Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary.
I got married in Tiburon, California at 4pm, on the waterfront, with about 80 friends and family. My bridesmaids wore red and we bought all of the flowers from Safeway; a riot of reds, oranges, and pinks. We skipped the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, the throwing of the bouquet, and the cake cutting. The DJ absolutely killed it; the dance floor was packed all night. I danced my ass off and I was beaming with happiness; exploding with it, really.
My wedding was one of the absolute best nights of my life.
July 1st also marks the year anniversary of when I felt so completely out of control and so utterly terrified, that I ended up in the hospital. I spent the first night (my 11th wedding anniversary) in the ER on suicide watch with an armed guard outside of my room, and the 3 nights after that in a mental health facility.
I had to leave my family that night. I had no choice. I couldn’t be at home with my husband, he was the direct cause of my distress. During our absurd attempt at polyamory, he left me emotionally for another woman. His rejection and abandonment of me triggered my PTSD (though we didn’t know that was what it was at the time). I asked him point-blank that night to pause polyamory. He looked at me, at my broken terror-stricken face, and said, ‘NO’. So I did what any emotionally threatened creature would do; I flipped my shit and threatened to stab him and myself.
I don’t remember any of that.
It’s been a year. A year since my brain felt as though it was unraveling. A year since I ended up at the bottom of my rollercoaster, my hole in the sidewalk. I was underwater, living at the bottom of my dark, cold lake. I couldn’t breathe and I wanted to die, not because I wanted to give up, but because I wanted to make the pain STOP. My brain was in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze and, unless you have PTSD, I cannot begin to convey what that feels like. It is like living in a nightmare you cannot wake up from.
That night, in my most desperate hour, I reached out to the man I loved, my best friend, the father of my beautiful children, and he said NO.
It’s been one trip around the sun, and here I am. I am still alive. I didn’t stab anyone (yay!). I didn’t try to kill myself in some dramatic fashion (double yay!). All I wanted was an out. I wanted the pain and the terror and the confusion to STOP.
I was not ok. Not by a long shot. For months and months.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t give up. There have been times over the past year that I thought about driving myself to the hospital again, but I didn’t. I keep fighting and choosing life.
And you know what? I am ok. In this moment, I am absolutely ok. I might wake up heart weary and exhausted tomorrow, but I have come to trust that the hurt always passes and won’t swallow me whole. And every single fucking time I cry and rage and scream, I walk away stronger.
And better. And healthier.
My therapist told me recently that I am on a new trajectory. It is an exhausting and sometimes debilitating path, but it is MY path and I keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I try not to look behind me at what could have been or what should have been.
I try to keep my gaze on the horizon and the path at my feet.
I have come SO FAR and learned SO MUCH about myself, life, love, loss, grief, patience. It is amazing how much I have grown over this past wild and crazy year. I still hurt but I am not running from it. I am sitting with the hurt and the pain and making room for it in my life and in my heart. Not a permanent residence, mind you. But a place to stop by and visit.
Here are just a few of the things I have come to understand about love and life and making sense of this crazy whacked out world we live in:
Live your life.
Feel your feelings. DO NOT IGNORE THEM. They will find you eventually and be explosive and terrifying. Let them in like old trusted friends. Take the time and make the space. It will be hard and scary but worth it.
Find the balance between loving with a reckless abandon, being vulnerable, and not losing yourself to anyone. Ever. Have boundaries and surround yourself with people who lift you up. Do your best to be allergic to the soul scrapers.
First and foremost because you are worth it and nothing in life will make any sense if you don’t have this figured out first. Be gentle with yourself.
You are not alone.
No matter what your brain tries to tell you at 4 am when you’re curled in the fetal position, you are not alone. You are never alone. There are people out there who love you and are rooting for you. Your tribe is out there. Go and find them.
Of expectations of any kind. Of rules; preconceived standards that society dictates we follow. Be yourself, let it all hang out. Embrace openness, vulnerability, connection, and you. Your physicality, sexuality, all of your parts. There is no one like you in this entire wacky world. Why would you hide? Come out and play! Bask in the sunshine, be fierce and amazing.
I love you guys!
It’s going to be a great day!