Finding emotional renewal feels like an exercise focused purely on negative feelings. A never ending series of mea culpas. Suffering through pain and tears alone. A tendency to take too much responsibility. Not really absolving others of their various trespasses as much as honestly (sometimes brutally) owning the part I played. That leaves plenty of room for regrets and recrimination but very little for charity or closure. Little room to move on in love and light.

I know release lies purely in my own hands now. There will never be a reckoning with the truth. Not really. Just an uneasy status quo that is far from positive much less perfect. The frustration I feel is fully defined by the unjustness of it all. I had a reasonable expectation for a more logical conclusion, but the reality of my situation remains in direct contrast to reason. My final challenge is one of acceptance, but I’m confident that destination lies around the corner. The only grace I need now is the grace I already find in the eyes of my son. He knows and loves who I am.

I am excited to see our relationship developing new levels and layers. Everyday he gets more curious and intuitive. My boy is creative, empathic and funny. Wicked smart. A personality all his own, but one definitely influenced by the time we’ve spent together. Despite the toll being a stay-at-home dad took on my marriage, that year and a half holds my most cherished memories. The four years since then are no less cherished but are certainly less intense, notwithstanding the last several months of personal growth and animosity with his mom. O and I have never been tighter or better prepared for the future.

My other relationships continue to deepen as well, with family and friends alike. That, too, is a blessing I hadn’t considered when I started down this road. It’s amazing how much more loving my relationships became when I lowered my defenses. I’m much more open to constructive feedback now. That’s not to say I’m perfect in that regard. Far from it. However, I’m quicker to recognize when I respond emotionally, and try correct the logical imbalance immediately rather than deflecting. A small but important distinction. Perfection was never the measure.

My gratitude extends to my “professional” relationships as well. I put that in quotes because work done right includes true friendships. Respect and empathy and genuine appreciation for the person behind the position. My membership at the VFW is also a hybrid of professional and personal touchstones. I’m triply blessed in that my day job embraces veteran causes as part of their core value of stewardship and will likely be quite open to many of my ideas to align those two worlds of volunteerism. I’m looking forward to movement on both fronts in the near future.

I couldn’t be more excited for my fiftieth year on Earth despite a couple of important items not working out the way I hoped. Upon further reflection, though, everything turned out exactly as I needed. Not that I knew this reality is what I needed at the time. Life is funny that way. Make intricate plans and God laughs. She loves a good joke. I’m her Huckleberry.