This year, this decade.

This is a Really Real “Life in Review” Post.

It’s the end of a year.

I figured, just like so many people do, I’d reflect on the past year of my life.  Think about my accomplishments and what I’d like to take with me into next year.

This year I started giving myself permission to take up space.  Physically, verbally, emotionally. I realized that I was allowed the space that I need. Some of the time I was able to hold the mindset that everyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off. I want to get better at that mindset next year and stop trying to shrink myself to suit others.

This year I survived one of my more intense series of suicidal thoughts. I got myself help. I saw that I have a huge community of people who support me, both virtually and locally. I want to be better connected with that community.

I learned that even though I feel like I’m outside of a group, it doesn’t mean I actually am.

I found joy in sending snail mail. Making well over 100 cards in the past 3 months has been so wonderful, and even better was knowing that it put a smile on someone’s face. I want to keep going, and maybe start selling my work.

I think one of the biggest things I learned this year is that it’s okay for things to be stable. It’s not the calm before the storm, it’s just the calm, and life can really be this way without worrying about what comes next. I want to carry comfort with stability going forward.

I learned to live in the moment. That fully accepting what is happening is the first step to finding solutions. Fighting against a problem only takes energy away from solving it. I learned that not being okay, is perfectly okay. That as long as you don’t make a problem worse, you’re doing the right things – you can always build from there.  I learned that it’s okay to ask for what I need, that it doesn’t always mean fighting.

It’s the end of a year.  One of the better years of my life.

It’s the end of a decade.

It’s hard to wrap up the past decade because there’s a giant split down the middle.  The before and the after.

In the before, there was a lot of love, and a lot of trauma, and a lot of resilience, and a lot of struggle.

In the after there’s a lot of growth, a lot of falling (metaphorically and physically), a lot of healing, and a lot of pain.

It’s the end of a decade. The hardest in my life.

I wrote a big long thing trying to list out the good and the bad of the last decade, but honestly, that’s not all that helpful.  The past decade (and the ones before that) got me to where I am now, and now is what matters.

Now is where I want to spend my time.

One case of blah, please.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve sat here staring at the blank screen for the last 3 minutes. I feel like I need to write, but the words don’t want to come out.

I stand in the kitchen staring at the dishes in the sink, pots soaking full of water on the stove, and general clutter all over the counters. I feel like I need to clean, but my body just doesn’t want to move.

I stare at the shower.

I nap instead.

I hate this time of year.  Cold and dreary and even on the warmer days I can’t find the will to leave the house. I’m trying to get out every day. I push myself some days and I make it.  I push myself other days, and I fail.

Walking through mud. Swimming through fog. Climbing uphill.

And the scary thing is, spring is notoriously my worst time of year, so it’s not like I even have that to look forward to. It is often worse, more suicidal, more extreme. Somehow it still remains my favorite time of year though, so there’s that.

This is just a case of the blahs.

I live in my pajamas. Putting them back on as soon as I walk through the door. I know that it’s supremely unhelpful to live in pajamas all of the time. But my clothes feel too suffocating. They make me want to crawl out of my skin.

This isn’t that bad, really. It could definitely be worse, really. But it’s still uncomfortable. It’s still sub par. It’s still worse than I’d like.

I just keep pushing. Making myself start projects that I have no interest in. Keeping myself from staring at Facebook for hours upon hours.

And the strange thing is, I have moments where I feel like I’m getting hypomanic. Doing all the things, feeling like I have enough energy to run a marathon, talking to all of the people online.

And I still don’t want to leave the house.

I miss true hypomania. I miss the euphoria. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. Which is probably a good thing.

But I feel like experiencing some “up” would help offset this blahs.

I seem to only swing in a downward direction now.

I guess that’s a good thing. It’s better than swinging wildly all of the time.

I’d like to return these items though. This case of the blahs can go back to sender.

 

Wayback machine.

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Lots of things have been taking me back lately.

A friend who recently lost her husband. Someone else who is facing homelessness and looking at their options. Spotify giving me a list of music from the last 10 years. Even raising a kitten takes me back to a time in my life before.

My life is split into before and after in so many ways.  Not only did Parker die on that day in 2016, but the person I was died at the same time. It seems like my life has done a radical 180 since she died.  No more traumas, no major crisis (except the internal, mental health kind), no more catastrophes.

It seems unfair that she missed this. But I’m not sure this would have happened if she hadn’t died. And it’s not like I can change any of it anyway.

But things have been taking me back.

I’ve been reliving the emotions, with some distance put between me and the pain. I can view yesterdays tragedies with today’s knowledge. At times I feel like I’m stuck in my history again, except I know I’ll make it out alive.

I smell smoke and feel like I’m running out of a house on fire.

A sleeping pet or person doesn’t react to a sound and I feel like I’m going to face death again.

I pay a bill late and remember the stress of shut off notices month after month, struggling to stay one step ahead of a dark house.

Earlier this month I went to a Christmas Party thrown by Healthcare for the Homeless. It was held in the same building as the homeless shelter. Lots of the residents attended. It was the same shelter I spent months in, however they’re in a new building now (which made it a bit easier).

I remember being there. I remember being that person.

So many things that are reminding me of where I’ve been.

What I’ve survived.

What I’ve overcome.

But feeling that fear again, deep into my bones, is one of the harder things about trauma. I never get to fully escape it I never get to lock it up and put it away.

It’s as much a part of me as widowhood is.

Christmas Eve

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

It’s now Christmas Eve.

Being a few years out from the year of firsts makes things easier, but they still aren’t easy.

I’m living a life I was never meant to have. I’m celebrating holidays I was never meant to celebrate without her. I’m making new traditions that don’t include her.

But her memory is still here, in everything I do.

Holidays, special events, things that are out of the ordinary, will bring her memory into full focus.

I miss her.

When I wake up in the morning, I’ll make a turkey, something I did almost every year, no matter how broke we were. I’ll make the sweet potato souffle that I learned from her mom, one of her favorite things to have each year . . and it became one of my favorites too.

This time of year is hard for me anyway, and then adding the layer of grief, just makes it a little harder.

Grief does that.

What would she have wanted for Christmas this year? Would I have had the money to get it for her?

I can’t remember what I got her the last year she was alive.

I can’t remember what we did for Christmas that year.

So many little memories that just keep fading.

The fear doesn’t fade though.

I made a noise in the bedroom this morning and Wonder Woman didn’t stir. It scared me. I stood perfectly still and made sure I could still see the rise and fall of her chest.

I’m living a life I never thought I would live.

I’m afraid of going through that again.

I’m happy with this life. Even with the widowhood that’s woven through the fabric of everything I do, I’m happy with the life I’m living.

But I miss her.

And I wonder.

What if?

Who would she be?

Who would I be?

I don’t have some grand point to this post, no final point that I was leading up to.

I just miss her.

Another holiday in my new normal.  No matter how great this new normal is, there will always be that Parker shaped hole that nothing will ever fill.

But, I’ll keep living life around it.

Pushing forward.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I spent most of last night coming up with excuses to stay home today.

I’m supposed to be going to a DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) meeting.  I’m supposed to go to the gym for the first time in who knows how long.

But last night I was already looking for excuses.

I woke up at 5am, couldn’t sleep anymore, and decided that I needed to do the menu planning and grocery shopping I haven’t done in weeks.  We’ve been surviving off of what I could pull together out of the kitchen, and the occasional quick run into a store.  I don’t really want to, but it’s very much needed.

I still don’t want to go to support group or the gym.  Both of them seem like a kind of work I just don’t want to deal with right now.

But I will go.

Excuses are easy, the real self care comes in pushing to do the things I don’t want to do.

Pushing myself to leave the house.

Pushing myself to get involved in stuff when nothing is appealing.

Pushing myself to do the dishes and clean the house.

Pushing myself to function.

Pushing through the depression.

And the thing is, the depression doesn’t even seem all that bad.  I just want to hibernate and sleep. It’s cold out, it’s dark, it’s crowded everywhere I go.

I’d rather sit home with an adorable little kitten sleeping on my chest.

But, I’ll push myself forward.

Again,

and again,

and again.

Until this passes.

 

Routine

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m not one for routine.

At least, not one that I stick with.

Sometimes, when I wake up early, my morning routine is to take the pupper out, feed her, do the dishes from the day before, start dinner if it’s a crock-pot day or plan dinner if it’s not, make and peel hard boiled eggs once a week to feed the dog and ourselves.

It’s my quiet time with just the music and my repetitive process. Doing dishes and peeling eggs are both meditative for me.

But now there’s an addition to my routine.  We have the kitten.

So now I feed Siah first, and then Athena gets her wet kitten food.

And then Athena wants cuddle time.  She climbs from my desk to my leg, staring at me until I pick her up and let her curl up on my chest.

I’ll be sad when she stops fitting there.

She lays on my chest while I check the mail and Facebook, quietly purring until she falls asleep.  She typically wants to lay there for an hour or so, unless I have to move her first.

It’s a welcome addition to the routine.  Most of the day she prefers to sleep on the sofa, curled up next to whoever is sitting there.  When no one is on the sofa, she has some hiding spot to sleep, we haven’t figured out where yet (maybe under/in the sofa).

Having a kitten has been good for my mental health.  Having a cuddly kitten is even better.

The animals cause me to have a mini routine even when I don’t follow through with the rest of it.

And I don’t mind one bit.  Most of the time.

I still get mad.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I still get really, fucking, angry sometimes.

The rage building up over the stupidest things.

The fucking Tupperware cabinet.

That, fucking, Tupperware cabinet.

Some back story here.  Back when Parker was alive I physically couldn’t get down on the ground (or I wouldn’t get back up) and therefore it was almost impossible for me to organize the Tupperware cabinet.  I asked Kidlet and Parker to keep up with it. They didn’t.

I did the dishes a lot of the time (from what my memory recalls at least) and I’d go to put Tupperware away and it would all fall out at me, and I’d throw a temper tantrum.

I’m sure most of you have a cabinet like that. At least I hope it’s not just me.

Parker and I used to play video games and use voice chat to talk to our friends, and one day she was on the group chat, and I was putting away dishes, and that fucking cabinet attacked me.

And I went off.

Throwing things, screaming, yelling, cussing, generally acting ridiculous.

And our friends heard most of it.

Whoops.

For at least 3 years after that they would send me every damn Tupperware meme they could find.  They were even making their own memes to send me.  They would yell “fucking Tupperware” whenever they died in game.  It was the biggest (most embarrassing) joke we had in that guild, for a really long time. I still have one friend from that group who sends me a meme once a year or so.

Fast forward to today.

I can get on the floor to organize the Tupperware cabinet, but I be damned if I feel like doing it.

So today the Tupperware attacked me.

A few things had happened before it (can’t remember what) and I was just grumpy.

But grumpy turned to Really Really Pissed.

I may have cussed a little.  I may have repeatedly thrown lids and containers back into that cabinet with something falling back out at me a few times.  I may have slammed the door shut.

But it lasted all of 30 seconds.

I’m sad that I reacted that way, but I’m glad it’s not the norm anymore, and I’m glad it doesn’t last like it used to.

I’m glad I don’t treat people like that anymore.

I’ll apologize to Wonder Woman when she gets home, not because I directed anything at her, but because it wasn’t right for me to put that sort of anger and tension in a space we share.

Anger is fine, frustration is fine, but throwing and slamming shit isn’t fine.

I’m a lot better than I used to be. I have a lot of skills that I didn’t have then and generally, less frustration in my life overall.

I think I’m going to go organize that cabinet now.