Recently I stepped out of a darkness I didn’t realize I was in, and leaving it behind is a process. I believe I would be selling myself short if I said I was fragile because I’m actually quite strong. But, emotionally I feel so much at once sometimes, it causes me to have the illusion that I’m weak. I’ve been learning to be more open. The less kept inside limits the risk of imploding, this is a discovery. When I care about someone or something, I do so with all of me. That’s just who I am, how I’m wired. I live and work and write with passion. And, sometimes I fall apart with passion …
“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand.” ― Hayley Williams
The straw that broke the camel’s back is one of those many sayings that have lost their meaning from overuse. This past fall I had gotten tossed some pretty intense straws. To set the stage, my youngest started Kindergarten; officially my family was in a brand new phase. Like so many things the weight of what this meant was disregarded until upon us. No more did we have preschool mornings and park afternoons in hopes of smoothly sailing into nap time. Playdough isn’t always stuck to my floor anymore.
My role was officially different. At this very same time, I took a career leap I’ve been planning for awhile, which was switching to writing full time. It was shocking to me how much being able to dedicate forty hours a week to my writing career changed my entire outlook on life.
My adventuring habits and night time writing morphed into daytime writing and only talking to the same six people every day. Alone, these two transitions caused us to hit September like a boat off course in a storm. All the while, inside I was in an emotional tailspin.
There are many moments in life that fall into different categories. Certain memories became instantly engraved in our minds upon their arrival. The details of my best friend telling me her cancer was back, and terminal, was one of those moments that declared me forever changed. Gaining that knowledge at the end of summer was a heart crushing way to end a year of her battling with various health issues, in and out of hospitals. Like my heart tends to do, it went all in. I tried my hardest to cherish all the time I could while I could.
The middle of October came, and the transition of working full-time and busy elementary household was screaming as was the realization that my friend wasn’t going to be around much longer. I had one goal during the fall, which was I didn’t want to be someone who disappointed. I didn’t want to walk away with regrets.
A few days before Halloween my friend died. I missed the calls in the morning. By the time I reached out, she was gone, and I began to unravel. I continued with my hectic schedule, as usual, terrified of feeling the pain looming in the corners of my mind. Her service came and went in a teary-eyed, lonely blur. I remember feeling how badly I needed to talk to her. A week later I injured my foot while carefully carrying too much down the stairs, rendering myself more sedentary than not for a few weeks. This, I believe was the straw.
I remembered laying on the sofa so consumed by her absence I couldn’t see through it. To be knowingly so depressed was scaring me. Waves of sadness were followed by waves of nothing. In the quiet moments, the loss was deafening. It was clear to me I wasn’t handling this well, though I know something like grief can’t be outlined and told what to do next. The todo list of all my upcoming writing projects sat there on my end table staring at me, telling me to put myself together and get some work done.
That’s when I made the decision to bury myself in work. I filled every small pocket of time with a work task. If my mind was busy, it couldn’t be sad. Where I am now, I can look back and clearly see how this wasn’t a healthy choice. But, at that moment, I truly thought it was. For awhile it helped me to be put together around the kids, and check off all the items that proved I was functional. I was getting through this. My work-coping turned my forty hours to something closer to seventy. As days accumulated, I started feeling more and more isolated inside myself, like I was inside a glass box, I could see the world around me, but I didn’t feel it.
But like all things, nothing lasts forever. My constant work-coping sucks a few months up in a vacuum of brilliant ideas, late nights, and a lot of sad moments. Another saying that has lost its power over time is “It all came to a head,” which it did. I became consumed by anger.
A whisper from my loved ones and the part of me who was getting reading to come back started to break through the emotional walls I put up. At first, the concern of my well being passed me by like so many things did during those five months.
The natural dreariness of winter began to shed itself away, which in result somehow highlighted how ‘off’ I truly was.
A lot like clouds temporarily parting, allowing glimmers of sunshine to peak through, I could see my world clearer in glimpses. I could see I was somewhere else, realizing that I wasn’t okay, and needing help was the beginning of the journey that I’m learning to transverse.
Photo: © Julie Anderson All Rights Reserved