When I turned 11 I had a big sleep over, my mom is the best when it comes to birthdays, a mere week away from Christmas she had anywhere from 7-10 girls sleep over and we all know sleep was no part of that party. I don’t remember much except we snuck out and t-pee’d some boys house (sorry mom) and giggled all through the night. What I do remember the most however was my big breakdown that happened somewhere between midnight and the dawn rising. I don’t know what tripped me, was it a whisper from some girls? An eye roll? Something triggered me and I was a mess of tears and snot with a couple of my besties by my side asking what was wrong. And I spewed it all out, “no one is having fun”, “this is the worst party ever”, “no one even likes me”. Every insecurity came falling out into my pillow while huddled under my sleeping bag on my living room floor. My friends assured me that wasn’t true and soon the whole group of girls were telling me that this was a great party and they do like me. I wiped my tears and I am sure we all fell into a deep sleep for a couple hours and I woke up embarrassed but thankfully no one spoke of that moment again, at least not to me or around me.
I’d like to say I didn’t have a similar more grown up version of that breakdown on my 40th birthday, but I’d be lying. I didn’t care so much about turning 40. I mean I did a little. It’s a big number that carries big expectations. None of which I felt I met. All I could think about is I have no career. My husband is starting all over with his career. And let me say I am so proud of him! He is doing what he wants after a decade plus of doing what he felt he had no other option to do. He is moving forward and continuing his education and I can’t be more proud of him and supporting him as his wife is something I am proud of. I just wish we knew we had the permission to do what we wanted many many years ago. Or maybe mostly I wish we knew what we wanted to do years ago. And me? Me? I know what I want to do, but it’s hard. It’s me all alone pursuing a field I only know one angle of. I feel so overwhelmed and so unfit. All those insecurities that have followed me my whole life and here screaming in my face mostly at 3 am. You are not good enough. You are not educated, you are not smart enough. You aren’t a boss. You can’t run a business and it paralyzes me. I’m busy. I stay busy with the kids and I close my ears to the reality I need to get going on something. Something I know will be a good thing. But something I am not good enough to do.
So what do you do with that? Well for the past couple months I leaned into it. I agreed with it. I numbed myself with anything I could. Busyness mostly. A drink or two at night. Food. Netflix. Dr Phil (lots of Dr Phil). My phone. I turned into a sloth because a sloth is who I most comfortably turn into when I just can’t with any of it. I don’t feel like I was depressed, but maybe I was. What I felt was nothing.
I had everyone asking what I wanted to do for my 40th and I had no answer. Want a party? No! No party. I didn’t want a party. My sweet friends who know me well took me to a speakeasy but not until after they accessorized me at the Goodwill. What a great night! What a wonderful way to laugh and bring on 40. I felt so good and appreciated. Until I came home again and didn’t. The lies came back at me hard. Hitting me in the face and causing me panic. I was also celebrated again with my family and a couple close friends with wine and bruchetta at my favorite place and it was so fun. We laughed, I was gifted so many thoughtful gifts and felt so special. Until I went to bed that night and was mocked at thinking I was so loved. Then I went to dinner with my husband and one of my best friends and her husband and it was my favorite food, we had so much fun laughing and just having a nice night. It just felt like a wonderful double date with little focus on my birthday and that felt really good. Really good. I was celebrated all week long with my best friends, my close wonderful family and yet every night lying in bed I felt like an impostor.
Then we had to start a whole week of Christmas without my husband who was working and my only mantra was survive this without ruining everyone’s Christmas.
In a crowd I am happy, I am fun, I am telling stories and I am feeling my best. Home alone I am a sloth and I am unhappy. I am irritated and I am short and I don’t like who I am.
Andrew had a big project he was working on to benefit our family, but this was an addition to the insane schedule of an EMT working on the ambulance. So he was literally working or sleeping for the entire month of December. I was parenting 100% during the holidays and volleyball and Lily’s appointments and Oliver’s skating and of course two littles that demand so much of me. Did I mention I was in a car accident on December 4th and my van was undrivable. My wheelchair accessible van. I was left to driving a rental and getting Lily in and out of a van, and her fold up wheelchair for over a month. I had suffered a pulled back and tendentious in my wrist. (self diagnosed because I ain’t got time for doctors for me) I was burnt. Physically, mentally and spiritually. I was angry and I was sad. I missed my family. I missed my teammate and celebrating turning 40 any place but a hut in bora bora seemed stupid.
BUT.. but friends, but family, but being so loved I was still celebrated and I loved my birthday week. I never had a birthday week before and celebrated every day. I was so tired of myself by the end of that week, but even with the lies I was told every night, in the day light I knew I had been loved well. Despite of myself.
I can thankfully report I am finally sharing this because I pulled myself out of it. Again. I don’t know much about mental heath and depression and I never feel I can relate because I have no choice but to get out of bed. I have no choice but to do all the things because if I don’t, no one will, but I know I didn’t do these things with anything but a grumpy spirit and hardened heart.
I was able to to slowly poke and prod myself back into life by getting a plan on my bible ap because my phone has become such an addiction lately I had to replace my morning mindless scroll into something of significance.
And Disney. Disney always helps. My good friend and I took our (best friends) daughters 2 years ago to Disney and we decided to do it again for our middles who are also best friends and I won’t lie, I was dreading it a little. The travel, the leaving the kids, the leaving the husband I had hardly seen. I felt guilty for booking Lily a Ryan House stay although I know she has a great time there, I just feel better when I feel bad about something. (yes I know what I just said) But regardless we went, just us 4 and we had a wonderful time! A day running around Disneyland from open to close was a break on my body. I know it sounds weird but my wrist was not asked anything of and my back felt as good as new. We bonded, laughed, rode all the rides and can I just say Soaring Around the World makes me cry every time, can I just live on that ride? I got time with my boy Oliver that we just don’t get these days. We had such a great day and I can’t even explain the good a day at my favorite place in the world can do for all my endorphins. Plus being with my friend Jill makes me happy.
And back at home getting back to working out. I have found a gym home at Burn Bootcamp and I was unable to attend during Christmas and New Years week and it was hard for me to feel good when I had zero activity. So getting back to that routine really really helped.
Now here I sit in the middle of January with so much I want to say and do after a dark December. I am ready to jump into a new career. It will be hard. But like I say time and time again, hard is not an answer to not do something. I am wanting to write again after what felt like months of having nothing to say. I am wanting to be a joyful person that I know I can be. Do I feel stupid sharing this? Yes. Admitting I am not always a fully functional human is hard. Really hard. But it is more important to share than not. I know mental health is so important and not caring for myself in ways I know helps is detrimental to all of us. The truth is sometimes dark and not always beautiful like the split second images we capture on film and share via publicly and even I, who tends to live out loud honestly, am still guilty of just pretend all is OK. But sharing the dark brings light. It brings comfort and acceptance and that matters more than my pride.
I would love your prayers as I start a new venture. I would love 40 to be the year I made my own choices and can prove to myself I am smart enough, I am brave enough, I am loved enough and supported enough that I can do this. We read over and over in the bible that Jesus asks us to be the light and I crave to be that. I need his guidance every step of the way. I am thankful I am able to recognize the darkness to seek to have and be that light.