I often wished for a looking glass – for a quick peek in to the future. “Just let me how it turns out,” I protested. Alas, my looking glass never arrived.
As I am every December, I was determined not to write this post.
“There isn’t much to say, really…” I claimed as I crawled in to bed on Wednesday night. “If nothing else, it is worth exploring the pain” Nathan refuted.
He was right …if nothing else, it is worth exploring the pain. What we remember of it, that is.
2015 began exactly how 2014 had in many ways. And not, in so many others. The job I thought I was supposed to have according to some unwritten, made up, societal laws was leaving me dreading Mondays (and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and…). I loved the actual work that I did, but I had a ton of knowledge of broken processes, and no actual means to fix them. I was stuck, and unhappy. Just as I had been a year before. Grasping at empty straws – in desperate hope to not be at the same place at the beginning of 2016, I spent the New Year’s weekend applying for another job. At the time, these motions felt the same as all of the others I’d gone through this year. But this time was actually different.
In a whirlwind few weeks I accepted a position in Customer Happiness at Recruiterbox – a SAAS startup, with the goal to solve the pain of hiring. I was their second remote employee, and I brought the Customer Happiness team to a total of two. I was also the first female hire. And, I was finally working remotely – which had been at the top of the “new job” wish list. On my 27th birthday I quit the job society was telling me to have, and never looked back.
By this recollection it may seem that the year was sailing along beautifully perhaps she was just being a bit of a melodramatic teenager in the beginning, when speaking of exploring the pain. The truth is, there is copious amounts left unmentioned in the first month of the year – mainly because we have little memories of it. And because being distracted was so much easier.
>>>There are no words to describe how it feels to walk past the fridge and see the document outlining what to do if your husband tries to kill himself. And when there are not words, there often aren’t memories. Pain has a way of doing this. Erasing what it doesn’t want you to see.
In November of 2014 Nathan had casually announced in a – hey – by – the – way – let – me – tell – you – about – my – day kind of way that he was feeling disjointed thoughts. We were sitting on the couch. I remember blinking, looking at him, and cocking my head – to see if I had heard him correctly. After 6 years of normal life – his type 1 bipolar was no longer responding to his current dose of medication.
I’d be lying if I said that at that moment I had any idea what the next year would hold. He’d go to the doctor, they’d adjust his medication, and we’d be great by Christmas, right?
Between November and February his life – our life – had passively crumbled. I would say actively crumbled – as you would think items crumbling may do – but there are few active actions for those who do not leave the bed for days at a time.
During this time I quickly learned and fell in love with my new job, with working from home, and all of the lifestyle changes it allotted.
Quietly, in the background of it all I held all of the pieces of our lives above my head – to keep them dry from the drowning waters that encroached below as you may expect, when half of your family opts out of life for a while.
I could not put these pieces back together but if I held them tight enough, I would at least know where they all were when this was over.
To understand March you can simply scroll up, highlight the text above. Copy. Paste.
Work had become automatic, but exciting. Fast paced. I looked forward to every second of it – from the problems I was getting to solve, to the people we served, to our tight knit growing team. It was (spoiler alert – and still is) wonderful.
Home was anything but. Nathan was rapidly cycling at this point. We were trying new medications – but nothing was sticking. Each day was a new step in this dance – a dance that didn’t always lend itself to hearing the music, knowing which foot to put out next, or knowing when my dance partner would rejoin life. It was not uncommon to have a great day, and not be able to get out of bed the next. Or – after sleeping for 48 hours – physically and mentally unable to lift himself from the bed – to go 72 hours without sleep – wanting to conquer the world. A dance. Without music. Or steps. Or a partner. This seems like progress. As does anything – after a month in bed. But, this phase was perhaps the hardest and most frustrating. We would get small – sometimes a few hours – sometimes a few days – glimpses at what life could look like. And then depression would grab it back – keeping it for its selfish self.
At the end of the month the gaping hole in our chests closed a bit as we welcomed our first, and most perfect, Nephew into this world.
In typical fairy tale fashion that’s what this is, right? Spring brought new medications and new side effects and a small breath of fresh air. We saw momentary glances of normal or – whatever normal had become.
We enjoyed baby snuggles at every chance we had.
We celebrated three years of marriage – with a toast to the hardest 6 months we had ever faced. We were going to be okay. Whatever okay was…
At the end of May the side effects from the second medication change were eating us alive. We were trying to tough it out – because – besides the side effects think disjointed movements – where your fine motor skills wouldn’t do what you asked them to and your automated motions required thought – life seemed to have hope again.
But we knew this wasn’t sustainable. And, in a big leap of whatever-hope-we-still-clung-to-at-the-time we changed medications completely.
Along with this came a new list for the fridge – of the life threatening signs that the new medication was turning his blood toxic. The “get to the emergency room and hope they can fix it in time” type of symptoms.
Life moved on. Bad days became fewer, but each morning still felt shrouded in fear. What type of day would we have today? How long will the good days last?
Summer lent itself to warm afternoons, hammocks by the creek, and long walks through town.
Nathan and I shared an unspoken silence about next steps. Things were getting better but we both still held the pit-in-your-stomach feeling of wondering when the next ball would drop.
>>>There were pieces – so many pieces – that had fallen apart. We slowly started putting them back together. Some days I would just sit and smile. I would realize with a shudder how hard the past few months had been without my Husband. I would be filled with warmth and thankfulness. I would try to end the day dream before it ended itself – before the fear of the unknown sank back in.
Fall has always held a special place in my heart. It is a time of refreshing cool air and a renewed sense of peace. This year was no different.
Leaves changed, and we said tearful goodbyes to a dear friend who had fought his way – claws and all – into the deep corners of our heart.
Afterwards it became increasingly easy to escape. Sitting still felt too easy. Too scary. We ran away to Vancouver for a week of pretending the world didn’t exist.
We came home to holidays, food and family. A site for our weary souls, we relished in the simpleness of the holidays.
I’ve spent the past few weeks with a bit of a daze around me. Thinking back to last December – I had no idea how much this year would test and change every fiber of my being.
Things are never going to return to what they were before this past year. Our world is different now. We can’t ever unsee, undo, or remake what has happened. And that is okay.
Our goals and dreams are vastly different than they were when our world came crashing down 13 months ago. And that is okay.
I am glad the looking glass to see forward to the end of this year never came, because I am not sure I could have handled it. And that is, also, okay.