Today was my last first day of classes as an acupuncture student. Because my school is year round trimesters, this is the final one. Number 9. I cannot believe I am here. I cannot believe that I have made it through the program thus far and that I am in the home stretch.
I feel excitement, fear, and joy all at once. I could have never imagined this for myself 4 years ago. I thought my life would be TJ, a house, and sweet sweet babies... maybe a dog, too. This picture is so different from the one I had my heart set on for years and years. And my new life... this is a beautiful picture, too. I am so proud of myself for making this life mine in every way. I have fought hard to be where I am and I am so grateful for all of the people that have been with me along this journey.
When I first started school, I could barely say TJ's name without crying and when I told my story the rivers would flow. I didn't even feel like myself when I started school. It is a complete miracle that I was able to allow the deep reflection and feeling the edges of every emotion that would show me the way to this new path of becoming an acupuncturist. When I started this program I was TJ's widow. I wasn't Courtney. It took three years to shed that label I had been assigned and the label I had adopted as my own. To be Courtney... just Courtney. It's a feeling like I've never had before; to have TJ imprinted on my soul and know that I am strong enough and important enough to stand solidly in myself is something I had never expected to achieve. And I have achieved this. I have been living into this new self for nearly a year and it is an entirely new discovery. If I'm being honest with you, my beloved readers, I didn't know who I was even when TJ was alive. Before his death, TJ was about the only good thing going in my life. I was stuck, stagnant, and dependent on others for what I needed most. It was easier to stay in a job I hated, be stressed and over worked, eat random fast food meals because there wasn't time or energy to cook. It was easier to complain about what I didn't have and what others did have and why weren't we fortunate to have money and houses and babies. What I took pride in, and put all of my energy and love toward, was being TJ's wife. (Knowing what I know now- that I wouldn't have much time with TJ- I do not regret the choice I made to devote myself to him so fully. I am grateful that I could give him all of myself, all of my whole heart and soul so he could feel unconditional love while he was here with me) And I also know that that is no way to live; placing so much importance outside of ones self and then expecting and waiting for others to fill your cup.
I believe that TJ's lasting gift to me was the opportunity to discover myself and a new way of being. I believe that his soul knew that we would not have our entire lives together into old age and so he used his time with me to nurture me, love me, and encourage me to be better so that when he did have to leave I would know what to do. Little did I know that I would take that love and encouragement and double it, triple it, quaduple it into who I am now. I know that I have arrived at this point in my life by my own sheer will and determination to be fully alive and awake to myself and the world around me.
I am beautiful, intelligent, kind, compassionate, skilled, and spilling over with love. And I'm a damn good acupuncturist. I have found my path and I am walking it with my head high and my arms outstretched for more. I know that TJ is proud of me. And ya know what? That thought doesn't hold as much weight as I thought it would when I started this journey. What actually matters the most is that I am proud of myself. TJ may have planted the seeds, but I tended the soil. And I am beginning to harvest the rewards of my labor of self-love. I am ending a huge, transformational chapter of my life and I await the next chapter with excitement and confidence.