Whoa! When did that happen?!

How did I let two months slip away from me?  Is anyone even reading this thing still?

Yesterday, November 18th, marked one year since I moved out of the apartment I shared with my then-husband, so I was feeling a burst of nostalgia and that urge to look back and see what’s changed, what I’ve accomplished in the last year.  It’s not an anniversary I ever thought I wanted to commemorate, but it’s one that I’m glad that I have.  Because when I look back on the past year, I see…a lot of joy, a lot of growing, a lot of learning.  I hadn’t lived by myself or with roommates other than David since 2009, and that’s quite a long time.  But I learned that I am still financially independent, I’m doing well, and even though I still don’t sleep alone as well as I did when there was someone else there, I sleep just fine.  I have no regrets about my conduct or my behavior in the past year.  I think I’ve done all right for myself, for the most part.

So what’s happening in the life of me?

School: I have 75.25 pages completed in a rough draft of my senior thesis.  I originally had hope that it would be completed by Christmas, but I see now that this was a ridiculous goal.  Although I technically am ahead of schedule (with two and a half completed chapters of four), my professor does not think that the editing process will be complete before the spring.  There are two pieces of good news that came along with this.  The first being, I don’t have to defend my thesis (which is AMAZING), and the second being that Dr. LW promised me that, if I complete all four chapters by December 20th, she won’t give me any work to do over Christmas vacation.  Which means FOUR glorious weeks off.  I can’t even imagine.  I may just be inebriated for most of it.
Dating: Well, I’ve gone on a couple of dates.  None of them really panned out.  That’s okay.  I’m awfully freakin’ busy.  The right guy will come along eventually.  Right now I’m not trying to push anything.
Writing: Would you believe that, on top of my already crazy thesis writing, I’ve undertaken the task of writing fiction?  I have!  My friend Jess and I pulled out the notes we had on a series we’d thought of writing back in 2007, dusted them off, and rebooted the whole thing.  And would you believe that the rough drafts of the first TWO books are finished?  There will eventually be five, but I’m really surprised (and psyched) that they’ve been coming along as well as they have!  I’m also doing NaNoWriMo (because I am completely, utterly insane) and I’m already at over 43,000 words with over two weeks to go.  I’m a writing machine, guys.
Holidays: I am so, so psyched for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  Last year’s holidays were rough at best, between the separation still being fresh and the question of divorce still up in the air.  This year, there’s nothing standing in the way of me and a wonderful holiday.  I couldn’t be more excited.  Plans are underway to decorate the apartment; Sam inherited a fake tree from one of her friends and I have to get my ornaments and creche from David’s basement.  I even managed to find Advent candles, so now I just need to pull together a wreath.  As for Christmas shopping?  I’ve barely started.  Not even thinking about it right now, guys.  Not even a blip on the radar.  I just paid my credit card bill (almost in full — the rest will come on Friday) and then I can use it for holiday shopping or emergencies if need be.   The only person who is “set” (as in, I know what I’m getting for him and just haven’t bought it yet) is my father.  Everyone else?  Well, it’ll come in time.  Always does.
I leave you with this hilarious photo from Halloween.  That’s me and Drea in the foreground.  Can you spot Jess?
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When night falls on me, I’ll not close my eyes (car accident PTSD-PSA)

August 27, 2005

I can sum it up in one sentence — my life changed forever.  It was one day, one decision, one mistake.  I got in that car.  By rights, I should never have done it.  I had my own car, but why waste the gas when I could catch a ride with my mother?  She’d drive me back later.  Except I never went back later.  I ended my evening with a trip to Hartford Hospital on LifeStar.  The hours, minutes, seconds of that evening are a blur.  There are moments, lost in time, that I’ll never get back.  Most of them are moments I never want to have back.

To nearly die is such a surreal thing.  At the time, in my head, there was never any question that I was going to live.  There was never even a second where I was lying there and thought “I might not live through this.”  It took me half an hour just to wrap my brain around what had happened to me.   The first time I remember realizing what had happened to me — “I was just in a really bad car accident” — was when I was being carried off the helicopter and into the emergency room.  Before that, I mostly felt heavy.  Tired.  Searing pain on the right side of my body.  I didn’t even realize until a few days later that my face was messed-up.  I didn’t even notice the pain in my cheekbone, near my right eye.  My biggest terror, the only one I voiced, was when they were prying the door from out of my side, and I thought that I was paralyzed because I couldn’t move.  As soon as I knew I wasn’t, I calmed down a bit.  I didn’t realize how bad the accident was until my aunt, coming to visit me in the hospital after taking my mom to sign over her totaled car, said to me “I think you’re lucky to be alive.”  Or, until months later, when I saw the photos of the car itself.  What was left of it.

A lot of people thought that the worst part was the injuries, the hospital visit, the rehabilitation, the physical therapy.  And I’m not going to lie and say those things didn’t suck.  They did.  A lot.  I would never, ever want to go back and revisit those moments of my life.  But the hardest part came after I got better.  When I was home again, in my apartment, and everything was the same, except for in my head.

Me – Autumn 2005, two months after the accident.  If you look carefully, you can see a little bit of “road burn” from the crash in my right cheek, hidden by my hair.

Car accidents aren’t usually the first thing that someone thinks of when they hear the words “post-traumatic stress disorder”.  Most of the time, we think of veterans hitting the deck, or rape victims, or those who were horribly abused in childhood.  But 10% of motor vehicle accident survivors will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the fact — and that is only the number of people who seek a diagnosis.  Motor vehicle-related PTSD may effect anywhere from 3.5 to 7 million people in the United States.  It is more prevalent in our country than we may be aware.

I can speak only for myself.  I spent three years in hell.  From 2005 to 2008, my life went off the rails.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I had days where I would walk to my door, to try and leave my apartment, and I would go into a panic attack just reaching for the doorknob.  I stayed up too late.  I drank more than I should have.  I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me.  I refused to seek counseling.  I refused to get medicated.  I insisted I could handle everything — a full time job and graduate school.  I got fired from one job and laid off from another.  My GPA tanked.  Worst of all — I lost who I was.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that the person I had been, before August 27, 2005, died in that car.  The EMTs pulled out an entirely different person, and I didn’t know how to find myself again.

Over the last five years, I’ve clawed my way out.  It was not easy.  I am not proud of the person that I had become.  It was an uphill climb, with several steps back before I could step forward.  I had to drop out of school.  I had to go through four different brands of pills before I hit on the one that was right for me.  I had to concede and commit to counseling.  More than anything, I had to really self-reflect, to look at the person I had become since the car accident, and say that yes, it was different; no, it couldn’t be the same.  But it could be better.  I could be better.  I just had to accept that I maybe couldn’t do it on my own.

I don’t view it as a personal victory.  It wasn’t about winning or losing; it was about salvation.  I couldn’t go on the way I lived from 2005-2008.  I was losing every piece of myself, everything that made me a likeable person, a good friend, a loving daughter, a caring sister.  There was only one way my life was going if I continued on that path.  It took me three years to figure out that this wasn’t the way I wanted to be.  I had to take back my life.

Now, eight years later, I can look back and say that I am certainly not perfect.  I am probably not where I would have been, if I had decided not to get in that car that Saturday evening.  But I can look in the mirror and say, I’ve got this.  I’ve been through it, and I handled it, and now I’m doing okay.  I wish that I could have become somebody that I liked, without those three years of disorder and chaos, but…that’s not how the world works sometimes.

If there was anything that I could say that is good from all of this, it’s…yes.  It sucks.  It hurts.  But you can get through it.  You can pick up the pieces and be who you were again.  Get help.  Put your pride in your pocket if need be.  Your health is more important.  Your life is more important.  Your relationships with your family and friends are more important.  It’s going to be tough, and yes, sometimes, it is going to hurt.  But God, once you get over the hump, once you get to the top of the mountain and you can look down and see how far you’ve climbed…the view is truly spectacular.  

And it’s all worth it.  Every second.

Me today – Summer 2013. First day of my last year of grad school.

 

The following link is a great resource for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder of any kind:  Helpguide.org.

 

 

Confessions of a Neophyte Historian

I am more excited about the prospect of working towards my Ph.D. than I am about doing research for the M.A. that I still haven’t obtained.

This might be a problem.

My life, summed up in two things.  My adorable “perpetual kitten” Tabitha (Tabby), and my thesis prospectus (submission two of three, there were still edits remaining after this).

It is so hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that today marks the 150th anniversary of Pickett’s Charge.  I am so sad that I wasn’t able to financially or physically swing attendance at the 150th anniversary re-enactment down in Pennsylvania.  I imagine that it must have been a sight to behold.  I toy with the idea of making it down there for the 175th anniversary, but holy shit, I will be 54 years old then.  Damn.

Apparently there was even a rainbow there this week.  How beautiful.

Photo courtesy of mike-generallyspeaking on Tumblr

History is just so raw, crippling, stark, and yet magnificently beautiful , all at once.  This is our heritage. 

If you think it has nothing to do with you, because you were born almost 150 years later, you could not be more wrong.

An absolution

It’s night.  I got through it.  We got through it.

We went to counseling, and we got through that, too.  We talked about the future, where we’re going, what we’re doing.  So much needs to be accomplished.  So much is still undecided.

And then we went to dinner.  Over dessert (vanilla bean creme brulee, delicious), I told David my comfort in everything:

Whatever happens, this will be our toughest anniversary.  One year from now…it will all be different…one way or another.

Remember, remember…

Today is our 2nd anniversary.   David and I got married two years ago this evening.

I guess one’s anniversary would be easier in almost every other situation than the one we’re in right now.  We’re not happily married, so it’s weird to celebrate it.  None of our friends are saying anything to us, I asked my mother to not send us a card or commemorate it in any way.  If we were divorced, I suppose, this would be as good a night as any to invite my girlfriends over to watch movies and knit, anything to avoid getting drunk by myself and crying over my wedding album (not that I do that anyway).

But we’re not even technically separated yet.  The house closing, which was originally set for tomorrow, November 6th, has been postponed indefinitely.  My aunt can’t move until the house closing goes through, therefore, I can’t move until she moves.  I found that out on Saturday, after going shopping for some kitchenwares that I needed replacing, and a TV set that is vastly too big for my needs (but the 32″ was on sale for the same price as the 26″, and David pointed out “Just imagine how ‘The Tudors’ will look on a screen that big!”  Considering that we’re splitting, he knows me too damn well).

And I cried on Saturday, not because I am miserable living with my husband, not because we hate each other (we don’t), but because my life is going nowhere right now.  Both of us are in a sort of awful, awkward limbo, loving each other but knowing our marriage is going nowhere, wondering what the best course of action is, knowing we certainly can’t make a split official when we are still living under the same roof.  I feel as if the days and weeks are ticking by, each day moving me closer towards my 30th birthday, still stuck in this horrible stagnation.  As much as I fear and dread the idea of being by myself, making this split final and official, I fear this terrible sort of half-marriage so much more.  Sometimes I feel like this is the state my life is going to be in forever.  That is…hard.  Again, so trite.  It sounds so incredibly trite.  “This is hard.”  Such a little sentence — a little too simple — but it explains everything.

I’m at work, and I don’t want to cry at my desk, because my makeup is done and nothing looks worse than smeared makeup all over your face.  And at least my boss is away this week, and nobody here remembers that it would have been my second anniversary, and for that I’m so grateful, because the explanations are awkward and hurt.  And every time I think I am done crying and mourning the loss of what was, I feel another stab to the stomach, some fresh pain that I hadn’t considered before.

How does one date go from the happiest day of your life, to one that causes you the most pain?

One indifferent husband.  One brokenhearted wife.

 

Today I will get through work as though it is any other day.  After work we will go to marriage counseling (separation counseling, whatever you want to call it), and try to work out how we are feeling, and that is where I will probably cry, even though I’ve vowed not to cry in front of David anymore, because I feel terrible when I’m in pain and he’s not).  And then we will go out to dinner, not to celebrate our anniversary, but just to try and make ourselves happy, and try not to remember that, two years ago, we were floating, so happy, so in love, so ready for the future, and wonder where the hell it all went wrong.