2019 was a tough year.
I had the best intentions, but everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
Changing jobs was a punch in the face, but what happened next took everything out of me.
I’m an insecure overachiever. And the job change tested everything about me. While my email address didn’t change, I changed industries, roles and offices. I spent 5 hours in the car, 3 days a week. There was an HR issue that ultimately resolved mid-2019, but enduring it was the greatest challenge of my career and I never acknowledged fully it or processed it. It was fine.
I was fine, I was handling it. Until I stepped away during holiday break and looked back at my year. I realized I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t handling it.
Truth is, I spent 2019 far from fine.
I’m well versed in depression and anxiety. I know how to manage it. But I was feeling something different.
I was angry.
I was furious.
I had rage.
I had let myself be mistreated and I blamed myself for that. That feeling of smallness followed me all year. (Of course, my adult brain knows I couldn’t have controlled the situation, but my lizard brain…it couldn’t process.)
I lost my temper, regularly. At my kids, at my husband, at myself. I remember moments of red, triggered by simple and age appropriate behavior of my 3 and 5 year old. I gained 20 pounds. I beat myself up for every small mistake. I threw my laptop across my home office one day. I cried. The pillow screaming – there was A LOT of pillow screaming. I was overwhelmed, by everything. I dropped my hobbies. I overspent. I was drowning. I drowned. I didn’t want this life. I woke up exhausted. I didn’t enjoy anything. I stopped doing my hair. I stopped writing. I lost my sense of humor. Sounds dumb, but I stopped posting to Instagram. I wished to evaporate.
By the end of the year, I didn’t recognize myself or my behavior.
My principles for 2019 were simple.
- If it’s not a Hell Yes, it’s a No
- Self Care is a must.
Easy right? So, how did I get here? How did that experience throw me so off course?
If it’s not a Hell Yes, it’s No
I applied this brilliantly…to my family, but not to me. We accomplished and experienced so many things as a family this year! We hired the most amazing nanny ever. Matt and I protected our time. We had a date night every month as planned. We went to the Berkshires and hung at Tourists. WE POTTY TRAINED MAVIS. Meanwhile, in the background, I burned myself down to nothing, ignoring and band-aiding my mental health. In a moment of clarity, I cancelled our much-anticipated bathroom renovation because the thought of it exhausted me. So, at least there was that.
Self Care is a must.
When my stress levels rose, self care was the first thing to go. Out the window. Kicked it out the door. Done. Instead I survived. I ate. I ate everything. Emotional eating is interesting. For me, when I’m just in the mood for a treat, I know exactly what treat and how much I want of it. When I’m emotional eating, I just want all of everything. Case in point, I ate a two-pound Easter Bunny because it was there.
I didn’t sleep. I didn’t go to therapy. I didn’t exercise. I emerged briefly during the warmer months, took a yoga class which I inexplicitly (to me then) cried through. I started to despise my body.
On December 9th I took this photo, and opened the Notes app, ready to draft my witty caption, reference my 5 year old paint swatches stage right, you know! But what came out was:
“Pictured here is a woman on the edge. She gained 20 pounds this year, and much of her closet no longer fits. She feels ashamed. She lost her temper at her kids and her husband because everything is stressful and the commute is hard and often overwhelming and she doesn’t feel like she good enough. She feels unworthy. She’s smiling because what else can she do, but show you this face?
If this woman wasn’t me, I would give her a hug, tell her she is doing a really good job, because she is. But that’s not what I do. I shame myself and I blame myself. ”
UM. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? I closed my Notes app and didn’t post it.
There’s a joke between Matt and I – he can’t tell when I’m in my cups. (Translation: 3-4 cocktails deep – sorry, I’ve been watching The Crown.) I have control of myself. All of these feelings were hidden, because I didn’t have time to deal with them so I just kept eating them. He didn’t know I nearly drown.
On Dec 18th I turned off my work email. I went to a yoga class, which I cried through (surprise) and the spell broke: I’m not ok. This is not ok. I’ve got to help myself.
And here we are.
I don’t have a plan, exactly. Well, I have an idea of a plan. But right now I’m day-by-day. Today’s plan is releasing this post into the wild.