Right now is the time when people post the “2018 you were great to me, can’t wait for 2019!” and other similar content. There is a lot of posting of achievements, of milestones passed, and the sharing of the bright and shiny offerings life has given many individuals over the last calendar year. These posts are sweet and optimistic, and make the internet a brighter place.
However, I find myself not in that space. 2018 was not bright and cheery for me or for my family a huge portion of the time. 2018 was a dark, powerful storm of emotions- the kind that knot up your gut, make your throat go dry, and cause your eyes to feel like they are going to burst with all the feelings you are trying to keep inside. The feeling of treading ice cold water with your nose barely above the surface, struggling to get the breaths in that you need to keep fighting… to simply keep flailing hopelessly in the depths waiting for relief.
I am only speaking from my own personal point of view of the year, because that alone is my story to tell. I am not speaking for sympathy, or from a place of negativity. When I was going through this terrible season of my life, I looked high and low for people who could even somewhat understand what I was going through, which in itself is an extremely hard resource to find. Vulnerable stories of people in their deepest valley are impossible to locate. And I know from experience, when you are trying to climb out of that hole, sometimes you just need someone to relate to. I hope that my words may give relief to those that are seeking it.
Following my husband’s accident, I felt completely and totally lost. The intense pain that he endures day to day, month after month, slowly slices deeper and deeper into my own heart. Every moan, every wince, every single ache he felt, it breaks my soul into a million pieces. Seeing the person you love most in the entire world being brought down by unbearable pain, is completely unimaginable to people who have never had to endure it. I would have done, and still would, take all that pain from him and put it on myself. But there is nothing you can do but be there and support them.
I had lost the control that I so desperately seek in my daily life, and put the future of my husband and myself in the hands of the skilled healthcare workers that were trying to make him whole again. That loss of power in your future and the not knowing of how you are going to get through to the next stages of your life – it smothers you.
You can’t make your loved one feel better, and you can’t make it all go away. You take each day a slow, staggering step at a time.
Every person who knew of the accident would constantly ask “How is your husband doing?”. Sometimes, rarely, I would get asked “Are you okay?”. How do you answer that…? They don’t want to know the real answer. They don’t want to hear the harsh realities of your spouse’s recovery, or how you really, truly feel. So you put on your well-rehearsed fake smile, and say “He’s slowly getting better.” Or in the latter case “I am doing fine, thanks.”.
My mental health and self-care took an unimaginable nose dive following his accident. I fell into a depression so deep, so twisted and awful, that it physically hurt me to smile. Talking to anyone about even the most mundane of subjects, made my chest tighten up and made me shake from the anxiety that never went away. Every time my phone rang, my email would ping, a text message would come in, my eyes would threaten tears. When I had to leave him to go back to my job, I would replay the same horrible scenarios in my head all day long of him getting hurt at home when I wasn’t there to help him. People would, and still do, say unbelievably condescending things like “It could have been so much worse”, “Just be thankful he’s okay”, “He will get better eventually”. And it’s not entirely their fault, they don’t understand what it is like to be on the front lines of a trauma like that.
Back then, I genuinely did not have hope that life would get better. I was sinking deeper and deeper, being drug by the ankles into a depression that seemed endless. Until very slowly, I felt the vise of these feelings slowly begin to loosen.
I still cannot discuss this time in my life without tearing up, without my palms beginning to sweat and my hands beginning to shake. But, it is getting easier to talk to the people who have been by my side as a crutch throughout this year.
Now more than ever before, I have begun to see the light. It is faint, and it is just barely peeking through the stormy clouds, but by golly it is there. Every milestone he has hit in his recovery, the light gets brighter. Every meaningful cuddle with my puppers, the light begins to warm. Every professional milestone I have hit in my job, the glow shimmers. Every time I reach a new goal in my new photography business, the light pushes the clouds over just a smidge.
The most important thing I have realized this year is that my marriage with the person I love more than the entire moon and all its stars, is beyond rock solid. We are unbreakable. We can handle literally anything the universe throws at us, while still standing hand in hand. For this insurmountable test of our loyalty and love for each other, I am very thankful.
I have also realized that my own strength has no bounds whatsoever. Holding that entire situation on my back and slowly dragging my feet to get us back onto stable grounds, has made me a stronger person. I didn’t know I mentally had the capacity to handle it, I had no idea. But now, I know I can handle anything.
Another huge realization for me, was what is truly important in my life. I have gotten almost annoying by how much I tell everyone I love how much I do… literally all of the time. I spend my time doing what I love, with who I love. I don’t feel the need to “put up” with anything if it doesn’t give me joy or make me a better person, so I simply no longer tolerate it. Time is a precious commodity, and it should be spent with those that truly appreciate yours.
2018 – Sometimes, you truly were the worst. But you were also a year of healing, of hope, of personal growth, of new beginnings and happy endings.
I have so much hope that making it through this season of my life will allow me to grow into a person that I never knew I needed to be. I hope to be the strength others seek, more empathetic and kind to all who live, and to live my life in a positive light. These are not resolutions, or temporary ‘fixes’ for the new year to come. This is the new me.
“Mountain tops are glorious, but it’s in the valleys where you grow”