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return to bme

i have been saying lately that i am convinced the universe hates women. and at the same time i have been absolutely blown away by the way the universe has kicked open doors for me and david that we didn't even realize existed in this past year. i am still convinced the universe hates women, but damn has it come through for my family as we have pursued emotional health and the life we want to live.

today is friday, december 4, 16 days away from the one year mark of david resigning from my family's business. what we did not know then would be his last day of work there. that day and the weeks following were some of the most terrifying of my life. scrambling to find out who in my family, if anyone, was safe for us. feeling so confused and disoriented, trying to understand the entirety of my life through a new lens: the lens of realizing i had been a victim of emotional abuse for all of my 33 years. i was standing shakily at the bottom of a mountain i knew i had to climb. we had taken the first step to escape a pit of despair. we found a trail, one that wasn't often tread. one that seemed risky and unclear. we stood at the bottom of the mountain, at the mouth of the trail, eyeing the map of ties to dissolve to achieve independence from the enmeshment we had walked into over the course of a lifetime. we did not know if we could do it but knew we had to try. and so one step at a time we followed that trail, we climbed that mountain. one step at a time we dissolved each tie, we reached each goal. and now it has all come full circle.

on monday i begin working for my beloved department of biomedical engineering at the university of texas at austin. on monday, december 7, after 4.5 years away, i will return to the academic advising office in the role of my former supervisor: academic advising coordinator. this job will allow david to remain at home with our kiddos and take over homeschooling, pursuing and sharing his love for learning with them. on december 20 of this year, i will have been in my new job for two weeks. and in just less than a year's time, david and i will have:

  1. resigned from a job with my family's business to dissolve the first tie of financial enmeshment

  2. started a new job just before the start of the pandemic

  3. refinanced our home to dissolve the second tie of financial enmeshment

  4. decided to list our home in michigan to pursue the life we want to live in austin, texas

  5. dissolved the third tie of financial enmeshment

  6. bought a house sight unseen in our old neighborhood

  7. sold our house in michigan

  8. moved across the country in the midst of a pandemic

  9. dissolved the fourth tie of financial enmeshment

  10. secured employment that would allow one of us to remain home with our kids

and i just want to say. if you had told me a year ago that i would be where i am today, i would not have believed you. each of these steps has been so. much. work. exhausting emotionally. and each one of them so. fucking. worth. it. when i got an email yesterday asking to schedule a call to talk about the position i had interviewed for, i knew that meant i would be getting an offer. i jumped up and down and happily squealed and hugged david and declared "WE DID IT!" we did it. we really did it. we stepped out and did some real crazy things like move across the country in the middle of a pandemic with no employment lined up, just brimming with hope and expectation for our future here in austin. we hung in the balance of the uncertainty of if and when we would be able to find a job to support our family. we had funds to last us a year if necessary, obviously not wanting to deplete them and hoping we could divert them to another use. sunday, september 20 we arrived in austin and just 11 weeks later, we achieved our goal. i'm still pinching myself. can this be real?!

i am overwhelmed with gratitude. simply in awe. for sure it was not the original plan for me to be the one returning to work. the reason for that being i did not think i would be able to secure employment where i would make enough to sustain our family so that david could remain home. for us it was important that one of us remain home with the kids. but as the weeks continued since our arrival in austin, our plan of david returning to work just was not sitting right. i craved time to all be together enjoying time that felt like it had been stolen from us. when i first heard of the possibility of this job, something changed. at first i dismissed the idea. but then i shared it with david and saw that he was supportive and even excited about the prospect of being home with the kids. could this be the answer we didn't know we were looking for? the answer was a resounding yes. with this shift, david and i both found ourselves able to relax more into enjoying this season of both of us being home and unemployed, gaining back that stolen time.

once i decided to apply for the job, i contemplated the possibility of not getting it. but we had settled into the idea of me returning to work and david being the one at home and so if this position did not pan out, i would continue to seek employment at the university in other departments. i applied for three other coordinator positions in different departments across campus toward this goal. positions that i could have seen myself enjoying and thriving in. and yet in the back of my mind i worried: but what if none of these jobs work out?

the steps we have taken over the course of the last year have been terrifying. each one required a bit of reprieve before tackling the next, just to recover and muster up the courage to embark on the next step. so much uncertainty. so much risk. so much emotional energy. we were willing to endure the uncertainty and take the risk because we just knew that whatever the outcome, we want to live our authentic lives. we wanted to be back in austin. we wanted to return to our old neighborhood. we wanted to be in a climate where we could enjoy being outside all year round. one that came with a lot more sunshine and blue sky days. a city that is bursting with life, growth, and opportunity. so david and i linked arms and locked eyes and said to each other: its you and me against the world. lets do this. and so we did.

and the sweet reality is, it was not just me and david. it was me and david and a slew of friends and non-emotionally abusive family members that rallied around us and loved on us and supported us through the transitions. we returned to a beautiful community in austin. we left a beautiful community in michigan. our relationships are so much more than the toxic ones we severed with family back in michigan. earlier this year one of my family members posed the question: if you keep cutting people [family] off, who are you going to have left? as if my emotionally abusive family members were all that i had. what a terrifying reality that would be. but what that family member couldn't see is that the people i have left are the ones that i share mutual love, trust, and respect with. the people i have left are beautiful and messy and authentic. they have my back. they see and hear me. they support me through my darkest days. some of them know me better than i know myself. they speak life and truth, love and courage. i would not be where i am without the community of people i call friends, and my non-emotionally abuse family members.

today david and i are going to go down to the university co-op when it opens at 11am. we're going to deck our family out in UT gear and come back up to our neighborhood and hit the trails with our tripod and camera and take a family photo. every year for christmas my mom requests one 8x10 photo of each of her adult children and bonus-children's families. the photo we take in our UT paraphernalia on our trails in our neighborhood will be the one we send to her for christmas.

on friday, december 20 of last year, my mom and bonus dad were with me at my house in michigan celebrating christmas. i was a wreck that day, and i was so grateful to have them there to keep me occupied and sane and help me care for my two small people. the way that they interacted with my children warmed my heart. the way my bonus dad appreciated them for who they were, not shaming me and them into who he though we should be, was so disarming. i realized this is the way it could be, the way it should be. i didn't have to feel constantly judged and criticized for what felt like every decision i made as the parent of my children. i could feel understood, accepted, supported, honored even. it gave me a window into what our life could look like. what it could be free from the toxic tendrils of emotional abuse and financial enmeshment. and though we have experienced the darkest of days over the last year, we have also seen the brightest of light. of hope. of what could be, and now of what is. we did it. as i declared over and over after i pushed juniper out of my vagina and managed to achieve a vaginal birth after cesarean: oh my baby, we did it!

now if 2021 could just be the most beautifully boring year ever, that would be awesome. universe? can you deliver on that?


hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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