I don’t even know where to start.
Where do you begin when the life you had planned, the one you were living in like a comfortable, favorite worn slipper, is suddenly blown to bits, and you find yourself somewhere you never expected? Somewhere you couldn’t possibly have anticipated?
I started 2014 unsure how I was going to manage the mountainous work load ahead of me. I’d booked business and travel for the ten months to come. I was buried in PhD work, frazzled at the mere thought of the balancing act in play.
And there was my depression, which I’d been battling like a drunken, blindfolded clown with a dull plastic sword made of cheese puffs.
By May, I was running on empty. Commitments were falling by the wayside, and I cried myself into a snotty, swollen heap on the bathroom floor/kitchen floor/bed/couch/bus/tram repeatedly. And then things blew up with my PhD work, and I ended up dropping it, something I found deeply stressful, though I knew it was the right thing to do.
And that should have eased the stress, but it didn’t. I was still overwhelmed, still a dark mass of sludge, slowly sinking into the mire. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped eating. I stopped talking. No one could reach me, no one could help me.
I stopped fully investing in anything. Trips were taken and enjoyed, but the darkness was still swallowing me, though I desperately tried to hide it. I missed deadlines, started laying on the couch all the time, head barely peeking over the covers.
The darkness won.
I gave up. I planned my suicide. I wrote my letters and chose the date and location, hoping it was far enough from any events that would be ruined for people in years to come. I was done. I was at peace with it. I was ready and biding my time. (I wrote this blog on depression after Robin William’s suicide, but I was already in emotional quicksand).
Things changed. I won’t go into detail, because there are still things I keep private, things we, together, decided not to share with other people. It is enough to say that after twelve years together, my partner and I split up. It was horrendous, it was hard, it was painful. But we remain friends, and I am grateful for every moment of our time together. Though there are still raw moments, as there will be for awhile, we are both moving forward with our lives.
In the Jan 1st blog for 2014, I couldn’t have anticipated that the butt-end of 2014 would include an entirely new life, one as unrecognizable from the previous life as chicken nuggets are from a living chicken. I suppose you can’t really prepare for the total dismantling and rebuilding of your life (at nearly 40). (Side-note: It was intense, the way people quickly took sides, and I found out I was the part of the couple people didn’t like–‘friends’ reached out to her, some whom I’ve known almost my entire life, and many of them I have yet to hear from. Hurtful, unexpected, but so be it. Though I can now count my friends on one hand, at least I know they’re true.)
I am still beset with self-doubt, as is no doubt normal right now. I’m not good enough. I’m broken beyond repair. I’m not worthy. I’m a moron, a fake, a fraud, an impostor. I’m nothing, and never will be. I’m far less intelligent than I pretend, and far less capable than I portray. I am weak. This is only a delay to the inevitable.
I am doing battle with these internalized gremlins who run riot through my brain, infecting my body with their poison. I am trying to reign them in, if not kill them altogether. But damn, they’re stubborn little beasties. No matter what those close to me tell me, no matter how much love and acceptance come my way, the sludge-gremlins scuttle through my psyche, peeling apart any positive construction and feeding it to the tar that is my self-esteem.
But: I’m in a new relationship, one in which I laugh often and wake smiling, where I am feeling once more that life is worth living. I am making plans again, beyond the previously planned exit from this lifetime. Now, though that black tar still bubbles quietly in my soul, I am afraid of it rather than accepting of it. There are things I want to do, experiences and love I want to grab hold of, if only the tar, the sludge, can be kept at bay. Perhaps with love, patience, understanding and the ability to embrace every aspect of who, and what, I am, I will learn to see myself as more, as worthy of the love being offered so beautifully and freely to me. I am ready to be different–to be better, to be more, to be capable of loving without a fortress of walls and caveats. It will take time, and work. But my new relationship understands that, even as she pulls me, gently and constantly, into the light, while still embracing and caring for my dark.
2015. A new beginning. A new life, with possibilities and options. Full of love, and laughter, and adventure. Full of quiet conversations, of travel, of plans. Of building my business, of working with marginalized groups on writing projects. Of doing less, but enjoying what I am doing, more. Of growth, and communication.
This year, I will try to learn to be me–authentically, genuinely me. I will either vanquish my demons, or learn to coexist with them without them dragging me under. I will no longer let them define me or ruin my chances of happiness. I will not let them hurt others. I will let go of regrets and the toxicity that is guilt.
I will move forward. I will thrive. I will love and be loved. I will be Me.
Happy 2015, everyone. May it be the start of something special in so many ways.