Closure & The End of Dripping Mascara

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My big sappy THANK YOU speech is here as promised—with an awesome accompanying video on Instagram playing to "Long Live" by Taylor Swift and "Hall of Fame" by The Script.
This entry is dreadfully long but I dearly hope you read it until the end.

A shaky ambition borne of a dream—one that I never truly banked on—began to see a sunrise in September 2014, when I impulsively decided to start writing #DrippingMascara on @episode.
I still remember the hell it was to start learning the language of Episode—way before I mastered it, way before I eventually began to set a few trends in it. I doubted I would even publish said story because the learning curve was so steep and I darn near gave up.
And when I finally moved past that, I never expected to see this story achieve the heights it has, or travel the story arcs and social issues it has covered.
And finally, never in my wildest dreams did I EVER imagine that I would finish the story in a marathon that would take almost THREE YEARS.

Fam, this is crazy.
If I had known in 2014 that this endeavor would take three years, I'd have dropped this ambition faster than a puppy drops sour lemon slices. What a dream, what a crazy adventure—what a historic thing it is for me to see Dripping Mascara completed. FINISHED!
My first makeshift novel series.
Finally.

I can't put into words what this story has done for me, what you have done for me both in proxy and directly.

2017 was a year that I've dreaded living since I was a little girl. Remember all my big old speeches about wedding bells that might come someday?
Well, my loves—whenever I verbalized that in my posts, while I knew it would happen, I never really believed in it.
It was like talking about a weird place I never visited, like talking about death in a sense.
Strange, foreign—yes, hopelessly inevitable—but something I simply couldn't grasp or fathom.
I don't know why... but it just wasn't real to me.

And then the news came like a whirlwind and I was unwillingly lost in its suspension.

Engaged in May, married in July.
Me, facing the casualties from a storm I thought I proofed my mental home to way back when, mere months after writing Season 5. I thought I was "clean", to borrow a line from T-Swift.

Hon, you thought.

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.oOo.

I won't lie... it was so stupid.
I frankly don't know who I was this summer because I regressed so miserably. All that empowering talk I've spouted for years about moving on and mess—yes, I'd moved on once, had been free of his ghost, his memory, for years.
Thanks to this story, above everything, I made peace and accepted what happened with grace and hope for an unchartered future that was solely my own.

But just like that, in a matter of a mere day, I was shuttled back to that dreadful square one when the status quo shifted.

Confined again in maudlin, self-pitying trenches.
Grieving again at the grave of a love that was never fulfilled, one that I hadn't paid homage to in years. I'd gone through all the stages almost neatly in order, during my early stages of writing this story. And yet here I was years later, woefully relapsing, and the sight wasn't pretty.

There were a few nights this summer that I cried myself to sleep, wishing things were different. I am mortified to admit that the night of his wedding was one of them.
I conquered most days this summer, all of them when I was in OB/GYN, by immersing myself in the amazing ways I was contributing to the world, putting all of myself into taking care of my patients, engrossing myself in doing everything I could to "keep breathing" (a song by Ingrid Michaelson that served as a mantra for overcoming). When I came home, I'd lose myself in books and study 'till I fell asleep, so that I wouldn't have to think.

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