Shine On My Lips and A Clean Pair of Panties

Yes, you read that title correctly, and I have a friend out there reading it now that knows exactly what I’m referring to.

This weekend I wrote a personal narrative for school about a time that changed me. I chose a time in my life fifteen years ago when Sammy and I were separated. It was the hardest year I’ve ever gone through and I changed dramatically after. As the narrative went on, I wrote a description of who I was then and how it transformed me into the person I am now. The thing is, I didn’t talk about all the bad stuff in the middle. That’s where this title comes into play. “Shine on my lips and a Clean pair of panties”, became my mantra that year and I’ll tell you how it helped me through the longest year of my life.

If you can believe it or not, my kids say I’m too happy or sun-shiny, if that’s even a word. I tend to look on the bright side for the most part and it can be a little too much in my household. I also used to tell my girls every morning as they walked up to school “make your own sunshine!”. Yep, I was THAT mom! I still am THAT mom 🙂 But there was a time in my life when I wasn’t.

The year Sam and I separated, I could barely keep up. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was a single mom and I had to learn how to do everything by myself. I lost myself in the thought of being alone and though I tried my hardest to change the situation, nothing worked. I had as much control over my marriage as me telling the sun not to come up. It seemed the harder I tried, the harder it became. Not too long into my separation, I had to take medication for the depression I was in and I saw a therapist as well. I also used to try to find alternate routes to drive anywhere, because anything that reminded me of better times with Sammy would set me off. This actually happened A LOT! I didn’t eat and I didn’t sleep. I hated the world and I hated myself. I remember thinking he’d come home after a week, but that turned into another week, then a month, and so on.

During that same time, I had a friend who changed my life and she is still a very dear friend to this day. Cindy held my hand when I was alone and let me cry every single day at work. She hugged me and held me when the world was too much. She even told me to “STOP CRYING and see a therapist” and she even dialed his number. I needed her in my life and I owe her for sticking around and helping me!

When I look back at that year of my life, I remember the beginning and thank God for the end, but I can never forget the middle. I have so many memories from that year, both bad and good ones. One of the biggest memories I have, however, was the saying I coined that sounded a little funny when I said it but held much more meaning for me. You see, I’ve always been a big fan of lip gloss (or SHINE as I called it, even then), so when Cindy’d ask how I was doing that hour, I’d always give her the same answer: “I’ve got shine on my lips and a clean pair of panties!”, which meant I was doing alright. That became my mantra and it helped me through a lot of dark days because no matter how crappy life was, It could always be worse.

I could seriously write a book on that year of separation and how it changed both Sam and I. Our marriage became stronger because of that year apart. We would never have rescued all our animals we’ve adopted, all of whom ultimately changed all our lives. I learned more about myself in that one year alone than I had my entire life. I picked up hobbies (your welcome) and painting became my thing! I can truly not imagine where I’d be right now if I didn’t go through that tough time and I never thought I’d be at a place where I’d thank God for it, but I do. I’ve even been fortunate to help a few friends through their similar stories and I’m thankful that I could be someone’s “Cindy”.

So wherever you are in your life, if it happens to be living in that valley staring up at your mountain thinking there is just no possible way you can do it, I’m here to tell you that you can. Just take it minute by minute, then hour by hour, as I did, and give yourself credit for getting through those small feats. The hard part about the middle is you have setbacks, you cry, and you hurt, then you start all over again, but every minute that passes takes you one minute closer to where the pain ends and the best part of you begins… and that is worth celebrating.

What got me through my middle was my mantra because when you feel like you can’t control anything, you learn to control what you can. Which for me, was putting shine on my lips and having a clean pair of panties and sometimes that’s all it takes to remind yourself that you’re ok and you’ll be just fine.

Sending love and hope your way (and yes, a little bit of shine too)!
Rita

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