36 années

I’m nervous to write. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Either the flood gates will open and I will be overwhelmed by all that I need to say or… nothing… blank stare, blank page, and I will have to face the fact that I actually have no thoughts, no story to tell, nothing to write.

Yesterday was my birthday. 36 years old. Feels different this time. I feel like I am coming into myself. Becoming a person that I can be proud of, a woman with integrity and ability.

But when did I get so fat? don’t answer that.
And why did I check out of my own life and myself for so long? don’t answer that either.

This year’s birthday validated the sense that I am becoming a person deserving of belonging and acceptance. My colleagues celebrated with fancy donuts yesterday for all of us with September birthdays- I was neither the star of the show nor ignored. I got some really thoughtful cards that were very personal. People “got” me. My kids bought me flowers and cake and an actual birthday gift to support my newest hobby. It was really nice.

I’m not sure what else to write about. Looks like I was right- I have nothing to say. That’s not true. I have things to say, but maybe I just don’t want to jinx anything… things are pretty good right now. Maybe I’ll write more tomorrow.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy comic

This year I will be alive

I suppose some sort of New Years reflective post would be in order this week.

I’m not really sure where to begin. A year is just a number. But maybe it means more.

2014. How did the year go? The year began with some joy – taking my kids ice skating. The year ended with some joy – playing lego with my kids in our new house. In between, there has been more joy. I think that’s a good thing. I hesitate to admit this because I’m sure I’ve had very low points this year that may have marred someone else’s year. But for me, even my low points were higher than some of my higher points in recent years. The clouds are still dark and heavy but they are starting to let some light through and I’m getting stronger.

Highlights of 2014 include:

  • Becoming friends with my husband
  • Becoming a reliable source of comfort for my son
  • Enjoying playing with my children- remembering how to be silly
  • Getting reacquainted with my yoga mat
  • Succeeding at work and being offered a permanent job (as opposed to contract)
  • Banishing some of the guilt of not having a relationship with my parents
  • Finding a combination of medication that seems to work better
  • Buying a house and making it a home.
  • Mostly feeling confident that I exist.

As nice as it is to reflect on the good, it’s important to reflect on the bad as well. I need to be open about the bad to give context to the good. 2012 was my worst year. It was the year of crashing to the bottom in the dark – a year of feeling terribly alone, out of control and in pain. The year began with a near suicide attempt, a cry for help that no one heard, and ended with the last time I saw my parents and siblings in one room.

Highlights of 2012 included:

  • battling daily debilitating anxiety, (and still having to care for my children)
  • getting fired,
  • having several hypomanic episodes,
  • being sedated on antipsychotic meds
  • getting evicted,
  • having my pain ignored by my mother,
  • witnessing my mother break apart our family and my father stand by,
  • adding the suicide crisis hotline to my speed-dial.
  • realizing the extent of how unwell I truly was.

Yes. 2012 was definitely my worst year. I wanted so badly to be a proper mother but there was so much repression, fear and confusion in my brain.

My husband might think that 2013 was our worst year. 2013 was the year we uncovered all the muck and really faced the demons that I had to deal with. For me, this was a relief because I could understand what was going on. But for him, I think that it was terrifying because the demons were pretty fuckin scary.  I was also bouncing around between too high insanity and depression, trying new meds, unable to really care for the kids, obsessed with my thoughts and generally not very nice. I know he struggled to stick around that year but I am so very grateful that he did.

I think 2013 was his worst year. But I’d been living with those demons a long time, 2013 was actually my hardest year. I worked so so hard every single day. I could (sometimes) see a hint of light at the end and I understood that I had to get there to save my kids. Sometimes it was more steps back than forward but at least I was on a path as opposed to free-falling. I understood what I was dealing with and what kind of mountain I had to climb. Unfortunately, I can’t really make a list of the highlights of 2013, because I can’t remember much of that year. But I know that I am here today because of the work I did that year.

2012, 2013, 2014. Numbers that represent something. Progress in my understanding what it means to truly be alive.

In yoga class today, the instructor spoke about articulating an intention for the hour and even for the year. She said that her intention was to be free.  In constricting postures, like eagle pose, she asked us to find the freedom and space. My intention for this year is also to be free. I will try to be free in my body and in my life. I will allow myself to cut shackles and relationships that don’t work for me. I will strengthen my core, both physically and emotionally. I will trust my feet to hold me up and trust my right to a space in this world.

I will breath deeply and fluidly. I will stretch. I will love. In 2015, I will be alive.

May this be a year of shiny, healthy boundaries. Less guilt, more love!