What can I possibly say to you? As I begin this I am speechless. I sit here overwhelmed with all the challenges, all the horrors, all the sheetrock dust… I don’t even want to think about any of that. That’s not where I want to focus. Anyone who really knows me already knows all of that – anyone who follows this (very intermittent) blog already knows a lot of it..
I want to focus on this: I am alive today.
I am alive today. That is…both a miracle and a feat of inner strength I didn’t know that I had but found only because I was loved, even when I didn’t realize I was being loved.
I’ve needed the friendship and love I’ve had in my life this year more than any other I’ve faced. As everything from the past few years came to a head within me, and as I lost my grip and slid down to as close to rock bottom as I have ever gone, I found myself in a darkness like no other I’ve ever experienced. But with support and love from so many people, I began making the changes I needed to make to begin to get better both physically and mentally (like fighting my way back to the meds I knew I needed – and what a fight it was…).
2017 has been one my hardest fights with depression and anxiety and after being diagnosed with CPTSD and some specific physical health problems that I have had to learn how to manage, well, initially I didn’t handle anything very well at all. But then, I came to a precipice where I realized how life or death the situation was, and I did something I can hardly believe I did. I showed my weakness.
First, I showed this to my husband. It is truly to him that I owe my life this year. He has taken control in ways I have never seen him take control and he has exhibited patience beyond what I have ever seen in him – and that is saying a lot. He is my rock, my partner, my saving grace in so many ways, and still, after 18 years, my best friend. He and I have grown apart and back together more than once but never like this year. I love him so very much and I am so grateful that he is a part of my life. That’s a choice he made, and I am so blessed that he did.
I was also very open with my son about what was going on. I leaned on him, perhaps more than anyone, whether he realized it or not. It was simply his existence and the fact that he needed me as much as I needed him that gave me purpose and something to fight back with in my brain when my pain and my depression would try to convince me to give up. He is the light of my life, my dear friend, my little hero, and my biggest inspiration. I love him dearly. He is so much of my strength – and isn’t it amazing how such a small human can be such a source of healing and love… God bless that mess, as my father used to say…
My mother in law and her husband have gone above and beyond to help me by making the hardest things much easier and by being so incredibly understanding about my not being able to drive. They have come to us here so many times to pick up and to drop off the boy, and the phone calls I have shared with my mother in law have been another huge source of comfort and of feeling loved and supported. They are both more than inlaws to me. They are like my own parents. And Lord knows I’ve needed their help this year more than any other.
My cousin and her farm have also been a huge part of my sanity this year. I haven’t spent as much time there as I have in years past because, well, I wasn’t leaving home very much and certainly wasn’t able to drive myself. But even from a distance, sharing with her via phone calls and texts, always being able to ask her questions about the physical issues and cry on her with the emotional issues…she has continued to be an incredible blessing in my life and I love her dearly.
My friend Ralph – he has come back into my life in a grand way this year – staying here for weeks and helping to solve problems and support us and heal me (and us). I can’t even begin to share here all the ways he has helped me this year. Listened, understood, allowed, accepted, taught, hugged – he’s been my dad reincarnated while still being my Ralph. For quite some time I forgot that he was my friend – I viewed him as the boy’s godfather and friend and I focused more on their relationship with each other. This year I have relearned my own friendship with him and he is one of the best friends our lives have ever been blessed with. He has gone out of his way to help with anything that we’ve asked for help with, and even stepped in when a need was there and we weren’t asking – no matter what it was. I wouldn’t be here without the teamwork between him and my husband to steer me in the right direction, make sure I got to appointments, make sure my rights were fought for despite my inability to fight for myself.
And then, there’s the internet. You. All of you who have commented on my Instagram and blog posts, who have emailed me or private messaged me. Strangers, friends, all the same – you have done much to propel me forward and help me to keep hope somewhere in the darkness. I have received so much love and shared many conversations with people like me, or people with friends or family struggling with similar problems, and all of these conversations have helped me to see things differently, to see through other people’s struggles, to learn different ways of coping that I’d never tried or even heard of before. While I’ve become quite private in the last half of the year, you have all always encouraged me to share when and what I wanted, and to remember that it always helps us, too, when we help each other, and that that is what sharing could amount to.
One of the things the internet gave me – nay, the universe – that has helped me tremendously this year was a reconnection to a person that forever changed my life years ago but still has that same role in it – teaching me, listening, showing me by her own example and opening my eyes to the me I CAN be, to make more and bigger steps forward and not stay there as long when I take steps backward, and to own the fact that I must and I CAN do it myself. It waivers, still, but my faith and confidence in myself and in spiritual things is returning in huge waves through the existence of this person in my life and the experiences we have shared in common, and I am so very grateful for the blessing that has (always) existed in our friendship.
Yes, 2017. You have been tough. The toughest. Even still, in the fall of the year I found myself going more places even when it was hard and being more and more open with certain people in my life to heal the bits and pieces a little at a time. I found myself being pulled back to nature and spending huge amounts of time in it, hiking and climbing, exploring and camping… The winter came, and as always the struggle has returned in some ways. The cold hurts my body and the darker days hurt my mind. But I’m not planning on letting that stop me as the new year turns over it’s new leaf.
2017, you gave me the hardest battles I’ve ever fought – most of them with myself (and with doctors). But what you gave me that is really just about all I can see today is love and friendship despite the hard things. Support, kindness, compassion… You surrounded me with it – and while I didn’t realize I was accepting it until recently, I DO realize it and I am grateful for it. So, 2017, while your beginning was the most difficult, sickest time of my life, your ending comes with my realization of these lessons:
The harsh (for me, the independent) lesson in the reality of how life is not meant to be lived alone.
We are not meant to merely survive these horrible things, nor do we HAVE to do so, alone.
We are meant to give and receive love, and sometimes, although the balance is off, love is always there.
Good is always there – good things, good people, a good life to be had if we persevere.
Sometimes endings aren’t endings at all – they are mere pauses. The heart knows which is which with each situation and circumstance.
It is always worth our hope, and our hard work, to continue on.
There are ALWAYS people out there who can be touched by us, even by our worst experiences their lives can be made better.
It is okay not to be okay.
It is okay to take the time we need and to retreat.
It is okay to doubt, and to fear, but not to stay there.
It is okay to be who we are – those who are meant to be in our lives and bring good to our lives WILL. No matter what.
The universe truly does provide.
And, ultimately, that we all struggle, and we all matter, and we are all worthy of the help we are offered – sometimes, the hardest thing is to accept it.
So, in closing, I am grateful for the help that’s been offered me this year, and I’m grateful that I somehow accepted it. I wouldn’t be here without having done that. I wouldn’t be here without every one of the people mentioned in this post, including you. I am filled with gratitude and with love for you all, and to close this year I say, “thank you,” to you, to my family, and to 2017.
May 2018 overflow with all the love, friendship, joy, and blessings that you – that we all – deserve.
All my love,