Decade of Reflections – part three

Continuing the recap of the last ten years picking back up in 2013 when I began to create light in my life through creativity while the life I’d built had begun to crumble.

These are stacks of my journals by year from 2009-2019. Not included are any of my fiction or working journals.

Heading into 2013 I was just trying to stay afloat and the creative pursuits enabled me to keep moving forward in the haze. It was around this time that the old life that I had been building finally began to crack open. Superficially, my ex and I were alright, stronger than ever because we had endured so many things together. But, the reality was darker especially as I’d begun to create my own light. There was something about the loss of my second child that changed my perspective on my life and what it meant. My first occurred at 19, was followed by the dissolution of my parents contentious marriage and the death of someone who had been not quite a friend but a very kind mentor. That had lead to deep depression which had endured until I transferred to University and finished my degree. My second had been a transcendent experience because I had been journaling and I was able to feel everything in the moment and to feel it more deeply afterward. During 2012 I did sink into something of a depressive state but it was different and easier to alleviate for a variety of reasons. I also had professional help the second time around and being in my late twenties versus my late teens helped too.

There were a variety of health issues in 2013 but I had been exercising and improving my diet as well as taking control of my sleep despite my ex’s habit of sleeping less than six hours on a good day. Sharing a small space had made it difficult to live with this person and also have healthy habits but I’d been fighting to do better for myself. The best thing that happened to me in 2013 was that I finally got a job working at a bookstore that was about to open. It helped save me from my own head which was important as I was still having flashes on the miscarriage without actively brooding or thinking on it. The bookstore sort of devoured me which was positive until it was not. The store opened in a very difficult area to run a successful business and was hampered by the owners and managers conflicts of egos combined with the stark financial realities of the business. I left for my health and during that November I won NaNoWriMo with the very first draft of the novel I’m still working on.

At the end of the year I was sick from a terrible cold and discovered a huge lump in my throat on what turned out to be my thyroid. Going into 2014 I was very aware of my own mortality as the biopsy was unclear. The doctor ended up removing much of my thyroid but it wasn’t cancer and suddenly things were different. All of these factors had made me more determined that I needed to keep going with my writing because it was enabling me to survive the worst moments of my life and keeping me from giving up when I felt too weak to go on. I’d kept active by going on long walks which helped me physically and creatively but on one walk I slipped off the uneven ground in the dim evening light and fractured my foot. Once I received the go ahead from the doctor I began working out with a trainer because after the many health issues I knew that I needed my body to be healthy in order to support the work I wanted to do. It was the first time I wanted to work out for a reason besides weight loss. I had never succeeded losing weight with the methods I’d trained and had often gained weight instead. With the trainer I gained confidence and he was good at seeing when I should keep going and when I was pushing too hard (and risking injury as a result). There was still a lot of chaos during this year but with my trainer’s help I had a stability I’d never had access to before. This was also when the final fractures between me and my ex became clear to me. Reading back what I wrote at the time I recognize that he didn’t respect me as a person and that this fact had often surfaced in the past but I had seen myself as the problem because my life had so many chaotic components.

In 2015 my marriage ended, I met my (now) husband, moved from California to Florida and began working as a substitute teacher. It was a full a delirious year of change. I can’t paint my ex with a negative or positive brush. The lives we lived together were many things and the ways we were to one another were not uniformly kind or cruel. During our marriage I always had this idea that we weren’t a good fit and this was something we both expressed at various times to one another. From the outside we were admired because we were more like friends but the friendship didn’t last because somehow there had been little respect in the friendship.

From 2016-2018 my (now) husband and I worked very hard to bring together the pieces of our lives and build what we’d dreamed little by little. There was respect early in our relationship as well as love and friendship. There were struggles in the beginning as we tried to make sense of each other, to express what we wanted and didn’t want and to find the ways in which we could share a life even as we are individuals with separate needs too. We both found work at different places and worked hard to build up an income that could allow us to accomplish the things we wanted to in life. Prior to getting together, he was aware of how important writing and creating was to me and as we moved forward he reminded me to keep going with it. This was important because initially there were many other priorities on a practical level.

It was these efforts that resulted in 2018-2019 being years in which I was able to dedicate myself more fully to creative pursuits. It has been a struggle to rediscover the momentum I had previously attained and at times this has been discouraging. At others I’ve been able to recognize that I have new eyes with which to edit and new experiences that will help enrich my work. But still, there have been major health issues in this period as well as more issues with my father and the deaths of my mother and my cat. These challenges were unexpected and took their own tolls. However, it was helpful to revisit the last decade to do some detective work. As difficult as these challenges were, what I found most striking was that prioritizing my emotional and mental health helped me to endure the decade. At the start I was doing a really bad job at this without recognizing that stuffing it all down was holding me back on every front.

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