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.

 

 

Little Victories, Week Twenty-Three (with bonus Wildfire recap)

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week MOST weeks (let’s not even kid ourselves anymore), for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

I really should have come in here after Wildfire and do a proper recap, because it was an extraordinary trip that really lit me up (pun intended) and left me feeling fantastic.  I definitely suffered the “post-WF crash” after coming home (I didn’t start feeling like myself until around Thursday), but all in all, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to (hopefully) do it all over again in August (if I get a ticket! — we’ll find out on June 23rd)!

I talked a really big talk about being so assured that David and I would be fine going to Wildfire together, but NOT together (as in, hanging with the same people, but not actually camping together or being together at all).  The first night, my anxiety was almost crippling.  BUT.  I pushed through it, and we had an amazing time.  All of us.  There was no drama, there were no issues.  It was truly wonderful.  I’m so glad that we were able to put all of that baggage aside, so that we each could have a kickass weekend.

– I learned how to do fire staff at Wildfire.  I took four classes, I was kickass in two of them, and managed to keep my head above water in the last two.  I also did an impromptu affinity class with David and my friends Lyndsey and Matt, on Sunday, just playing around and practicing different tricks.  It was a lot of fun.  I lit up on both Saturday and Sunday evenings (Friday evening I did fans), and even though it was terrifying, spinning fire is one of the greatest natural highs you will ever get.  It’s like playing Prometheus or something.

 

 

Unfortunately, on Saturday night, while attempting a round-the-world with my brand new sexy staff, I accidentally clocked myself in the back of the head.  No harm done, but I did (briefly) catch my hair on fire.  I had a safety (David) who put the flames out instantly, before I even realized my bun was on fire.  The smell of burning hair really shook me up WAY more than the fact that dear God I just lit my hair on fire.  Lesson here, kids — if you have long hair, spray it down well with water before you spin fire.  Or just do what I did when I got home:

And cut it all off!

It was high time.  I had singed hair in the back, my hair had gotten seriously long (people were commenting on it) and because I can’t straighten it in the summer, I said “fuck it” and cropped it.  I. LOVE. IT.  It takes me about five minutes to get my hair styled in the morning.  No more messing with a straightening iron or tons of brushing or binding up when it gets too frizzy.  Love it.

– Set up my appointment to discuss the THIRD round of edits to my thesis prospectus, for next week.  Argh.  If the prospectus itself needs three edits (at least, who knows if it will need more?), what’s going to happen when we got to the actual thesis?  Can’t think about it, won’t be able to cope.

– This doesn’t TECHNICALLY count as a “little victory” for this week, but last week I ran C25K Week Five, Day 2…and did it the first try!  I can now run for 8 minutes at a stretch, no sweat!  (Well, okay, there was a lot of sweat, but I DID IT!)  Because I took a week off of running due to Wildfire and a particularly glorious sunburn (that made bra-wearing impossible), I’m going to dip back down to C25K Week Five, Day 1 today, and see where that takes me.  I made up my mind to not try and put a time limit on how fast I complete this, so I’m okay with holding back a little bit.

– Crazy Bruce has decided that after three years of weekly therapy sessions, I have finally “graduated” to bi-weekly sessions.  Instead of going every Wednesday, I will go every other Wednesday.  I was a little nervous at this idea, but he pointed out that, had the crap with my separation and divorce not happened, I would have reached this point a long time ago, since the reason why I first started seeing him (my anxiety and panic attacks) were almost entirely a thing of the past.  So rather than be nervous, I’m pretty proud of it.

PLANS FOR THIS WEEKEND!  My friend Jess is having a Tastefully Simple party tomorrow (really more a get together than anything) and we’re going over there tonight to help make up the samples.  Tomorrow: gym again (with any luck) and then cleaning the apartment, Jess’s party, and then off to Joe and Lyndsey’s for a spin jam (if the weather cooperates) or Cards Against Humanity (if it doesn’t).  Sunday I’m going to Mass at the retreat center with my father (it’s a once-a-year occurrence), and then…who knows?  Hopefully relaxing at some point.  Knitting has completely fallen off the radar in favor of fire spinning.  I really should try to get back into that…before throwing myself headlong into yet another round of prospectus rewrites.

Little Victories, Week Seventeen

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

– Finished the rough draft of my Master’s thesis prospectus!  Twenty-two pages, and granted, it’s a rough draft, but it’s DONE.  And done earlier than my professor expected it to be.  Dr. LW was a little surprised, but seemed pleased, when I put it on her desk.  I should get the suggestions for revision sometime within the next few days.  Fingers crossed!

– Finished my term paper for Dr. S’s class.  Clocking in at a grand total of 28 pages (counting the title page and bibliography, so really only 26 pages of writing), it definitely was the major hump of the semester.  But it’s finished now, and there are only two papers (and the revisions for my prospectus) left!  So it looks like the semester is all downhill from here.  Let’s hope!

– Began Couch to 5K last week.
Friday, April 19 – Week 1, Day 1
Saturday, April 20 – Week 1, Day 2
Monday, April 22 – Week 1, Day 3
Wednesday, April 24 – Week 2, Day 1

And I feel really good about it!  I had to get some new sneakers because my old ones (purchased in 2009) were shot to hell.  I was going to just grab a cheap pair at Bob’s Stores, but when I went there, I wasn’t totally satisfied with the comfort of the less expensive shoes.  Then I slipped on a pair of the $49 Asics…and you know that moment that women claim to have when they buy their perfect wedding dress?  I had that moment with those shoes.  They were just right.  I didn’t mind paying the extra.  They were pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  I wore them all afternoon and evening last night, so hopefully when I hit the gym this afternoon for Week 2, Day 2, they’ll be somewhat broken in.  (I also bought a sports bra.  It was completely necessary.  My 38 DDD girls were not comfortable running in underwire)

– Had my last counseling session with D and DS.  I have to say it was bittersweet.  I will miss DS, but I don’t think I’ll miss the sessions, the rawness, the pain.  We are two months and two weeks away from our divorce date, and I think we’re good from here on out.

– Started getting my preliminary plans in place for the move, which will hopefully take place next weekend, May 4-5!  I can’t wait!

I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m one week away from moving, two weeks away from the end of the semester, and five weeks away from Wildfire!  I just…I can’t wrap my brain around it.  Seriously excited on a lot of fronts.  There are so many good things coming up right now, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the excitement.

Have a wonderful weekend!  My plans, you ask?  Gym this afternoon, then Knit Night at Drea’s.  Tomorrow…calling my grandparents in Florida, cleaning my apartment, tackling those two papers!  Sunday, Ikea with Samantha, and then up to Massachusetts for Tina’s Partylite/Cinco de Mayo party.  I can’t wait.  This weekend’s going to be a blast.

I said last night on Facebook, something that I haven’t felt was true up until now.

I’m nowhere near where I thought I wanted to be. But for the first time in a very, very long time, I feel like I’m on the right path to where I’m meant to go.

Need a second to breathe

I have been a horrific blogger these days — foregoing all of my regularly-scheduled updates.  I don’t have an excuse at all, except that it’s the end of the semester, I’m focusing on moving and finishing papers and all of those other things, plus I have the world’s busiest social schedule (I really need to start saying “no” to people — at least until mid-May).

So if those are considered “good” excuses, then I guess I do have them. I had a lovely — if busy — week last week.

Thursday I went to Northampton to WEBS with my good friends Tina, Drea, and Jess.  Most of us had gift certificates from Christmas for WEBS, and we were all eager to use them.  And we were all on strict budgets for one reason or another.  But I came off so well!  I scored three skeins of Madelintosh Light in “Cousteau”…for 38 cents (after gift cards, of course).  It would have cost me $60 without the cards and discount!

 

I want to start knitting with it yesterday, but I’m holding off because as I’ve said, I have a massive load of papers to do before the end of the semester.  So I’m saving it as my “end of the semester” treat, for when I’m done.  I’m going to knit another Citron shawl.  I made one last year out of some beautiful green yarn, but I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas and never took any pictures of the finished product.  This one, though…this one is going to be for me.  I can hardly wait.

After WEBS, we went to Roberto’s in Northampton for dinner.  Dinner was good, but dessert…dessert was something special.  We each had the creme brulee — I had vanilla, Drea had blueberry, and Jess and Tina each had butterscotch bourbon.  And although mine was heavenly, I realized after taking a bite of Tina’s that I had made the wrong choice.  Butterscotch bourbon creme brulee is pretty much to die for, just an FYI in case you are ever in a situation where it is offered.  You won’t regret it (but, like me, you may regret passing it up!)

Friday: After work, I hit the gym to begin (again) Couch 2 5 K.  I have a horrible time with self-motivation, and although I’ve started C25K twice before, I’ve always managed to crash and burn out within the first two weeks.  I’m determined that I won’t do that this time.  After the gym I went out with Samantha and we went apartment shopping.  She made out like a bandit — got her duvet, a blender, a whiteboard for the kitchen, and sheets.  I didn’t do as well.  But I did get a cute set of canisters for the kitchen — something I’ve wanted for awhile:

And a mail organizer for the two of us (I can’t find a picture online).  I’m going to check out Marshall’s again today, since I need bed linens myself.  I had picked out a really cute set from Target, but the quilt alone was going to be $70 — all of the pieces I wanted together were going to be something like $110, and that was just for the quilt and two shams!  Nope, back to the drawing board.

Saturday didn’t begin at all like I had planned.  Samantha and I had purchased a sofa from Craigslist, and the owner said she would hold it until Sunday morning (when Sam could go get it) if I came out on Saturday morning and paid for it.  So I left at around 10 AM (after sending a text to the owner notifying her, per her request).  When I got to the apartment, nobody answered.  I went around the block, got an iced coffee from Dunks, and went back.  Same results.  Sent an email, no reply.  I’m pretty angry about it, especially since I wasted about an hour and a half of my time and the gas and wear on my car to leave empty-handed.  But at least I went to the gym and worked out my frustration on C25K Day 2.  It went better than Day 1.

After that, I went home, showered, and then sat down to watch the Red Sox/Royals game.  During which, I banged out my master’s thesis prospectus.  Twenty-two pages in five and a half hours.  I don’t think I need to explain how exhausted/relieved I was when that little project was done (plus, the Sox won).  The paper having been disposed of, I made BLTs for my dad, Christina, and Jess (a bacon veggie burger for myself) and french fries, and then watched Django Unchained with Christina and Jess while trying to bang out my literature review for my other class.  I got the five-page outline finished, and got about three pages of 20 done before I just gave up around 10:30.  I was getting to that point where my writing isn’t making sense; when I get there, it’s best to just close the whole thing down and start fresh another day.

Sunday I woke up early, went to church, and then made pancakes for everyone.  Then I took the car trip up to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to see my friend Kim in Sweeney Todd.  Which was really great.  And she was really happy that I came.  I wish I could say that I got stuff done when I returned to CT, but I didn’t.  I didn’t get in until almost 7 PM and at that point I was so bushed that I just took a hot bath and made dinner and rested for the rest of the evening.  I passed out sometime between 10 and 11 PM and woke up with my alarm this morning.

 

Today…today I’m really excited because I have a brand spanking new computer at work.  I have counseling with D after work, and then the gym for Day 3 of C25K.  Then…I think it’s home to make dinner and finish that paper, or at least put a pretty big dent in it.

The trees are all in blossom and bud.  It’s finally spring 🙂

Little Victories, Week Six

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

– After wrestling with COMCAST all day last Saturday, I finally managed to get my (UNLIMITED) internet up and running!  It’s fantastic.  It had been a very, very long time (almost three months) since I had experienced the absolute joy of not having to worry about every single page click.  Having this again is like heaven.

– Had a great second meeting with my thesis adviser.  Who is really pleased by my progress, even though I still haven’t finished The Behemoth.  I am on page 508 (I thought I was further, I am not) of 817.

– I got some really good feedback from both Dr. W (Civil War historian at my school) and Dr. LW (thesis adviser) about sources/research for my paper.

– Finalized plans to meet with some internet friends I met on a message board before I got married, for a weekend in March!  I’m super-excited for this; it’ll be my first time meeting most of them.

– Good meeting with Crazy Bruce on Wednesday.

– Started a new cowl today with some Noro yarn I got for my birthday.

Items added to my jar: none this week.  That’s okay, I have a lot going on next week!

Happy Friday everyone!  If you’re in New England and Canada, stay safe!

Personal growth

Do you ever feel, sometimes, like you are just never changing?  Like you are stuck in a rut of failure and it just never ends?  Sometimes you need a tangible reminder that you have changed, that your life is changing, and that, even if you don’t see it day-by-day…things are altering, ever so subtly, until your whole world is different from what it used to be.

I got a searing reminder of that on Saturday night, when D and I went to file our taxes for the second and last time as a married couple.  Because D works for a nonprofit and doesn’t think of his withholding status until tax time, we got screwed big-time.  As in, we owe the IRS $1,200 between our state and federal taxes.  This happened last year to a lessened degree, and me, being me, decided to choose this as a good time to take our marriage counselor’s advice and relinquish my need to control everything.  I left the changing of his withholding status up to D, and I got burned by it.  It’s not a huge burn, just a small one (well, if you can count $1,200 as “small’), but I have to say that there were a few minutes where I covered my eyes with my hands and felt the tears burning my face as the words “How many times are you going to screw me over?” went through my head.

But I didn’t say those words.  I didn’t scream at D or rail at him or ask him why, why, why, exactly, was he letting this happen again, why did he sit by and allow himself to get fucked over at tax-season, and not only him, but me, too?  And while we’re on a roll here, why did he choose to emotionally give up on our marriage a mere two years after saying his vows to me?  These are all things that, a year ago or more, I probably would have just let fly.

Instead, I saved the progress on TurboTax, shut my computer’s lid, and asked him if he wanted to go out and get a cup of hot cocoa from Dunkin Donuts.  (Before anyone echoes my mom’s sentiment of “Because the best reaction to finding out you owe money is to spend money!”, I had a GC left over from Christmas, so nyah).  We went, got our hot chocolate, and drove around, for a little while, chatting on topics, some heavy, some not, talking about our impending divorce and our fears and our dreams for the rest of our lives.  When we parted it was on good terms, which wouldn’t have happened if I had lost my temper.  Had I lost my temper and said all of those terrible things that went through my head up there, we would have accomplished nothing.  It wouldn’t have made me feel better; D would have gotten upset and screamed back at me; it all would have gone to hell very, very quickly.

It doesn’t save me the $600 that I now owe the IRS because of him, but at the very least, it did save me more emotional pain.  Instead of feeling like a horrible person, I feel like I grew up some.  That tangible reminder that, yeah, in the past few years, I have grown.  I have changed.

We all do, I guess.

 

Lately, I have these moments where I am fine, and then I’m not.  Like I function just fine during the day, I face what happened with D and I and I acknowledge, it, and I’m okay.  But then I just fall apart.  It hits me in the chest, fresh, and I am doubled over with it.  That horrible aching yaw in my chest of My husband left me, he doesn’t want to be with me, he doesn’t love me and he never will again.  And oh, that ache, that ache comes and I would give anything to go back to being 27 years old, happily married again.

And then I remember that it wasn’t perfect back then; I only thought it was, because I didn’t know what was going on in D’s head.  I didn’t know that he was unhappy, restless, looking for something other than what I could give him.  I didn’t know that he was already thinking of leaving me.  And when I remember that that life, it wasn’t perfect, somehow it is easier to go on.

Just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

When there is desire, there is gonna be a flame.
When there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned.
But even if it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.
You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.
Pink

I’ve been hearing this song on repeat the whole last weekend, and it was an extremely emotional weekend for me, in a lot of respects.  I saw David every day from Friday until Monday, and let me tell you from personal experience: that is way too much time to spend with your estranged spouse.  Way too much time.  I also drank way too much over the weekend, and was way too emotionally invested in the Patriots/Ravens game (my boys lost, by the way, and yes, I’m still in mourning).  I don’t really feel like rehashing the rougher parts of my weekend, but suffice to say, I ended my weekend yesterday afternoon by bawling on the phone to my friend Drea about how it doesn’t matter how many advanced degrees I earn or A’s I get, or what I do or where I go or the experiences I have; in the eyes of society I will always be a failure because my marriage fell apart and I have no children.

Going to bed at 9:15 PM was probably the kindest thing I could do for myself, and that’s exactly what I did.  I slept on and off for most of the night, and woke up this morning feeling still tired, but a lot more positive and happy than I was.

There are some definite truths to what I was thinking last night.  My parents (particularly my mother) have put a lot of pressure on me to get divorced as soon as possible so I could move on and get remarried and produce grandchildren.  But from the start, my motivation to get divorced was never about having children as soon as possible.  It was about hope.  It was about knowing deep down that, so long as I stay married to David, there is no hope.  He is never going to love me the way I deserve to be moved, and I am never going to fully be able to trust him again after he had an affair.  I’ve tried.  It isn’t working.  And he’s never going to want to make it work the way I do.

Family life and kids DO factor in.   I want to marry and have children, I really do.  It’s not in the cards right now, and even if I was married, it wouldn’t be.  I put off the idea of having children in my 20’s when I signed on to finish my Master’s Degree back in late 2011.  I know too many people who either never went back to school, or had to indefinitely postpone it, because they had children.  I didn’t want to do that.  Nor did I want to try and juggle writing a Master’s thesis while taking care of a newborn or toddler.  One thing at a time.

More than that, even if the societal belief is that a woman who is divorced and childless is a failure, no matter what else she accomplishes, it is not true for me.  Society and I apparently have different definitions of “failure.”

Failure would have been staying in this marriage and letting it suck my life and soul and will to live away.
Failure would have been accepting a lack of love, just to retain the diamond ring and the title of “wife”, in the vain hope of one day getting back everything we lost.
Failure would have been falling down and throwing away almost five years of working on my anxiety disorder, and letting myself fall apart again.
Failure would have been allowing my personal life to overtake my education, dropping my grades and getting me kicked out of school.
Failure would have been accepting the love that I’ve always felt I deserved…which wasn’t love at all.

I didn’t do any of those things.

When all this is said and done, I will be single, divorced, and 30 years old.  I have about 10 – 15 years of childbearing ability (with any luck) ahead of me.  I am (reportedly) still young-looking enough to pass for mid-20’s, according to people who are not close enough to me to lie to make me feel better about myself.  I am smart, I have my B.A. and I will have my M.A. by the end of this year.  I will be financially independent, and comfortably so.  I will know myself better, because I have gone through this experience.

I know who I am, what I’m worth, and what I want.  Three things I didn’t know two years ago when I got married.

My plans for the next few months are pretty crazy.  My intention over the next few years is to do anything that I previously thought “I could do this, but it would be tough to do when we’re married and are trying to save money for a house and a family.”  I still want those things, but I also want…memories.  Life.  Joy.  Experience.  And to get married again, and have a family.  Those are dreams, too, but they don’t have to be the dream.

I’m going to buy my new (to me) car in February.
I’m going to apply (finances willing) to that course in June and go to study-abroad (if I can swing it).
I’m going to volunteer to be an organizer at Wildfire, and attend both May and August Wildfires, if I can swing them financially (will be about $240).
I’m going to climb Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with Drea and Sam in August (or September).
I’m going to write my thesis (and it is going to be amazing).
I’m going to graduate in December.
I’m going to throw my resume at colleges and high schools anywhere in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
I’m going to live my life.

And I’m going to

The Crash

Some days, you crash.  More specifically, some days, I crash.

Why?  I don’t know why.  Could be a really overly emotional counseling session with DS this morning.

Could be a weekend of too much alcohol and probably some funky mixing with my anti-anxiety meds.

Could be staying up way too late on Saturday for a party and on Sunday to watch the game (RIP 2013 Patriots 😦 Such a disappointing loss).

Could be that feeling of failure, of feeling like, no matter what I do, how many A’s, how many advanced degrees I get, I am a failure because my marriage is over and I don’t have children.

 

Goals tonight: survive the evening.  Crazy Bruce says somedays that’s the best thing to do.  I don’t say that to mean I’m suicidal or anything.  I just refuse to make effort or expectations higher than I can meet without exertion.

A hot bath, reading a good fluff book, and early to bed are all in the cards for me tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ll face it when it comes.

Little Victories, Week Two

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life. 

Week Two:

– Had a good counseling session with David and DS on Monday, followed by a really good dinner out at 99.  I ordered the barbecue chicken wrap, no tomatoes.  And tried not to watch SportsCenter behind David’s head.  (Unbelievable.  Ten years ago, I was the person getting pissed at my boyfriends for doing the exact same thing.  Look at my life.  Look at my choices.)

Went to Sephora at my local mall on Tuesday afternoon, made a new friend and scored $120 worth of makeup for only $45, thanks to gift cards!

– Good session with Crazy Bruce on Wednesday afternoon, not exactly productive, but he did what he does best and helped me put things into perspective, which sometimes is my biggest challenge.

Started a new knit hat.

– Got about 1/4 of the way through World Without End, the sequel to one of my favorite books, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  It’s pretty good, but it’s not sucking me in like Pillars did, and I’m not feeling the same love for the characters that I did with Pillars.  Most of the characters are pretty flawed creatures, which is one of the reasons why I love Follett; he doesn’t write cardboard-cutout, flat characters.  Reminds me a lot of G.R.R. Martin.  But that’s a story for another day.

– My mom actually acknowledged my anxiety disorder for the first time since I was diagnosed in 2006, and told me that she thinks I’m doing a good job of dealing with it (i.e. going to therapy and taking medication).  I’m taking that as a victory, no matter how small or how long it took her to get to that point.

Well.  In a week where I felt very convoluted, went to a wake, cried a lot, and felt fragile, there was an awful lot of good!

Items added to my 2013 jar: 2

Not too shabby!  Here’s to a good Week 3!

Painful Memories

Autumn, 2005.  I am twenty-two years old.  The last two weeks of twenty-one were spent in the hospital, and then recovery, after a brutal car accident that broke my pelvis in three places, cracked three ribs, punctured one lung, fractured my tailbone, and left facial lacerations that will eventually need corrective surgery.  I spent two months healing, getting better, learning how to walk again, dress myself, take care of myself.  And finally, I was able to go home.

That’s when I realized — my body was repairing.  My brain was still broken.  I was lost.  Stuck.  Trapped in my apartment.  Every time I went to the door, my hands would shake and I’d break into a sweat.  What will happen this time?  I got lucky the last time.  I survived.  Next time, I won’t be so lucky.  The next car accident I get into will probably be my last.

I am alone.  Nobody talks to me.  Nobody realizes that, despite my outward appearance, I am not healing, I am not healed.  I sit alone in my apartment for hours on end.  I am screaming on the inside, and nobody can hear me.  Sometimes I feel like the part of me that was real died that day, and I’m just a shell of who I used to be.  People say “I don’t understand why you’re like this.  You survived.  You’re going to be okay.  Be happy.”  They don’t see me.  I am invisible.

 

October, 2008.  I am twenty-five years old.  My boyfriend David and I have been together almost six months.  I have been battling anxiety and depression for three years.  It is just another day.  Nothing special.  But I am uncontrollable.  He can already tell…it’s another one of “those” days.  Days when the smallest thing will send me into a tailspin of anxiety, leave me lying in bed crying for hours.  I can’t control myself.  I am out of control.

He is going to leave me, I just know it.  He’s going to decide one day that I am not worth it, that he is tired of grabbing me around the waist and holding me while I sob.  He’s going to go find a simpler girl. 

He swears this isn’t the case.  “I love you.  Nothing you say or do is going to change that.”  But he is reaching the end of his rope.  He knows that I have a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs in my wallet.  My doctor prescribed them to me five months ago.  He wants me to take them.

“They aren’t going to change who you are” he says, “They’re going to help you.  They’re going to let you be the person you should be without the anxiety.”

And that day, I cave.  That day, I fill the prescription, I take the first pill.  I never, ever look back.

 

August, 2009.  We are engaged now.  David has just returned from Massachusetts.  His estranged father won’t speak to him, won’t look at him.  Doesn’t care about him.  This is the way it has been for almost ten years.  I have known this all along, but this is the first time that it has really seemed to affect David.  This is the first time that he has seemed to care.

He lies in bed, in pajamas, staring at the wall, too upset to do anything except cry.  I hold him, he leans his head against my chest and sobs.

“Promise me,” he says, “that if I ever do this, if I ever push you away, if I ever become like my father…if it’s genetic and I can’t escape it, promise me you won’t give up.  Promise me you’ll do anything to make me get better.  Drag me to a doctor, drag me to a therapist, I don’t care.  Just please, please don’t let me ruin your life and mine the way my father has ruined my mother’s, and my brother’s, and mine.”

I promise.  After all he has done for me, it is the least I can do.

 

December 2012.  We have been married for two years.  I am twenty-nine, he is twenty-seven.  I have been medicated for four years, I have had a therapist for almost three.  I am not healed.  I never will be.  But I am better.  I can count the number of panic attacks that I have in a year on one hand.  That is amazing progress.  But the minute I started to get better, David fell apart.

In September of 2011, he told me he wasn’t in love with me anymore.  He told me he wanted to separate in April of 2012.  In November of 2012, after months of trying to make things work, I moved out.  I told him, repeatedly, that if he is not going to seek counseling, if he is not going to remove the negative influences from his life, and if he is never, ever going to love me the way a man should love his wife, then there is no sense in us even trying to reconcile.

I go to his apartment, our old apartment, the day after Christmas.  I am upset.  I am fed up.  He has been lying to me — again.  And I can’t take it anymore.  I want to move on, I want to find someone who loves me, who makes me feel like I am worthy of being loved.  And I tell him I am ready to file for divorce.

He crumples, there on the couch next to me.  Dissolves into tears before my eyes.  He cannot move forward.  He cannot move back.  He doesn’t know where he’s going.  He removed me from his life and he is still unhappy.  He thought that I was what was holding his happiness back, but that’s not true.  Though he has been told — months ago — by our marriage counselor that he needs therapy, he is unable to bring himself to face it.  He prefers to work constantly and surround himself with people who tell him that he doesn’t need help, that he is fine the way he is.

I once did that too.

I thought I was doing the right thing, telling him I wanted a divorce.  I thought he’d be relieved.  I thought that was what he wanted all along, he just didn’t want to be the one to pull the trigger.

But he sits next to me, sobbing into his hands, “I don’t know what to do, Meg.  I don’t know what to do.  I never am comfortable in my own skin.  I feel so alone, all the time.  I am never home, no matter where I am.  I am so unhappy, and nobody realizes it.”

And it breaks my heart, because I have been there.

I am just as lost as I was before.  I sit there, and I hold him as he sobs.  And I wonder…where do we go from here?