A year ago, I was coming out of a very dark place. I’m not going to lie… it was definitely one of the darkest times of my life. I hated the person I had become. No, that’s not right. I was indifferent to the person I had become. I was indifferent to everything. I had no energy to care. My suicidal thoughts weren’t full of anguished passion. They were casual, almost curious, thoughts about how I would do it. What would I choose? Would it be easier to just twitch the steering wheel on my way to work so that I’d slam the car into the barrier? Minimal effort, but loads of trauma & risk to others. I kind of had enough in me to care about others.
Then there were the insomnia filled nights where my over-stimulated mind had no where to go but down the rabbit hole. Those were the times I thought most about cutting. Not cutting to have the pain remind me I was alive. Cutting to let it all out. I was almost clinical in those moments. I would think about how I’d always offer my left arm to the phlebotomist when they’d take my blood because the veins were so much easier to find on that side.
My wrist would itch at the thought.
It wasn’t even that my life was so terrible. I hadn’t suffered a major loss. I had a husband who loved me and was trying to help me. I was mostly praised for the work I did. I was certainly overworked, over managed, and entirely too stressed. There were surely people in worse situations who were making life work. I just felt like everything was wrong. Outside triggers (work, loneliness, exhaustion) played their part, but self-flagellation was huge. If everything was wrong it was my fault. I had pushed so hard for the move, the transfer with work, because I was trying to escape the feeling of being trapped where I was. Had I pushed so hard that God was punishing me for asserting my will? Was I so focused on my escape that I really thought things would be better? Was I going to be dissatisfied no matter where I was or what I was doing? Some sort of inescapable character flaw that would ruin my marriage and leave me even more alone? I was feeling even more trapped in myself and needed to find a way out.
I knew that things needed to change. I also knew that I needed my husband to fully understand where my head was so we could come up with a plan. Telling him just how bad it had gotten was so hard. I was ashamed. I was worried that it would be too much for him. I was concerned that he wouldn’t believe me or think I was blowing things out of proportion, overreacting to get something I wanted. I didn’t want him to think less of me. Be disgusted. Blame. I was terrified.
But I also knew that of everyone in my life, he was the one I could talk to. My best friend. So I told him. I cried. He held me. My gentle giant cocooned me in his love and promised me we would find a way to make things change, even though it meant putting more on him.
My biggest trigger was work. It had only been a few months since we moved for my job, but the job wasn’t at all what it was made out to be. I was dealing with a combination of lack of actual support and help to do a 2-3 person job, and too much management asking for the same thing in different ways to report to different bosses. I was pulled every direction and my unreasonable workload wasn’t getting any lighter. It didn’t help that my tendency is to work faster when I have too much, instead of longer, so no one believed me that I needed more hands because I wasn’t working late. But I was burning out… fast. After just three months, I was toast. If we were going to start cutting sources of stress from our life together, my job was the first on the list.
So we crunched the numbers, determined it could be done, and I handed in my notice. In two days it will the the anniversary of my last day and it’s amazing the difference a year, a lot less stress, and a fresh perspective can have.
I went from hardly having read a single book in the previous year to twelve read in the last five months. I hadn’t really written anything in the previous five years, but since quitting, I’ve written a few short stories and started on another larger project. We sold our house and moved into a beautiful new home and I have more energy to take care of it. I’ve made new friends, played new games, returned to old favorites.
Most of my days are peaceful and contented.
Most of them.
Do I still have bad days? Yes. But they aren’t nearly as dark, just dimmer. This year has been a year of transition and most of it has gone in the right direction. I finally feel like I’m on the right path, doing the things in my life that I should be doing. I’m still on the journey of finding myself, my creativity, my health. I will be on this journey for the rest of my life and I no longer have any intention of cutting that short.