Can’t Take That Away From Me

When I was a teenager, going through my first breakup (oh, the angst), I was absolutely addicted to Mariah Carey’s “Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Back then, when I was seventeen, the worst thing that could happen to me was a breakup.  I can’t get angry with my young, innocent self, because when you are a teenager and so blessed, you of course don’t know any different.

My 20’s were a violent, difficult, turbulent decade.  I have no idea what is in store for the remaining years of my life, or even for the last nine months of my 29th year, but I imagine that I will not be too sorry to shut the door on my 20’s on September 12th, 2013.  Or to embrace my 30’s.  When I was 21, a car accident nearly ended my life…and that set the tone for my 20’s.  There have been some soaring highs, and some crushing lows, but there has been turbulence through it all.

This year…this year has been difficult.  2012 was a year of unhappiness.  There were some bright spots, of course, but most of the year was difficult, and dark.  There are some happy pieces of it that will remain etched in my memory forever:

– Watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico from the decks of the Carnival Imagination, hot chocolate in hand.
– The feeling of dumb, blind joy when the Patriots made it into the Super Bowl (they didn’t deserve to go, I fully cop to that).
– Going back to graduate school in January.
– Spinning fire poi for the first time at May Wildfire.
– Having my thesis idea approved and getting my adviser assigned.
– My first-ever straight-A, 4.0 semester.

And there’s where it is.  In the last few days (after I emerged from the worst cold on record in the history of ever), every time I think about that 4.0, I get a little misty.  Because, for the rest of my life, no matter what happens, nobody can take that away from me.  Not ever.  I did that.  Me, on my own.  Nobody helping me, nobody assisting.  Just me.  Despite the hardships, despite the emotional pain of losing my husband in extraordinary fashion…I did that.  It wasn’t even so much getting the 4.0…that was big enough.  But doing it in spite of everything else that was going on in my life, that was the biggest accomplishment.

Early in my 20’s, I attempted graduate school.  In spite of some MAJOR red flags, I enrolled in graduate school a mere four months after my car accident, while still suffering physical debilitation and accident-related post-traumatic stress disorder.  You should have seen my grades, guys.   People this year have given me a lot of shit for “being too hard on myself” and being surprised that I have managed to pull off nothing lower than an A- since returning to school, but you should have seen my report cards from 2006 – 2008.  My finest semester was a string of B+’s.  I don’t think I ever even saw an A.  And a 4.0?  Not even on the radar.

There is no way I could have gotten through this year without medication (been on the same thing for two years and it still works like a charm), therapy (my therapist, Crazy Bruce, is pretty much my favorite human being ever), and the love and support of my friends, who have stood by me through thick and thin, fielded some pretty epically terrible 11 PM crying phone calls, and encouraged me the entire way.  True, this will be the last full year in which I was married (at least, this marriage) but I didn’t just survive it, I succeeded in school when years ago I would have broken if faced with this same situation.

No matter what happens for the rest of my life, I did this, and nobody can take it away from me, ever.

Let’s move into 2013 with hope, love, laughter, and light.

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