Coming Home {Why 2011 was one of the best and worst years of my life}

A few days from now, R.T. and I will be bound for Michigan with a moving truck, all of our creatures, and our friend Ian in tow. I am so ready.

We’ll be settled in our house in time to ring in 2012. I feel immeasurable relief at the idea of beginning the new year with my love in our new home. We’ve both endured a year of struggle, loss, and transition. We’re looking forward to a new year and a new start. We’ve been listening to this song a lot:

(click here to view the video if you’re reading this via RSS)

But this year hasn’t been all bad, and it’s certainly come with it’s share of life lessons. The big, stick-with-you kind.

A year ago at this time, I was BROKE. Terrifyingly broke. Maybe-I-don’t-deserve-to-be-self-employed broke. Maybe-I-should-go-get-a-coding-job-to-pay-the-bills broke. But somewhere in that mess of self-pity and fear, I managed to summon enough optimism to tell a friend, “I know it’s going to get better. Next month I’ll probably make six thousand dollars and I’ll barely remember what this feels like.”

I got through the later part of 2010 on the thread of hope that I was going to OWN 2011. I convinced myself that it would be smooth sailing to make up for the hellacious crapfest that was 2010.

But that’s not what happened, of course. Well, that’s not true. It’s sort of what happened. But more than being a year of great experiences, it’s been a year of taking the good with the bad.

In mid-January, after several months of being overworked and undernourished, I woke up on a Thursday and couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t get out of bed and certainly couldn’t go sit at my desk and get shit done. Depression wasn’t new to me — I’m a happy person who happens to be chemically depressed — but this feeling was. I’m not the type of person to roll over and surrender to my suffering.

I called my therapist at home. I cried on the phone with a dear friend who later showed up with coffee and DVDs. I called my doctor. A week later I started anti-depressants and a week after that, I closed my books for January at $6,400.

That’s pretty much how the entire year went. Do the hard work, then reap the rewards. (Actually, that’s how all years go. Shhh.)

In March, after two years together (and almost a full year of on-and-off, trying-and-failing), Noah and I broke up for the last time. We’d been through so much together — we had so much history with and love for each other that it was really hard to see that end. But it was time and we both knew it.

A few weeks after that, I met R.T.

‘Met’ is the wrong word. We’d been acquaintances for a couple of years — he was even a client for a little while. But our friendship sparked in early April and I nearly instantly felt like he was my new best friend. Dating him came with it’s own set of struggles — far more than any new relationship should. He had a live-in girlfriend when we started dating, and I was totally new to the concept of polyamory/polyfidelity. Pardon me while I gloss over a lot of that mess – the short story is: the three of us gave it our best shot, but after a few months, he and I broke up, and then they did, and then she left, and later, he and I made our (monogamous) thing official. The glossing-over might give you the impression that this was all clean and easy. It wasn’t. We all got hurt. It really, really sucked.

But, again, things that suck open doors for things that suck less. (Boy, that sounds optimistic.) We’re incredibly good partners. We’re both stubborn and ambitious and terrified of being stagnant. We respect and admire one another but we won’t settle for less than the other’s very best. R.T. is exactly what I need in a life partner AND, happily, what I need in a business partner.

Our dreadful, difficult summer became autumn, as it does. We decided in late September that it was time for us to leave this place. I needed new adventure, R.T. needed to stop making excuses, and we both needed a clean slate. We thought about Portland, Oregon, but eventually settled on Detroit, Michigan.

We’ve been planning our move for two months now. We’ve rented a house, sold his car, started packing. In the meantime, we’ve been living in separate apartments but spending nearly all of our time together at one or the other place. We’re both exhausted.

Preparing to leave has been very hard. I moved to the east coast three weeks before my 18th birthday. I was raised in Michigan, but I grew up here. I’ve been saying goodbye to so many of the people who helped me become the person I am today. Dear friends, ex-boyfriends, my therapist. It’s time for this stretch of my journey to end, but oh how I will miss this home.

The past year has been a nice summary for my decade on the east coast. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve experienced here. The people I’ve loved and lost, the education I received, the business I started.

The number one thing I’ve learned (over and over again) is that the struggle is always worth it. There’s always something better around the bend.

I’m ending 2011 a far cry from the broke, scared place I was a year ago. I’m so grateful that I stuck it through the tough months. I’ve had the most amazing clients this year – Kelly Rae Roberts, Andrea Scher, and Diana Charabin (of Tiny Devotions) among them. My business has really come into its own. I’m honestly incredulous and so, so excited.

I’m telling you all of this because I know it’s a tough time of year for all of us. If it’s not the stress of the holidays, it’s the dreary, cold weather. And if it’s not the weather, it’s the symbolism of one year ending and a new beginning. It can be really hard to keep your chin up.

And you don’t have to. But you do have to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing. It gets easier.

Set your intentions. Eyes on the prize.

I wish you a happy, joyful 2012, and I can’t wait to tell you about my adventures in Detroit.


6 thoughts on “Coming Home {Why 2011 was one of the best and worst years of my life}”

  1. Wow. What a year Leah. Sounds like you might be ready for a year of pleasure! I know just the thing!
    Love and pleasure to you and your love for your move and the New Year.

  2. For all the sadness and craptastic hard times you’ve been through, there is so much joy for your life ahead in this post that it is incredibly uplifting. I wish you and your sweetie oodles of happiness in your new adventure.

  3. Leah! You really are the coolest. I love this post. So glad I got to meet you through Jess this year — best of luck to you and RT in Michigan. You guys deserve it! Happy New Year, ma’am. 🙂

  4. Leah ~

    You are FABULOUS. Just remember that. You will always make it. Best wishes for a great, new life.


  5. Leah, I clicked on your site button on Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog and I adore your style! You are very talented and I hope that it takes you far.

    I know you don’t know me, but I’m hoping that you have a blessed 2012. Seems like 2011 has been a year of pruning for a lot of us. That’s okay, because after pruning comes new growth and gorgeous blooms! 😉

    Take care,
    Anna K.

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