grew up playing soccer together and I think he was pretty excited when we started dating. They always got along really well. That's another painful side effect of divorce - losing relationships with the other person's family. I know that I miss K's sisters a lot. It's painful to build that relationship with someone and to really, honestly love and care for them.... and then POOF that's gone and neither party had much warning. I saw K's Dad and Step-Mom three weeks before everything happened and I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see them. It still hurts. I think my brother has been feeling this way too.

A few days ago I texted him about coming home for his birthday next weekend and asked him if he was excited about meeting my new "boyyyyyfriend". This was his response:

Brother: No, not really.
Me: Um why not? That's rude. And it makes me sad.
Brother: Sorry. But I didn't want to lie. Your last boyfriend wasn't so great. And your new boyfriend is a guy. I don't really trust guys. They have poor motives.
Me: Do you want me to date a girl? Or be single forever?
Me: And just because K was an ass doesn't mean all guys are.
Brother: I know that, but in my experience most guys are... and no, I don't want you to be single forever. But that doesn't mean I'm excited to meet your boyfriend.

That wasn't the end of the discussion, but it coves the most important parts and rounds out my point nicely. I'm not the only one who has been burned and is more than a little weary. So I feel for this person who has chosen to date me, in spite of all my insecurities and doubts. What's even more unbelievable is that we discuss them and we talk about them and when I'm at my darkest and lowest points he reaches down to meet me and says amazing things like "You are an incredible person who is worthy of being loved. And I think you forgot that."

And then I melt into a little tiny puddle. Again, measuring stick SMASHED into teeny, tiny little pieces. I mean, it's just obliterated.

So again, it's strange being on the other side of all that pain that I got used to living in. But it also feels really amazing. So I'll keep fighting through the bullshit insecurities and just try to continue to be thankful for this NOW. For these feelings. For these experiences. Who knows what the future holds? I certainly don't. But I trust the One who does. More than I've ever trusted anyone ever before. Love wins.

"Once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.”  - Haruki Murakami