In late summer of 2019, after returning from gallivanting through Europe, I sat on the floor in my bedroom trying to keep my broken heart from falling out of my chest. I didn’t allow learning that my husband and best friend of 15 years, fathering another child, ruin the excitement of getting my first passport stamps. Though, soon as my now seasoned bags hit the luxury vinyl plank floors of our “Dream Home”, reality set in; my 1, 3 and 12 year old daughters would soon have another sibling, that did not come from my womb.
The relationship ended in the Spring of 2019. I was very cavalier about its end. Like a Mack truck, the gravity and reality of it all hit after that trip. A whole child was something different, entirely. It was something that we couldn’t rebound from. It was over, over!
Devastated is an understatement. I don’t know that there is a word in the English language to describe the pain I felt, but the day following my return, my baby was turning 2, and mom must “soldier on”, right? Party? We did all while dreaming of ways to release my soul from the suffering of this body, in the most peaceful way, with the least amount of impact on my girls.
Going from 2 incomes to 1 (a meager one, from a baby of a business), a mountain of debt, a 3k mortgage, 3 kids, and the only life I’d known from 20 to 35 y/o, there was no way I could survive. I had to leave. The suffering would end, it all would go away.
We sang happy birthday to my baby girl on August 17, and she blew out the candle on her cupcake with excitement, all while fighting her 3 year old sister away from trying to do the same. That moment sparked something in me – the sheer joy the 2 little ones experienced while blowing the flame from the wick made me think – what if I changed my perspective, and found joy, while still wrapped in grief, in the simplicity of experiencing the excitement of a…. Candle?
So, I tried it.
The first day; I felt silly.
The second; less, but still pretty awkward.
The third – through the 500th +; I have something to look forward to. Something to enjoy. Candles (to my girls) symbolizes celebration. I applied that same perspective of deriving joy from simply being here to light and extinguish each candle, each day, as just that, a celebration! Of life. Of survival. Of resilience and the regaining of mental health.
The creation of this ritual (coupled with therapy) is how I learned that my worth was not diminished, my life had simply changed.
Everyday, I light a candle.
Everyday, I celebrate life.
Everyday I will celebrate my light, until it is extinguished.
As a black girl, growing into my womanliness, it was implied, taught and forced down my throat (and the throats of many other black girls) that, I had and must activate some kind of super power, that enables me to endure senseless hurt differently than other women. “Strong Black Woman” was the nomenclature applied to it and I anxiously lived it (enduring lovelessness for at lease 10 of the 15 years, HELLO). In all honesty, I WOULD have stayed, if he wouldn’t have left (Thank you sir). Since emerging on the other side; experiencing true healing, self love and prioritizing MY OWN NEEDS, I experience the world completely differently. I experience it fully, as I am, without pretenses!
The lighting of a candle is symbolic to me in a lot of ways, it IS a part of my self care. We hear about and subscribe to ways that we should care for ourselves, when in reality, it will never look the same. What we are enduring is different. What we need is different. How we seek it out is different.
Reminder : Find your “candle” and light it!
© 2022 Bohemian Aesthetic Atelier
Wow- How powerful! Having seen you and now ex-husband ~4.5 years ago I would have never thought this was going to be your story. The symbolism of lighting a candle is so powerful yet so simple. I appreciate your perspective as I will have to find my “lighting of a candle” as I too walk through the journey of grief. Thank you for this. Your courage is not overlooked.