Putting Myself Back Together
The last year and a half of life chewed me up and spit me out in a cruel way. Without a doubt, losing my grandma was a central part of that. She was more than just a grandparent, she was like a second mom and someone who emulated the kind of woman I hope to be as I grow older. When you lose that beacon of light, it’s easy to lose sight of the shore. And, in the midst of my grief, I lost sight of myself. I can’t pinpoint when or how it happened, but it was a slow unraveling. After my grandma died, I tried to throw myself back into my normal life. It worked, or so I thought, until it didn’t.
It’s not that I didn’t acknowledge my grief or sadness. I was devastated. But, I thought I could jump back into normalcy and the dark feelings would fade in time. They didn’t. And, the more I tried to force life, the further I strayed. The things that once brought me joy felt like the most dreaded chores. I slogged through runs that ended in tears because I couldn’t run even three miles any more. Picking up a book felt like a homework assignment reading a classic novel I didn’t understand but still had to coherent report. Some days, the simple act of getting out of bed was a chore. I’d have weekends where I’d get home from work on Friday night and not leave my apartment again until Monday morning. I drank more than I ever had. Nowhere near to the point that it was a problem, but I certainly used alcohol as a coping mechanism. In hindsight, I have no doubts I was struggling with some level of depression.
I went virtually silent here because I didn’t have a whole lot to say. I certainly wasn’t living a life that felt worth writing about. In truth, most days, I wanted to write but words remained elusive. Even the pages of my private journal remained largely blank as I’d sit with pen to paper, unable to put words to what I was experiencing. A writer by nature, this felt so foreign. Although I did post regularly on Instagram, it often felt inauthentic. I wanted to appear okay and that I was living this great life. I wanted to believe that to be true. The more I faced this internal struggle, the more I withdrew from myself and from the world.
A Lot Broke Last Year
Back in February, Stacy London (of What Not to Wear fame) wrote an article on Refinery29 that really resonated with me. One sentiment in particular really struck a chord:
“Today, though, there is a new year ahead of me…A lot broke last year. And from all that brokenness, there is no other choice but to affirm life. It means picking up the pieces of mine off the floor. There are so many shards, sometimes I feel like it will be impossible to put them all back together. Being broken doesn’t presuppose you can put yourself back together just as you were. It means there will be cracks and wounds, battlecries of a life lived and mistakes made. We move forward, and everything changes. Nothing is static, including me.”
These words lingered in the back of my mind for the last few months. While Stacy wrote these words after a very different struggle, the words still resonate. What I’m still realizing and understanding is that I can’t go back to who I was before my grandma’s death. That experience broke me and I can’t ever be the version of me I was before April 8, 2017. I thought I could. I thought I needed to be, that somehow, that would make things okay again.
Putting Myself Back Together
So, after over a year of drifting from the proverbial shore, over the last couple months I started feeling like the shoreline is in reach again. What I finally understand is that not only did the last year change me, more importantly, that’s not a bad thing. Grief is not an easy process as it is, but one made exponentially harder when you aren’t willing to acknowledge your feelings and truly work through them. I know I should have asked for help, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit just how much I was struggling. Ego and pride are dangerous and they were beating their drums loudly in my life during this season.
Today, I feel like I am in a place where I am finally, truly picking up the pieces. I’m reaching for foods that nourish me and don’t feel like I need to have a drink with dinner every night. I’m lacing up my running shoes and rolling out my yoga mat not out of obligation, but out of desire. I find myself reaching for books once again, wanting to get lost in the fictional worlds of novels and learn about history or nutrition and grow from personal development. I’m buying tickets to events that will bring me joy like baseball games and a Taylor Swift concert. I’m wading back into a life worth living and it feels beautiful. It’s not easy and it’s far from a linear process. Some days, I still feel like a broken mess and find myself crying in the shower. The difference is that now I’m okay with those tears and the sadness. The good days are starting to outnumber the bad, and that feels encouraging.
There are cracks and I still feel a little broken. But, I want those battlecries of a life lived. Most days over the last fourteen months, I was simply existing. Going through the motions is not living. But, I know that nothing would make my grandma more proud than for me to pick up the pieces and start living again. So, that’s what I’m doing.