Ten years ago I was twenty-nine, pregnant, unemployed, alone, and really unsure of where I was going or what I was going to do. I had been on top of my game for several years, switching directions frequently but always by choice. Ten years ago several changes had happened not of my choice, and they all flung me into the chaos. It was a disorienting, terrifying, and, at many times, humiliating life. Everything I thought was secure and guaranteed had come crashing down and I was left standing there trying to sort through the pieces to find a way to put my life back together as quickly as I could before this tiny human showed up and tossed it all in the air again.

To make the very complicated and tragic story short and overly simple, I had been laid off from a very good job and my partner of several years had suddenly decided he did not want to be my partner any longer or have any part in my life or the life of our planned and wanted baby that was on her way. So, here I was with no income, no support, and I was lucky enough to have it all happen right at the peak of a nationwide economic disaster. All I could see in front of me was struggle and uncertainty.

Because this all happened in Washington state, I was fortunate to have access to the state worker retraining program and I took full advantage of it, enrolling at Green River Community College to take the prerequisite courses for their LPN program. I really only did it as a stopgap until I could figure out how to get back on my feet, find a job, raise a child, pay my bills, feed myself… It wasn’t a long-term plan and I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. All I could see was darkness.

Fast-forward to today.

I’m a registered nurse with my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I have two healthy, intelligent, and independent daughters who blow my mind daily with their hearts and brains. I own my own home. I made it to the other side of the tunnel.

It wasn’t just a straight shot, though. There were some very difficult days. In order to make it to this side, I had to move clear across the country. I had to give up everything. I went further into debt. Much further. I had to humble myself and ask for help and be willing to accept it, and the judgment that came with it. I had to learn to let things go even when I wanted to stand up and fight. I also had to learn to fight.

I don’t know where I’ll be ten years from now, but I hope that it won’t require as much bending and sometimes breaking as the last ten years did. I hope I carry with me the knowledge that I made it through what were some of the hardest experiences a person can go through and I came out a little bruised and scarred but stronger than I could have ever anticipated. Strength wasn’t the only thing I gained, though. My heart and mind have opened to a better understanding of the world and people around me, a greater capacity to empathize and reach for understanding, and a willingness to trust myself and believe that I will be okay no matter what because I’m capable, patient, and resilient.

Here’s to thirty-nine and whatever the next ten years bring.

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