Never in my life have I cried more tears than I did in 2017. The universe took me on a confusing, twisted and heartbreaking detour and I am VERY grateful for the collective renewal of energy and fresh start that this new year is offering for us.
This year my family lost our precious Maddison in June after we stayed by her side at the hospital for two weeks hoping and praying that she would bounce back from scary health episodes like she always had in the past. Then, I felt the gut-wrenching experience of being a powerless bystander as loved ones sank into a deeper cycle of more dangerous, self-medicating habits and behaviors.
Shortly after that, I discovered that for nearly two months I had been stalked by an ex. I was also dealing with severe sciatica that kept me from doing the things that have always helped me thru tough emotional times like cycling, running and yoga. For months, I could barely eat or make it more than a few hours without tears welling in my eyes.
By the middle of summer I was, the saddest, the most broken and the most unsafe I had ever felt in my entire life, and that’s when I found myself to be the target of a smear campaign. It began with one email sent to me attacking my character, my integrity, accusing me of being a thief, a liar and someone who always claims to be a victim. In that moment, I was crushed. How could I even spend a minute defending myself and my reputation, when I was trying to reconcile the fact that I had just literally found heroin left behind from others in my own kitchen, just a few feet away from my nephew’s bedroom.
(There were multiple attacks to not only my professional and personal reputation, but there were harassing letters and threats also aimed towards my family members, close friends and even an employer, as if they were hoping that I would lose my job– not even close <3)
So as 2017 threw a dash of humiliation, anger and disappointment into my well saturated concoction of gloom, I decided that I outta screw a big old lid of guilt over the top to bottle it all up and put it all aside. I was running out of time and lost track of my own life. I had missed deadlines for financial aid in order to go back to school in the fall. I also had no been able to do any kind of apartment searching and my lease was expiring in a few weeks.
I had NO back up plan.
I was accepted and already had classes picked out at UW-Milwaukee, but I felt let it was a dead end. After a week or two of ruminating and discussing with friends and my mom, I decided I should take a chance and move to Chicago. I needed to be back in a bigger city with an abundance of creative opportunities.
After I had been in the city for a couple months and finally felt comfortable getting around the area on my bike, I was hit by a car on my way home from work one night. Almost two months have passed since the crash and I am still working thru post-concussion syndrome.
This is when the lid finally popped off all of those nasty scary emotions I had bottled up at the end of the summer. I was able to identify the guilt I was carrying with me. I felt guilty for putting all my energy and attention into my family while letting myself go in some ways. I felt guilty for leaving my family and coming to a totally unfamiliar place. I felt guilty for not being able to tap into any creative energy in order to make art. I felt guilty for not standing up for myself. I felt guilty for letting go of my long term goal of returning to school to finally study neuroscience, something I once felt so much passion about. I felt guilty about identifying as a victim in my bike accident. I felt guilty that my recovery was taking so long.
I am about to approach my five month mark here in Chicago and as tough as the process has been, I have found myself closer to my family than I ever have been before. I have also found myself in the company of an amazing person and feel as though I am on the brink of creating a beautiful life in this city.
Only time will tell of course, but I don’t want to end this on a sad and gloomy note. Coming out of all this chaos, I am feeling the happiest I have felt in years.
I have been wanting to write about this for quite a while, but I haven’t been able to find the right words. I honestly may never go back to re-read this, but I know it is important part of my healing process from this trauma. I feel urged to share this whoever is drawn to read it, because I want it to serve as a reminder that what is shared on social media is not the entire story of any person’s life.