My birthday was this week. Birthdays and anniversaries are good times to reflect on one’s life, so I’ve been thinking about the last year of my life, about the challenges and successes.

The greatest challenges for me in the last 12 months have all been relational. Since this time last year I have had a miscarriage, lost and/or ended three important friendships, survived my son being 4, and entered into the deepest of emotional depths with my husband.

The struggles with my husband have been and are intense. We raised and discarded the dreaded D word (divorce). Our lives are significantly better together than apart; we haven’t worked hard over the last 10 years to give up now. Our solution and process is uniquely our own: we are breaking up and staying together. We’re a both/and kind of family, not an either/or one. What new relationship can be born if we prune away what isn’t working? Can we let it bloom in its own way, in its own time? I am more than hopeful, I am confident that we can. I am exhausted, but grateful that he and I can not just think outside the box, but live outside it, too.

As for the friendships, I do not believe, nor desire, that they will be renewed. One of my worst recurring nightmares used to be me walking through my life and no one would talk to me. I was never able to find out what I’d done wrong (was it something I said? did I do something wrong that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to??). No one would tell me! They wouldn’t look at me, they would turn away; I was shunned. Losing my friendships has been a bit like that. A disagreement followed by absolute silence. The ladies in question could not apologize, not even to say, “I’m sorry things have ended this way, let’s work this out.” I’ve done my share of apologizing. I have realized this year that it costs me nothing to say I’m sorry when I fuck up, and fuck up I do.

In losing these friendships, painful as it’s been, I’ve also found an incredible degree of strength and freedom. My biggest fear was realized: I exposed myself and people – beautiful, amazing people – walked away. I did not die. In fact, their absence opened up space for new, amazing, beautiful people who not only can accept my quirks, but also share their own with me.

Midyear I posted about Kali’s heart surgery. I found my heart is bigger and bolder than I ever realized. I do not need the companionship of people who will not work things out with me when we disagree or hurt each other. I do not need to diminish myself for the comfort of others. I do not need to love people for both of us. I do not need to apologize for both of us. I may have known this intellectually before, but now I’ve learned it, I know it in my bones.

I feel stronger in who and what I am. I do not fit boxes all that well. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I am not a lesbian, nor am I straight. I am not a Christian, nor anything else ‘normal’ or remotely orthodox. I am an independent, queer, witch of the left hand path. I am a devotee of Kali. I am a scholar, editor, writer, singer, mother, lover and friend. I am fierce and silly, often in the same breath. I am an introvert, but I am not shy.

It feels good to stand more boldly in who I am. It feels good to know who my allies are, who I can trust, and who will is willing to go the distance with me. I am inspired to dig even more deeply into my practices, to live even more boldly in the year to come. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

(None of this is surprising when I look at the collage I made for my 2013. So far that divination is spot on, sigh.)

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