Happy for a Happy New Year

While I love holidays, when it comes to New Year’s I have traditionally had a hard time whipping much enthusiasm. I do not drink, or go out and party, and I can take or leave football bowl games. So, I bake a ham, and make some festive cupcakes for the kids and am usually in bed before midnight. However, this year things feel differently. This year, I am so excited for the New Year and all that it brings.

Most people would be hard pressed to have had the experiences that I have had in the last two years. On New Year’s Eve two years ago, I had newly left my not-such-a-good-guy husband and was still working at coming to terms to what he’s really done to my then 5-year-old son and me. The healing had yet to begin. At the same time, my sister’s husband had just been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and things were not looking good. He was gone by early February.

Last New Year’s Eve found me having moved from Maine to Montana and missing my six older children terribly. I was also embroiled in a nasty and bitter divorce and custody battle instigated by my husband and his family, and I was facing a nine month prison sentence to pay for sins of the long past. I had yet to tell my little boy, and his reaction, and knowing that I’d be away from him for so long was eating me alive. Remarkably, I somehow managed to stay positive and have a smile on my face almost each and every day during that time.

This was indeed a tough year. I moved back to Maine from Montana in early March to go to prison, but I went in knowing that my son was in the best possible place, with his 21 year old sister, Rachael. I knew he would be safe and that had been my biggest concern. My nine months in prison ended after only six months, thanks to good time, and a wonderful probation officer who fought to get me out sooner, amazed as everyone was that I’d had to go to prison at all.

Prison, as much as I had feared it, turned out to be among the biggest blessings I have received in my life. I learned very quickly that even on my worst day in this life, that I’d had more advantages and privileges than some of the women I met would ever see. I found that while I was viewed as the “odd duck,” the one that didn’t belong there, that I did have a place among these women, as a friend, confidant, and an encourager. Something that few of them had ever had in their lives. I also found a calling to work mentoring women who are incarcerated, and to help them transition back into the community in a healthy way.

Once out of prison, I was given so much help and support from family and friends at restarting my life that my re-entry was almost seamless, and three months later, my son and I live in a lovely cottage, I am employed, and we are so well loved. He did great because of the teamwork of his siblings, my first husband and his wife, and all of the extra people that loved on him. And yet, the divorce and custody thing loomed over me, getting uglier by the minute, to the point of being obscene. A day long trial seemed inevitable, and at the same time, an ultrasound for belly discomfort found a huge, suspicious, cyst on my kidney.

I began last week terrified and ended it ecstatic. My MRI results showed the kidney cyst to be almost certainly benign. The next day I walked into the courthouse, with the help of my loyal attorney, loins girded and ready for a day long battle. My husband suddenly wanted to negotiate and by 11 a.m. I was a divorced woman! I have never felt so blessed and grateful in my life.

So, I will start 2012 with all of the unpleasantness of the last two years far behind me. I truly feel like I have a new life–new and greatly improved. I thank God for each and every tough experience during the last two years, because, as a result, I have grown beyond measure as a person. I could not have made it through without so many wonderful friends and my family who were there at every turn, and remain right there, too. I cannot ask for anything more, because I already have it all. Happy New Year!

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