Today it finally happened.

Since I came back from Egypt in early November, I've felt like my heart has been enduring a long winter. Where I used to feel vital, infinite, limitless, I felt only doubt, worry, and the slow withering drain of depression. It should have been the happiest time in my life- I had just gotten engaged to the love of my life and we were beginning our lives together in the town where it all began. But I was lonely, bitter, and painfully insecure. I've spent the past several months wrapped inside this cloak of insecurities and fear- of what, I'm not sure. Fear of the assault that brought me home, and all of its repercussions. Fear of losing the most precious thing I have in my life, my darling sweet fiance. Fear of coming back to the place that broke my heart- Tuscaloosa, with all its hierarchy, antiquated ideologies and deep-seated hate. Fear of losing the beautiful person that I felt I had become in Egypt. Ironically, all of this fear and anxiety robbed me of just that. The carefree, open spirit I posessed in Cairo became little more than a memory to me, a shadow of a girl who had now become tethered down by responsibilities and realities far beyond her maturity level or emotional threshhold. I worried every day that Sam would realize I was no longer the girl he had asked to marry him and leave me, disillusioned with the sad, solitary person I had become.

But today, it happened.

A week ago today I quit smoking and started running. I started eating healthier and cut sodas and energy drinks almost completely out of my diet. I felt like I was opening a door to let a little light into my dreary world. And then today, as I was driving in the afternoon sunlight by the flowering Tuscaloosa wisteria, I felt a slow bloom in my soul. I felt a surge of pride as I took the University of Alabama exit on the interstate- a surprising feeling. I glanced in the rearview mirror of my new BMW and saw the simple American University in Cairo decal, and instead of feeling a desperate longing, I felt a slow, glowing nostalgia. Shafts of sunlight danced through the car as I pulled up to Academy Sports and treated myself to a new running outfit. I walked out of the store and into the light and I felt like I was walking into a bright new place. My heart was blossoming, opening itself again to the beauty of life and the world and yes, even Tuscaloosa. For the first time in months, I felt full and innocent and integral- like I was worth of the love Sam showers on me, like I deserved to be happy and healthy, like everything was going to be alright again. This long-absent sensation literally feels like someone injected pure light into my veins. I feel like I have things to look forward to and strive for again. I feel confident that Sam and I are going to have a long, happy life together. I feel healthier than I have in two years. I'm starting to feel comfortable in my own skin after spending much of the past year hiding behind extra pounds in a desperate attempt to be invisible and unoffensive. I feel like nothing's missing. And I feel like life is starting over for me- in a new, exciting way. I think I've finally learned that I can be as excited and passionate about life as I was when I was constantly gallivanting around the globe, simply by finding adventure in the simplicity of life in this funny little town.

I'm so excited to start over.

I'm so excited that the longest winter is finally over. The snows are melting, and the world is springing back to life. And I'm ready.

3 "bhebek"s:

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about you a lot lately- because of what has been going on in egypt. Sadly, you had stopped writing, so I never knew your thoughts on this... But the way I saw it- the terrible assault you had to experience was a sign from somewhere else- sent to get you out of harm's way... And then today, after the egyptian people have voted for changes, you woke up again... Perhaps your winter was their pain reflected through you. I wish you all the best! (and hope you will keep writing, for I really enjoy reading it!)

Danielle said...

thank you so much for this comment! it meant a lot to me; it's nice to know that there are people who enjoy reading my writing. hopefully now that i'm in a better state of mind, i will be writing more. thanks for sticking with me!

Anonymous said...

you are such an awesome writer and so glad we have been able to follow you with your journey. Thanks for sharing.