How do I learn a new and difficult skill at a time when my life is figuratively sliding off a cliff into a sea of trouble? This is the question that has been hanging over my head for the past 11 months.

When my marriage ended the break was not clean. It was long and messy and painful. The decision to leave came first. Then came the nerve to say it out loud. Then came the storm, the broken damn, the overflow of anger, the fear, the guilt, the mental breakdown, the blood, the tears and the hospital ward.

I had been like a matryoshka doll. I had many layers, many smaller selves inside myself. By the time I was curled up on my hospital bed, too terrified to even face life, I was the tiniest, frail peg of myself. On the other side of the locked door was a very difficult reality: three hurting children, worried family members and friends and one house to share between two enemies. I wanted to escape it all. I wanted to take a detour away from reality and into solace.

The truth was that I was angry and I directed the anger inward. I became both hedonistic and self-destructive. I wanted to devour pleasure until it hurt and didn’t much care about the consequences. I made the wrong kind of friends and frequented the wrong kind of places. Within a month of being out of the psych ward, if my kids were with their dad, I was partying. I was doing hard drugs and was unabashedly promiscuous. In the span of 6 months I slept with at least 30 people. I was a meth addict. I was drinking most days of the week. I was on the verge of losing everything, but the thrill of living so close to the edge while maintaining the semblance of a normal life was hard to give up.

Regardless of my reckless living, I did maintain my job (barely) and home life. I was a functioning addict. As time passed I was able to give up drugs and stop drinking excessively. This was thanks to new and good people coming into my life and telling me I was better than all that. I know, obvious right? But for some reason I needed to hear it. I stopped the partying and distanced myself from bad influences. I had seen the edge and I had come close to falling over it and I somehow found the courage to crawl away from it to safety.

I am sober now. I have a wonderful new partner in my life. My home life is evolving into a new version of normal that is better than any normal I have ever known before. I kept my job, my house and my children. I nearly threw it all away. I was extremely foolish and reckless and I am extremely grateful that it didn’t ruin my kid’s lives and it didn’t end mine.

How do I learn to rebuild my life after divorce when all I can see and hear is pain and anger and chaos? I will only do it through steadfast love and respect for my kids and the resolve that their well being is so much more important than my discontent.

From now on I will always be in recovery. I am a recovering addict and I am also recovering from the demise of my marriage. I am recovering from self-loathing and guilt for risking so much. But the key word is recovery. I am getting it back together more and more all the time, or at least, that’s the idea! I have my low days and then I have days where I break down in tears because I am so relieved to be alive and I am overwhelmed by how much love surrounds me.

I look at my sweet kids, my new love, the blue sky dotted with clouds on a summer day, a kitty cat sprawled contentedly at the top of the stairs, my hands that are tired but still strong and still young; I feel the breath flowing in and out of my lungs, I feel my heart tapping at my chest. It says “you there, you there; you’re living, you’re living; keep going; don’t stop…”