*blows dust off of blog*
*brushes away cobwebs*
It’s good to be back.
I’ve had a strange relationship with this blog. I go through phases of wanting to keep up with it, and posting regularly, and I do for a while, and then life gets in the way as it always does, and this blog, and my writing, are the first to get put on the back burner.
Most of the time I’m just trying to get through the week, to my next day off, when I can finally be home and return to my true form of an introverted blob. My work schedule means I have a rotating 3-week rota where I’ll have two days off, four days in, one day off, four days in, two days off, three days in, repeat. This means I only have one free weekend a month, and a random weekday off once a week, which isn’t ever enough time to do all the chores and errands I need to do, along with all the nothing I desperately crave. Or, you know, spending time with my partner and having a life.
I know work is always the first excuse for not keeping up with writing or blogging, but my schedule means not only is it hard to plan (and actually get things done) each week, but it’s hard to plan bigger life things as well. This has been even more difficult as I’ve been frantically trying to sort out my visa situation again, which has been either baffling, infuriating, hostile, or sometimes all three. (It’s taken three immigration lawyers and three different Home Office helpline officials, all of whom gave me different information, to figure out what I should do….) Luckily I’ve submitted it, and am now waiting to hear back about my fate. I’m also applying for new jobs every chance I get.
Still, I’m very privileged in so many ways, and others have even more demanding work schedules, or more precarious personal circumstances, and they still get their writing and blogging done. So what’s the point of this rant? I wanted to vent I guess, and maybe write out my frustrations at not being the writer and blogger I wish I was.
I’ve read so many amazing New Year’s blog posts from incredible writers and friends, especially my fellow Muses Joyce and Nicole, who set out new intentions and goals for the year, and I admire them so much. I love what they’re setting out to achieve, and I’ll be there to cheer them on every step of the way. But when I look back at my previous lists and somewhat naive timelines for ‘getting things done’, I just feel even more like a failure. And I know I’m not a failure, but my perfectionist tendencies scream loudest at times like these, and I really want to get better at setting realistic goals for myself and actually maintaining discipline with the time I have, so I have no regrets at the end of each year. I also know that in order to do this, I need to really change my habits and daily behaviors. I want to become a better girlfriend, friend, writer, critique partner, and human being, and I need to make big changes to do so.
This time last year I had been home for two weeks for Christmas, and for my cousin’s wedding on New Year’s Eve. It was the first time I was seeing my family since splitting up from my abusive ex-husband, and it was the first time my mind and body could finally relax and process everything that had happened. I’ve heard that when you’re in survival mode for so long, once you’re in a safe place, that’s when you finally crash out of survival mode, and the physical and emotional toll hits you. I think that’s what happened to me one year ago, because I ended up in the emergency room for a massive panic attack. I was showing symptoms of a heart attack, which is what my dad died of, so it was traumatizing. Especially when the rational part of my brain had realized that it wasn’t a heart attack, but I still couldn’t stop the panic attack from happening. I felt like such an idiot, hooked up to an ECG machine, hyperventilating, trying to calm my raging pulse, all while watching the seconds tick by on the clock on the wall, knowing each tick was more money I’d be paying out of pocket. It was. . .a lot.
Essentially, I had a break down. I was bedridden for a week, had to call in to work back in London and explain what happened, book a second flight home (cheaper than changing the one I’d already booked back), and figure out what the fuck I was going to do with my life. (And how I was going to pay off the $3000 hospital bill I got, with no insurance. Thanks American healthcare. . .)
I had no regrets about leaving my ex, and still don’t. But I was terrified of what I was going to do next. Should I stay home and start over? I didn’t really want that, as I had friends and a job and a life back in London that I didn’t want to just throw away. I also didn’t want to live in my childhood bedroom again, this time divorced, unemployed, broke, and completely lost. So I knew I wanted to go back to London, I just needed to overcome my fear of flying (or having a medical emergency on the airplane), and sleeping, since I was convinced I was going to die in my sleep. (Thanks brain. . .)
Looking back now, I know my real fear was that I had lost control of my life, and didn’t know how to get it back. But eventually, I worked up the courage to get on that plane and fly alone back to London, and an uncertain future. But the thought of my friends kept me going, the knowledge that they loved me and were there for me.
The first month or so back was tough, as my anxiety was still really bad (I was still afraid of dying in my sleep), and I was feeling pretty hopeless about my future. But I started writing again, vowing to finally finish the first draft of my second book, THE DEVIL’S BELT. And I did. I’ll never forget that feeling, that despite all that had happened, I finished it, hand-writing most of it in a notebook that fit into my uniform pocket so I could write in quiet moments at work. The last word fit on the last line of the last page. It was *chef’s kiss* magical.
But I knew it needed work. It still does, even though I worked on it during NaNo to polish it and add in much needed detail and characterization. It just felt so good to get back into writing, into a creative practice, where I wasn’t swimming in my own existential bullshit anymore, and where I had something to look forward to. Things were looking up.
And the universe confirmed this when I met Sean.
Out of the blue last spring, I felt ready to start dating again, joined a non-Tindery dating app (called Coffee Meets Bagel – this is not a sponsored endorsement but I definitely recommend it!), and connected with the most emotionally intelligent, kind, sensitive, generous, funny, handsome man I’ve ever met. (Doesn’t hurt we’re both INFJ’s too!)
I’m still reeling at how I was in such a blur of figuring out my shit and how to be ok alone, and yet I stumbled into the most fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had. He’s wonderful, and I’m so lucky I found him.
He’s the best thing that happened to me, and I never would have met him if I’d given up and stayed home, or not taken the leap and put myself out there again.
He’s what I’m most grateful for from 2019.
I also had some amazing moments with my friends here (karaoke party until 4am? Surprise party for one of my best friends who is currently fighting breast cancer?), and my family (my sister’s bachelorette and wedding!!), so I have some great memories from 2019. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come, of paying off my hospital bills, and of how I’m getting stronger at managing my anxiety and depression. I still have existential spirals now and then, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop having those. How can we not, the way the world is going?
I hope 2020 will be kinder, and life won’t be so hard for everyone. I know that’s probably naive too, if just the first week of this year is any indication, but I still want to hope.
I hope 2020 brings you joy, and surprises, and fun. I hope 2020 brings new memories and new love into your life, whether it’s with your friends, family, pets, or partners. I hope in a year’s time we can look back and know we’ve made the world a better place, in small ways or big.
Here’s to a new year, and a new decade.
Thanks for reading.