This past and still current season of my life has been rocky. It was rocky long before I could admit it to myself. It was rocky long before my mom sat down next to me on the floor of the Air bnb and said I seemed to have not been doing very well since December. I hated that, and it made me cry and feel guilty and I tried to fumble with the carefully constructed excuses I had been building for quite some time now. It was school, most days, the fact that it was my final year and I had a stack of papers to write about some papers I had never read. It was my period, other times, the fact that I have a period that lasts 4-5 times longer than the average female and even on my good days that itself is exhausting. My Sciatica too, of course, because for too long now I had gotten far too used to being in pain after just an average day and that was more than easy to blame. It was all these excuses stacked upon one another and even though I am more than sure they have contributed to everything I have felt over the past many months it took me forever to admit that maybe I just wasn’t doing all that well. And then one day, after talking with my mom, after her gentle wake up call, it wasn’t just my excuses anymore. It was, hey, I’m really just not doing the best right now.
Really just not doing the best right now, sucks. Because I’ve been up and down the majority of my 22 year-long life. More recently, I had been doing a lot better than I was doing last summer, and I wore that like a badge of honour, not quite ready to admit that it didn’t change how I was feeling right now. I remember the summer I left Ontario and my first two semesters in BC as though they are sunshine against the gloominess of some other seasons. I was so good, I was confident and daring and I had moved across the country and more than anything I was content with myself. It probably wasn’t that perfect, I’m still human, and still me, but when you look back at your life and hold different seasons against the rest you let some things slip away to make the good look better and the bad look worse. When last summer hit I felt it all begin to slip away and I couldn’t handle it. I ended a perfectly good relationship because of it and while I’m not swimming in a pool of regret over it I wish I hadn’t needed it. My emotions are strong, and I feel everything deeper than I sometimes would like – it is the absolute best and worst thing about myself. So when things are out of line, physically or emotionally, I feel it immensely. It is aggravating, it is an itch I cannot get rid of and my mind is constantly running despite its desperate need for rest. This was last summer, when my body began weakening, when my leg was less able to hold me upright, and when my mind was less willing to admit to it all. I came apart, not completely, but with my somewhat separated pieces I clung to the last memory of myself as strong and I did everything I could to replicate that previous version without recognizing that moving backwards would never help me get forward.
Then, over the course of the fall I began to get better. Except when I started putting myself back together I used the wrong tape and glue and I made decisions that didn’t build me up or make me stronger but that kept me in a sort of stand still between struggling and healthy. Eventually I saw that the holes I was trying to fill were continuously getting poured out and I was tired of the effort it was taking to keep myself together. I once again, began to come apart. But it was different, it wasn’t as abrupt or painful. It was slow and along the way I made choices that made profound differences in the way I was feeling in such positive ways. I was no longer struggling like last summer, but I was far from fully ready to admit that I wasn’t fully together either. I spent too much time crying over little things, finding my body and mind becoming overwhelmed without much effort. I was exhausted, and not the type of exhausted you get after being properly busy or going on a hard hike. I was exhausted emotionally, I was tired of crying and tired of being tired and overwhelmed and I felt like my capacity to handle much of anything was dwindling with each passing day. This, I finally admitted, was my biggest fear. To forever be restricted by this limited capacity for life, to forever be so overwhelmed that I would have to limit myself to a life where I couldn’t handle very much. This, is absolutely terrifying to me. So I let myself cry at the fear a little longer, the list of excuses, and I started to tell a select few people that I just wasn’t doing well right now, but that it’s okay, it’s just right now, and I’ll get better.
After a long eight months of up and down-ness since my particularly difficult summer I reached a new level of decision making that involved going up against the growing list of problems I was battling, the one’s that I couldn’t just fight on my own. Realizing I had been crying too much for too long over too little and that perhaps this problem I was facing went beyond what I could change myself. A couple months ago I sat in a dimly lit doctors office and watched my red blood cells float around on a TV screen. I learned that a lot of mine don’t look the way they probably should, that there are several different abnormalities visible within the shape of a red blood cell, that tell a story I had been waiting to hear for at least four years, and one that I’ve only been given the first couple pages of so far. It’s not a crazy story – not one with a diagnosis or disease, not a story of transformation, revelation, or anything that even makes me really unique. It was a doctor in a dark room who told me that not everything was the way it should be, and it was the feeling that came afterward – the unmissable feeling of complete and utter relief.
Sometimes, our biggest fear is that something could quite possibly be, all in our head. We’ve made it up, created an illusion and become prisoners to its consequences. I was scared that everything I was dealing with was either in my head, or all my fault, and it was a saving grace to hear someone tell me that I hadn’t made anything up, and that somewhere down this long and winding road we could fix it. I cannot see the end of the road, and I know there are upcoming corkscrews like the one I felt when I came home-home and tried to take a breath from the gogogo-ness of the past couple months. I wasn’t ready for it. I cried more than I wanted to and after twenty-two years I gave in and took a half-pill as though it was defeat and not a warranted solution. It is a long road.
But I’m at my cottage now – still on the hammock writing as I have been the past few days, and for the first time in a very, very long time, I feel well rested. I feel like I don’t need to borrow one of my dad’s green-tea “Calm” pills (or one from my own collection for that matter) and I’m not about to cry or fall apart because I’m overwhelmed at to-do lists or tiredness. In fact, right now, my pieces are held together nicely – they are far from healed, still held together by glue and stitches but they are held together nonetheless and I am thankful. For now, the smell of the lake and the peacefulness of the forest is medicine, and I will drink as much of it in as I can while I am here.
I love rock beaches, cliff edges, and mountains. I love things rocky. But when it comes to myself – my emotions – seasons of my life, I wish it was all smooth. I crave emotional stability and a more frequent flow of energy but despite what I want this season has been and will likely continue to be a little bit rocky. This is okay, even when it’s not, and more than anything it will get better. I will enjoy the peace that I can find in times like right now and I will look forward to down the road when this peace becomes more consistent and reliable. Until then I’ll try to remind myself that not everything rocky is bad, and when the rocky patches disperse, I will grow, I will grow, I will grow.