Let me tell you about 2019 so far.
Some of my friends have commented. I’ve been quiet. And that’s true. I’ve been quite for a while because I’ve been working. Growing. There are some big things happening inside me, and I decided to do some of them on my own, instead of crowdsourcing my learning. This year, I’ve been holed up inside me trying to learn how to be loved. It hasn’t happened in a linear way. But my best growth usually happens when I let myself meander in life and just kind of watch the patterns around me. And it happens when I am patient, and not intensely focused on some specific outcome, or what other people think.
To do that, I needed to stop sharing for a while. I think a lot of times when I share, I end up absorbing too much of what other people think or expect, and I don’t take my own way. But I think these pieces have digested, and I want to piece some things together in an organized way. Because I don’t want to lose the stories. I have a sense in my gut that very big life changes are about to happen for me, and I want to take this quiet season with me as I move forward.
I’m not particularly religious, but I love Lent as a time of reflection. It carries me though those last grey weeks of winter and helps make the seasonal affective disorder months (February/March) a little more productive. During Lent, life experiments are the cultural norm. In Catholic Cincinnati, a LOT of people keep a Lenten discipline, and there’s a feeling of solidarity that fuels me. We’re all giving up sugar or coffee or curse words. We’re all just trying to be better people. I love life experiments.
The first part of 2019 put me in a rut In February, the man I’d been dating for six months suddenly broke up with me. He said that he cares about me, but listed a number of reasons he didn’t think we could be in a serious relationship. I knew the differences were there and I knew that I couldn’t change them. It hurt so much, but I wanted to be graceful and reasonable about it. So I cried, collected my things, and said goodbye. I wasn’t surprised by the breakup, but I was shocked at how much it hurt. Neither of us had been looking for a serious relationship, but apparently I’d fallen in love somewhere along the way. We tenuously reconciled a little bit later, but the damage was done. I was heartbroken. I’d muddle through the days, and then crawl in bed at night and cry. I ate Girl Scout cookies by the box. I’d stare at my phone waiting for him to text me (then be irrationally angry at him when he did). I dusted off the old “breakup playlist” I listened to while going through my divorce, and would drive around in the car singing at the top of my lungs. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of angsty texts to friends. In my old life, I was the kind of person who’d bounce back from a breakup quite gracefully. But, apparently, in my new life, I have feelings. Loads of them. #imagirl #thingsiveneverdonebefore
At the same time, work had ceased to be a constant party, and become . . . well, work. I’d settled into my new job long enough to transition from the honeymoon period of “Really? I can wear jeans?!!!!” to “We’ve got to talk about these office politics.” Ugh. The work was still fun and intense, but we started hitting the roadblocks you encounter in the heroin-solving business: egos, agendas, and (my least favorite) “We’ve always done it this way.” I guess I’d gotten a little spoiled by six months of accomplishing things with few barriers, and I was immensely frustrated by obstacles and setbacks. My team and I know each other well and trust each other unconditionally. But we had spent weeks working, travelling and being in proximity, and were starting to suffer from too much togetherness. It was still really good. But it had become the really hard kind of good.
Because cake is no good without icing, the calendar threw some anniversaries at me. In late January, the first anniversary of the Marshall County shooting. On Valentine’s Day (a few days after my breakup), Parkland. There were facebook posts and news articles, and it all felt so sad. These are the events that triggered my PTSD relapse last year, and I was on pins and needles – watching and waiting for another relapse to come. It is exhausting to constantly wonder if your brain in going to betray you . . . to wait for the shoe to drop. I did not have the relapse. This time around I have a better support network. But I was feeling like a bit of a burden to my friends, and self-conscious about my melodramatic boyfriend problems. There was, after all, a lot of feeling happening in my life.
I needed Lent to unstuck me . . . but I didn’t even know what had gotten me so stuck, let alone how to wiggle loose. And so I pondered and pondered. What life experiment should I do? I had a sense that the answer would come, and I waited.