It was on this day one year ago that everything changed. And the change began with everything falling apart. One by one, the “solids” in my life unraveled like lazy yarn. It all started on New Years Eve, 2010.
My body was in what I like to call “Fail Mode” and I was at my parents house, feeling isolated and crappy. I was convincing myself that by that night I would feel well enough to leave, join the world in the celebration of a New Year and maybe even drink some champagne. Hah. Did. Not. Happen. By 5 pm I was sending out a very familiar text: “Sorry dude, I feel terrible. Won’t be able to make it…” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that phrase, well, you know.
That night I finally had a bit of a mental breakdown. My parents stayed up until midnight. At 12 they kissed and I looked down and saw Monty, so I kissed him. My new years kiss was with my dog. GREAT. I kept reminding myself that it was only a night, it wouldn’t last. By tomorrow, the party I was missing would be over, and so would all of this. For some reason, my mom couldn’t sleep that night and neither could I. I walked out into the living room around 2 am, saw her watching TV, and lost my shit. Through the tears I finally admitted to her how worried I was about my life. I hardly had a social life anymore. I was barely making it to work every day. Traveling was too hard on me so I had basically stopped. It felt like all I did was work and sleep. I had nothing left for anything else. Nothing left for the ‘good parts.’ Nights and weekends were often spent in bed, catching up. I felt out of control. The illness was in control, and that scared me. My mom counseled me through it the way she would continue to do for the next year. She reminded me I was young, that this moment wasn’t forever, and there was still a lot of possibility if I could only hang on. She was right. But hanging on is the hardest thing to do. At times this year it felt like I was sinking, and couldn’t see the bottom or the top.
New Years Day I was no better. Everything hurt. I was heavy, dizzy, and nauseous. I would be stationary but feel carsick. Walking became hard. Too hard. I continued to get worse until Monday when I woke up and felt too fatigued to walk to the bathroom. That’s when I called the parents, they came to pick me up, and the gradual “move back in with the parents” began. Each day it became painfully more clear that I wouldn’t be able to live by myself anymore. It didn’t bother me so much at that point. I was too sick for pride.
I remember when my sister came to help out at the end of January and I told her I wished there was a fast forward button. “I just want it to be over.” She sat with me, said she wished for one too, but told me the truth. “It’s gonna be hard Mare, but we’ll get through it.” And now I look at the date and see, I made it. The crappiest year of my life, is about to be over. Hells yeah! Sometimes I wish I could bundle 2011 up in a big bowl of lint and burn it to nothing. The truth of the matter is it’s all theoretical anyway. January 1st is just the day after December 31st. It doesn’t mean anything, really. But our perspective changes. We make new plans, pledges, and goals in hopes for not a new life, but a better life. Even though it is just another year, and there’s a possibility it could be even worse than 2011, I am a romantic for the capability of change. And a new year holds great possibilities. It’s like buying a fresh new notebook. You don’t know what will fill the pages, but the prospect on the blankness excites you.
The truth is it’s about to be 2012 and my struggle is going to continue. I’m not all better. I am still jobless, still living with my parents, and struggling to maintain relationships. The challenges I faced in 2011 are still going to be there. My hope is though, that I’ve learned and suffered enough to manage what’s in front of me. Like my mom says, “Just do today.” I hope that I continue to grow, that I cherish what I have and not long for what I don’t. I’m looking at 2012 as the year of possibility. My only job is to stay open to it. And I think I can handle that. I think!
One of the best moments in 2011 occurred in a bathroom stall on my birthday. My friend Kaitlin and I walked to an ice cream shop on Magazine street. In the bathroom stall there were all kinds of scribblings and drawings on the wall, but my eyes went straight to a phrase written in green. Someone wrote this: “It gets better. I promise.” I immediately sensed my dad. Of course my dad didn’t write it. It was probably some stoner kid feeling wildly optimistic. But I think it was from him that I saw it. I felt it. And I felt better. I walked out holding on to the energy of the phrase. Because that’s what I felt from it; energy. It’s like the energy in saying “I’m going to die one day” or “I love you” for the first time. It’s wild. But it’s real.
Anyway, I wanted to share the dark times of this year but also the moments of relief. Because it wasn’t only grand gestures, it was also the very small things this year that carried me. Things as small as writing on a bathroom wall. In the moments where I was hanging on by a thread, I would grab hold of anything to get me out. Sometimes the only thing to concentrate on was my breath. So I’d start there. The most important thing to remember is that every moment passes. Today will be tomorrow soon. Tomorrow will be next month, and alas, the year will end. This year began with everything falling apart. The new year begins with everything reassembling itself. That’s the thing about things falling apart; they always get put back together, stronger than they once were.
Health, Happiness, and It Does Gets Better. I promise.
Happy New Year!