Monday, December 30, 2019

A Decade In Review - How the 2010s Changed My Life

I'm sitting here at the end of the decade, thinking about the whole of it. All the ups and downs, and lessons learned.

By far, this was my hardest decade yet. The 2000's were essentially me failing to learn the same lessons over and over until things hit critical mass, and I wound up in therapy at the beginning of 2010. Stepping into my therapist's office turned out to be the single most pivotal moment of my entire life. Life fell into place in a way it hadn't before, and quickly.

Six months after I started therapy, my husband entered my life. We have spent nearly the entire decade together. There have been moments where he has carried me, and moments where I carried him, and, I'll admit, moments where neither of us had the capacity to help the other at all.

Most of the other incredibly pivotal moments of my life occurred in this decade as well, almost at the exact same time. First, is my mom's cancer, and her death from it. And the utterly crippling anxiety, grief and depression that lasted for 3 years afterward. Next, my husband's PTSD and depression that has lasted for years. Then, financial strains as we tried to stay afloat with both of us feeling like we could barely function enough to even shower, let alone earn an income and pay bills. The constant stress we were under made our relationship feel like it was on a trajectory to destruction. And, a loved one of mine battled addiction and impossible grief over their life imploding, and fell into homelessness, and a constant desire to leave this world. They begged me to save them from whatever was happening. I tried. I honestly tried. Every interaction with them left me feeling completely depleted of whatever energy I had, and I knew I couldn't help them because I was drowning, too.

I was dragging my broken soul through the hellfire of the worst challenges I'd ever experienced. Meanwhile, I was also using whatever meager strength I had left to drag my husband, and my other loved one away from the worst things they'd ever experienced, and the endless torment they felt. As a result, I broke under the weight of it all.

Sometimes, I thought I wouldn't survive. I didn't want to die, but I didn't think I would make it. I felt like I was dead or in a constant state of hell. I was so stressed, I couldn't eat much at all. Everything I did eat, made me sick. I lost a lot of weight. I rarely showered. I stopped cleaning my house very often. I had panic attacks daily. I had panic attacks at the grocery store while picking out bananas or eggs and, more than once, left my full cart of groceries in an aisle so I could get out of there. I had panic attacks while driving to work, or going hiking, or watching tv. I had panic attacks before going to sleep because I was scared I would stop breathing in my sleep and die. I regularly had to call in sick for work because I was too anxious to function, or couldn't get out of bed because of depression. I cried more tears than I think I could ever cry again.

Eventually, though, by some miracle, my heart healed. With the help of medication, I was able to come back to life. I was able to let go of my grief that had been compounded by the intense burdens of the past few years, and I healed. My heart stitched back together -- scarred, but whole.

Then, I got the health and strength I needed to carry my husband as he continued to work on recovering from what was dragging him down. I became a different me, a stronger me.

The 2010's were my refiner's fire. I was melted down and shaped into the foundation for the next things to come. The craziest part of all of this? If I had not walked into that therapist's office in March of 2010, I would never have come through all of this. I was not equipped to handle it before. I didn't have the right skillset...before. Therapy directly put me on the path to being strong enough to survive and grow from the absolute worst years of my life to date.

And, today, I can honestly say that while I'm not looking forward to the hard things that are coming in the future, I know I am capable of surviving them.

So, now let's move on to the fun stuff. Here is a list of some of the other highlights from my decade, these are the fun ones... most of them, anyway:
  • Took up running (anyone that knew me as a kid, knows this was huge). Ran some races. Felt like my own hero. 
  • Went to a lot of concerts. Saw Sara Bareilles 3 times, and also Foo Fighters, Neil Diamond, and The Midnight, Kaskade and a bunch of other great shows. 
  • Went to Italy, France, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Idaho, Mexico, California, and Nevada.
  • Got bangs.
  • Dyed my hair red.
  • Gained several new nieces and nephews.
  • Attended evening mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
  • Held a baby alligator, went parasailing, hiked Multnomah Falls, toured a Japanese garden, snorkeled in the Pacific and swam on the back of a sea lion.
  • Buried my mom, 2 of my grandpas, 1 grandma, my husband's grandma & grandpa, and our cat, Rex Manning.
  • Learned how to cut my own hair, and my own bangs (gasp!)
  • Bought 2 houses and am rehabbing one.
  • Turned 30.
  • Started a career in marketing
  • Husband made great money for a while streaming on Twitch
  • Got obsessed with gardening, grew a lot of plants and food, discovered I'm quite a green thumb.
  • Forgave my father, and became friends with him. 
  • Found first gray hairs 
  • Husband almost died from sepsis and pneumonia and was hospitalized for most of a week.
  • I got skin cancer on my face.
  • Found a hiking trail we'd never been on that felt like the PNW and it made us happy.
  • Learned how to shove antibiotics into our old cat’s mouth (this deserves to be here, because that is easily one of the harder things I've had to do.)

  • Started knitting, made a lot of yarn things (the sweater and hat above) and new friends 
  • Started figure skating lessons, learned how to do some basic skating techniques, and stopped falling so much. 
  • Started writing my own piano music.
  • Got eye surgery to fix my double vision that had plagued me for over a decade.
  • Despite all the hardship, had some really great times, and laughed a ton.

I would like to end this post with gratitude. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for being my friend, if you are. Thank you for loving me, if you do. Thank you for supporting me, if you do. And thank you, to my challenges, they've made me a person I didn't know I could be. It hurt like hell. I don't want to go through that ever again, but I am grateful. I am a version of me I didn't see coming, and I don't know if I could part with this me for anything.

Happy New Year, Friends. I hope all the best comes your way in the coming decade.

With love,

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