I love it. It tastes like joy, and smells like freedom.
And yet, as my family is prone to point out, it’s also basically rat poison in a can.
You know, minor details.
But after the turn of the year, I realized HOW MUCH I was really drinking and spending on that dark brown elixir. (Spoiler alert: way too much.) So I decided that I would cut back. I went to drinking one per day, which was hard. Even harder was when I decided to go to 3 per week.
Tomorrow, however, starts the real test. I’m giving up Diet Coke for lent.
So back in Part I, I realized I had a problem. I wish I could say that I immediately realized it, and snapped out of it. I wish, I wish.
Instead, I was in a state of shock and suspended reality for a couple of days. I knew I had to change, but it seemed that everything had gotten out of control, and I didn’t know where to start. And then the people I had turned to when things went south, well, turns out they weren’t nearly as friendly as they appeared. So I went on a cleanse. I gave up several social media platforms, I stopped immersing myself in the same things and I started making lists.
At some point, I’ll post about the long lost art form of the list, but suffice it to say that lists are my happy place.
First up on the list was a doctor’s appointment. I scheduled one ASAP and went to talk to her about my depression and my bouts of anxiety. After some discussion, she referred me to an excellent family counselor, and recommended that if things didn’t change that I come back and see her about a prescription.
I added making an appointment with the counselor to my list. Spoiler alert: if you think the moral to this story is ‘A has her shit together and she’s in therapy,’ you’ve come to the wrong place. There’s a reason this is called *amateur* adulthood. If I was good at this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. That item is still on my list. I haven’t called the counselor, nor have I revisited my doctor. I know. I know.
However, I did do the next several things on my list.
First, I started calling my parents regularly. This can be hard for me, because my parents and I don’t always see eye to eye (re: election anxiety), and also because getting information from my mother is like trying to get honey from a beehive. She’s a tough nut. But setting aside time every week to talk to them lessened my guilt and also gave all of us a place to air our lingering feelings that are hard to discuss with people outside the family.
Second, I started journaling again. I wrote down everything I felt. Dumping it was a relief. I wrote and wrote without impunity. Then a funny thing happened. A couple weeks in to journaling, my husband asked me what I was writing, and I told him. It may not seem like a big deal, but I had been ignoring the fact that I had a life partner to share things with, and once I started trusting myself to share them, he started helping me work through the plethora of things that were constantly running through my head.
Thirdly, and probably most oddly, I gave myself tasks. Small tasks. Like-unpack the spare bathroom. Or buy two Christmas gifts. And let’s be real, sometimes it was shower and go downstairs. I started actually accomplishing things in my everyday life, instead of burying myself in work and pretending that I was too busy to do the simple stuff. As I started to take time to do those things, I started realizing how much I had been missing.
I’d like to say the fog has been completely lifted, but as always, some days are better than others. There are still days where I wake up feeling guilty, or anxious, or even sad. But instead of supressing those feelings, I talk about them. I don’t let them dictate my day. I talk to people instead of closing up. While this absolutely won’t work for everyone, it’s working for me.
So why am I taking the time to write it out on this blog that no one has used in over a year? Well, because my husband reminded me that I had started that 30 for 30 list so long ago. So I revisited the site to look at my list, and I missed this idea. I missed sharing my thoughts publicly. I missed V.
2016 wasn’t a great year for me. Some really good things happened, but some truly terrible ones did too. And guess what? That’s probably how 2017 will be as well. But in 2017 I’m choosing to not stop.
It was incredibly unexpected and extremely difficult. Sure, he was aging, but he never seemed old.
He wasn’t the first person I had lost unexpectedly, my uncle died my junior year of college, which was an incredibly tragic loss. And almost exactly a year prior to my maternal grandfather passing, my paternal grandfather lost his battle with a long term illness.
But after my Grampa died last March, I found myself struggling in a way I never really had before. I was sad, because I was missing this man who had meant so much to me. I was guilty, because I hadn’t felt like this when Grandfather passed away. I was apologetic because I didn’t think my grief was important. I was anxious because people would ask me how my mom or Gramma were doing and I really didn’t have an answer, I had been steadfastly avoiding the topic. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I sure as hell didn’t want to deal with it.
So I stopped. I stopped talking to the people I loved. I stopped doing the things that reminded me of Grampa. I avoided my hometown, my voicemail, the boxes in storage at my in-laws. I threw myself in to hobbies that were inconsequential and I started talking to people who had no idea what my family was like. (Some of those people have been amazing, others turned out to be less so.) I worked. A LOT.
As you can probably guess, none of this made my grief disappear. In fact, if you put together that I was fairly depressed, then you’re a lot smarter than I, dear reader. My husband, god bless him, tried. He asked me to work out with him (I didn’t, I ate chips). He asked me about this blog (I’d give a half hearted attempt at making a draft and then give up fairly quickly). He even encouraged me to SPEND MONEY (this is unheard of, and I didn’t even want to buy shoes [the very first time ever]). I kept assuring everyone that I was fine.
Then a few months ago, we bought a house. I love our house, it’s awesome. We couldn’t be happier. But there is this janky path from our gate to our deck. And after we moved in, we were exploring (like you do), and we realized just how janky the path really is. My husband turned to me and said, ‘You know who could fix this? Grampa.’ At which point I promptly burst in to tears.
All of my bluster and denial had done nothing to help me process the grief I was feeling. Ignoring my parents, who were both struggling with the loss of their fathers wasn’t helping anyone. Avoiding people who were trying to be there for me was only sowing resentment on both sides of the fence. Basically, I was doing everything wrong and I didn’t know how to fix it. Oh, and did I mention we were coming up to the holidays? Also the people I thought were ‘helping’ turned out to cause more problems? Plus, change (even the good kind) always causes me anxiety? And that doesn’t even include the election.
This was the bottom. I was trying to put a good face on things, but it wasn’t working. It was time to change how I was handling my shit.