And What Have You Learned?
Hello! Well, it’s been a while. Three months. Thirteen weeks. Ninety days. That is how long it’s been since I dropped off the face of social media and this blog.
At the end of January, after not one but two right-on-top-of-each-other miscarriages, I was at the bottom. A can of gasoline in one hand and a match in the other. You see, self destruction is a pattern for me; a little hobby of mine. When I am sad, angry, scared and unable to cope, I implode and I take everything around me, with me. I look at my life. I hate it. And then I light a match to watch it burn. It’s happened multiple times before. And at the end of January I was ready to give in to all the bad feelings and strike that match.
But I didn’t. And I thought to myself “Well THAT’S new.”
Look, I have spent the better part of the last 15 years trying to understand and anticipate my overwhelming urge to blow up my life when shit falls apart. I am here to tell you there is no secret answer and no quick win. Which you should have picked up on by the fact it took me 15 years to get a working system in place. Anyhoo. At my lowest point I made a plan: four points to focus on over 90 days.
- Get a therapist.
- Get some exercise.
- Get some gratitude.
- Get some perspective.
And here I fucking am. I started out knee-deep in the internal chaos of my broken soul and slogged through ninety days of self improvement only to emerge into the external chaos of the coronavirus and the impact it’s had on every aspect of our society. Really 2020? Seriously. Fuck you. But it’s honestly not all bad. Let me tell you about the last three months.
February – I looked inward. In the beginning, I wasn’t much use to anyone at home or at work. Those first days were impossible. The anger, hate, and hopelessness of each day was unbearable. The darkness was closing in and it felt like death. Still, each morning I would wake up and walk to the edge of the darkness. I would look deep into that abyss and remind myself… “What do we say to the God of Death? Not today.” And each day it became a little more believable. I dedicated the entire month to some pretty intense self examination. I found a therapist. Every morning I wrote in a gratitude journal. Each night I dumped crazy thoughts into another journal. And I exercised. A lot. But the most remarkable side effect was that because I was hyper-focused on keeping myself afloat, I found it unnecessary to deal with the… well unnecessary. I cut out the shit – all of it. At work, I set clear expectations of what I could do and what I would not. When I felt overwhelmed, I took the time to breathe. I made time to be alone – I went to the movie theater twice – by myself. I stopped grocery shopping – opting for home delivery and a weekly meal service. I stopped forcing myself to plan for anything beyond the current week. If it took focus from what I was trying to save – my physical and mental health – I had no time for it. I didn’t feel pressure to be the cool chick and roll with all of the outside expectations. Because honestly fuck everyone else, so I spoke up and stood up for me.
March – I marched forward. March felt like fresh air. I was in a groove. I had momentum. I was seeing my therapist weekly. I rode the Peloton every day. I was even starting to enjoy the few minutes I set aside each morning to write in that gratitude journal. At night, I scribbled a stupid stream of consciousness into a notebook. When I had a chance to get my workout and my journaling done before work, I noticed that I was so much more productive at my job. I was starting to feel better. Good even. We had stopped talking about the miscarriages in my therapy appointments and started digging into other aspects of my life. I had forgotten how much good it does me to talk things out with an objective third party. I was starting to breathe a little deeper and feel like myself again. And then in the span of one week, everything changed with the coronavirus. Suddenly, Brian and I were both working from home. There was no daycare. No Peloton classes. No alone time. Nowhere to escape. This is when I noticed that if I didn’t carve out the time to do those things for me, my day was shit. Blink and I was back in the dark place. But I was determined. I would not let go of this gift I’d given myself.
April – I found stillness. After a few weeks of the “stay at home” order, something strange happened. I had braced myself for this being one of the most unbearable experiences so far. One more fucking hurdle from an increasingly vindictive universe. Social distancing has been hard for a lot of people. But I noticed that it hasn’t been all that difficult for me. Yes. It is fucking hard to manage a household, do your day job and to parent a nearly 3-year-old simultaneously, but as tiring and stressful as that is, I found myself rolling with it – instead of fighting against it. And now I realize why: all of that garbage from January. My life was ripped apart by forces I had no control over. I had no other choice but to find calmness inside of that chaos. I focused on what I could handle. I made my health a priority. Anything that did not serve either purpose could fuck right off. This whole time I was practicing looking for the good in what is clearly shit. I was training myself on all of the skills that have helped me stay healthy and maintain perspective in this unprecedented situation. I can handle it. Life has changed again, it’s stayed hard, but somehow it’s not impossible.
So, what’s next? I don’t know. But I’m still here and I have learned a thing or two:
- Look at what you have to work with
- Decide what makes you happy and what keeps you healthy
- Refuse anything and everything that detracts from that
- Go out and “do” with determination and integrity
Am I back to 100 percent? No. Am I better? Yes. I still get that twinge of anger and jealousy when I see someone in my circle getting to have what I lost. Luckily it’s only a moment. And the moments that follow bring me back to reality. The reality is we may never get another chance. Honestly, I’m not good with that. But if I look at my life, IT IS FULL and I know that no matter what I can live in it and be happy.
Here endeth the lessson.