Here’s to Finding Myself (Again)

I can’t believe it’s already almost September. I see little kiddos geared up in backpacks half their size and I find myself longing for childhood again- the simplicity of it all. When choosing your backpack was a decision that weighed heavily as school approached. When back to school shopping was your favourite time of the year.

I think we can all agree this year has been one of the most challenging years of our lives. It’s a year that has broken me, and has built me, 100 times over again. A year where I slipped so far from the person I used to be. I morphed into someone I didn’t like hated. Someone who lost their zest for life, their passion for writing, their ability to socialize without anxiety, their kindness, which quickly turned to fear, which turned to anger, and then sadness, so much sadness.

I think this year, for so many of us, was a year of loss. Loss of the plans we had for the year- all 2020 resolutions down the toilet.

I know so many couples who had to cancel or postpone weddings. Cancel trips. Re-evaluate their career choices. Leave work entirely. Take on the role of home-schooler. Work while caring for children full time. The challenges have been immense.

I think many of us had a hard time adjusting to the loss of normalcy we were used to- loss of the life we knew. The life before we were bombarded by COVID19 headlines on Facebook. Before we checked the Ontario infected cases when we woke up in the morning (Cue Anxiety). A life before we had to distance from people we love. The life before we feared being a carrier of the illness and unknowingly passing it on to our loved ones. A life before Covid is a life that feels so far away.

We are in the waste land. None of us have experienced this in our life times. So how are we supposed to know how to navigate it? With so much conflicting information in the news, no wonder people are struggling to follow the rules:

It’s safe to go to the store. NO Don’t go out unless you have to. You can hug people with a mask on. NO stay 6 feet away at all times. You can eat at a restaurant outside. NO don’t, under any circumstances, eat at a restaurant.

The contradicting information created a sort of tug of war in my mind. In the end, I decided for me, I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s the line in the sand that we can’t step over.

With COVID-19, my anxiety sky rocketed. For anyone who’s experienced trauma, you may be familiar with the fight or flight response (heck even if you haven’t experienced trauma I think we’ve all felt this way at some point). When COVID19 hit, my body went back to a place I hoped I’d never have to re-visit. The haunted house on the corner of the street. The dark under the bed. I was brought back to a place of trauma, where my body only knows panic, only knows tension, only knows fight for your fucking life.

After months of high alert, my body was fatigued, my brain was muddled, and I couldn’t think clearly. I felt physically sick 90% of the time. I was so exhausted of being on high-alert. So, what do we do when we don’t want to feel? We escape. I escaped any way I could. I slept too much, or not enough. Ate to fill the loneliness. I drank until the wild in my mind would settle. I just couldn’t handle the noise anymore. I wanted quiet, and I was willing to abuse my body to get it.

That’s the funny thing about alcohol, it doesn’t feel bad for us. It tastes good. It makes us feel good. It’s a social experience. It doesn’t taste like poison. I mean fuck they market it for just about every activity. Having a BBQ? Beer. Going on a date night? Wine. Having a relaxing vacation? Cocktails. How was I supposed to know it was literally poisoning me? Oh, I know. By the fact that my body quite literally started rebelling. And when I couldn’t just have a glass of wine or 2. It was more regularly a bottle. And I’d pass out on the couch, waking up feeling sick and dazed. So, I searched for support.

My doctor told me the amount I was drinking was bordering on alcoholism.

My naturopath told me my reproductive system was shutting down.

My psychologist told me I was drinking when I was sad, not when I was happy.

When I finally took the time to sit with the discomfort. To sit with the noise inside my mind and check in with my body, I asked it “What the fuck do you want?!” And it replied “love.”

So, I searched for ways to show my body love. I saw my naturopath more regularly, who told me without pretty drastic lifestyle changes I will more than likely need fertility treatments in order to ever get pregnant. I remembered a phrase I used to tell myself when I was going through bouts of writers block caused by depression. “Nothing beautiful can grow here.” How can I expect a baby to grow inside my body when I’m addicted to pouring poison in it?

That was a moment of realization. A realization that even if life is hard, even if I’m living through a pandemic, even if I won’t be able to get pregnant easily- I can do hard things. Better yet, I can come out better from it. And also a realization, that I have a certain amount of control over the outcome. I can either sit and drink, or I can do the work.

I’m choosing to do the work.

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