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You Will Always Have Yourself

Text by: Jessica Ceason

I didn't want to have a bad week, but I had one. I woke up on Monday having slept solidly through what I felt was an adequate amount of hours. I relished that, in ten minutes, in front of me would be the perfect cup of percolated coffee adorned with the perfect amount of milk I found myself in the mood to trouble frothing. I have never enjoyed coffee in the morning so much as I have in the last year. I stood at my kitchen counter, listened to the cat meow, and thought about what to consume for breakfast while I paged lightly through overnight email. There was a message from a recently estranged friend I found myself reading over continually, dissecting every letter of the only ten-word sentence in her note to me and wondering if our friendship was indeed salvageable. Twenty-minutes post email cross-examination, I decided to just… let it go. Just let it go. I bathed, put on a dress, and spent the morning taking photos of a gorgeous woman on a gorgeous European morning.

The sun was up for the first time in months. I reflected on where I was months ago when I last laid eyes on a brightly lit sky. I spent the better part of the previous year in a state of mass confusion over the events that had recently happened to me and my seemingly fading will to live. I faced an act of betrayal so great that it put my marriage on my hypothetical list of "things to rebuild in 2011," just below the words, "relationship with Dad." I was left with the wreckage of a once dignified woman and no instruction manual on how to reassemble. I was three days into the practical experience of my master's degree, and I was determined to succeed, even if it meant reassembling those pieces into an entirely different human being, which is exactly what happened.

I clung like a tiny, hungry child to the apron strings of those closest to me who offered glimpses of hope. I sunk into their open arms and didn't pull away, even after standing on my own two feet was safe. I was comfortable, relaxed amidst the chaos and fully enjoyed the benefits of friendships so close that I found myself sobbing at the thought of the inevitable, career-related relocations we would all experience.

I let go of fear, discomfort, pain, and anguish and let my lack of self worth float rapidly down the river of glacier I had willingly jumped into that summer. Conversations now turned from, "Why did you do this to me?" to "Never again will you or anyone…" I completed my degree, built a business, reached financial goals, grew my hair, and wore more dresses.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

The scars are deep, though. Just as I stood on the bridge, trembling, looking down at the water I would soon jump into, I still trembled when I merely thought of the word, "confidence." So I clung tightly to my friends who had, by then, become like family. Only, family is permanent no matter the size of the wedges that drive space between.

Losing relationships can feel like the end of a dance, when the glitter is being swept off of the floor, the balloons are being taken down, the lights turned off, and the door abruptly shut and locked. You're standing there, still in your dress, and all you hear is your own breathing and the soft shuffle of your own two feet, as you begin to cross a floor where a lot of feet once walked and danced together. Friendships can be lost as quickly as they can be found. I'm currently pacing a once glittered floor, hoping to find remnants of sparkle in the cracks of my shoes.

It's a lesson I learned earlier last year, pushed away at first, but am currently relearning. The pieces I reassembled fell apart, because the glue wasn't strong enough. I let others reassemble the pieces instead of repairing myself. They were my pieces, after all. I should have been foreman in my renovation. I relied on others — I didn't rely on my self. Somewhere in between flying to Ireland to run my first half marathon and off-trail skiing in the Alps, I lost myself despite my ambitious goal of regaining myself. I turned 30 this year, too. I like to think that with such a round and well-established number comes a fancily wrapped gift of an instruction manual for proper adulthood growth. When I was 26, I made a friend who had, that year, turned 30. She shared with me her self-assured thoughts about unnecessary facial cosmetic procedures, the proverbial gray hair, and the simple enjoyment she felt when she spent time alone. She was friends with herself. She liked herself. Absolutely no one could take her own friendship away from her. Year after year, she continued to grow into someone new. Someone better. I didn't get it. I get it now.

There are more uncertainties than certainties. The sun will come up, that's a certainty. We're uncertain, however, about when it will stop coming up. Every second or so, you take a breath. When you'll stop taking breaths is uncertain. We expect certainty when we prepare to take steps and make decisions, but the inevitable uncertainty sometimes lets us down. We enter relationships with others and open our hearts to the uncertain. Why not open our hearts to ourselves? A relationship with yourself is certain.

The week turned out badly, because I let it. I allowed uncertainty to take precedence over the one thing I know I will always have — my self. I will mourn lost friendships, lost relationships, and the allegedly dignified woman I once was. I will not, however, mourn myself. I am still here, and will always have the wisdom of knowing I am my own best friend and that I am continually growing into someone new.