I married my high-school sweetheart right out college and lived a blissful life for 22 years. He was my rock when I went to law school, supported me when my father died shortly after I gave birth to our beautiful daughter and when I had a major health scare.
After every crisis, we seemed to come back stronger, more in love and more connected than ever before. We shared everything, so I shouldn't have been shocked when he walked out of me and into my best friend's arms.
Suddenly, I was alone. I had my daughter, who was seven at the time and I had many loyal friends and family members who helped wherever they could. But after I tucked my daughter in at night, I went to bed alone... I had nobody to ask how my day was. After years of being one half of a couple, I was all alone. I had to find my identity.
Going to my annual medical check up - alone - for the first time, was torture. He had been there for me when I was first diagnosed six years ago, and held my hands through the treatment and the annual checkups. We faced everything as a team before, and standing there, checking the "single" box on the insurance form, and listing a friend as my next of kin, I felt more alone than ever in my life. Suddenly, I had nobody with whom I could share the outcome of my check up.
I was a total mess during those early days. The house felt empty, especially when my daughter went to visit her dad, and my ex-best friend. The two people with whom I shared my innermost thoughts and emotions were now together. After their betrayal, I was left alone, empty. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep.
The loneliness was a physical ache deep inside my body and I couldn't breathe. I called my next-door neighbour, who had become a rock during this time and she came over with her husband. I sat outside on the lawn, in the throes of a full-on panic attack, when I realised that I had amazing friends and family who cared and that meant that I would never be lonely.
From that night on, I started taking one day at a time, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the past, or by the firsts that now defined my existence. I was just fine when, for the first time in my life, I went to a wedding on my own. I was worried about how distant relatives would look at me, expecting to see Scott by my side, but they didn't seem to notice.
Soon enough, I was handling life on my own like a pro: I refinanced the home in my name only; I bought a new car all by myself and threw out the expired imported coffee that I bought for Scott. I won't lie - I did call my mother crying a couple of times, but at the end of the day I survived.
One of the perks of being on my own was that I could do girls' nights with my daughter a few times a week, without having to consider anyone else. Some nights, after watching chick flicks, she would fall asleep in my bed, and I didn't need to carry her to her room. Those were some precious moments - waking up to that gorgeous little face on the pillow next to me.
After time, I learned that being alone does not mean I have to be lonely. I learned to be, to just be quiet and relaxed when my daughter was not there. I realised that happiness has to come from the inside, from being confident enough to be on my own, without needing Scott to complete me.
Another first for me was finding love - real love - as an adult. Now that I have found love again, I am independent enough to handle a mature relationship with someone special, knowing that I am worthy enough as an individual to be in a relationship, but strong enough to be alone, too.