I have been feeling antsy and off-kilter for the last few weeks. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out the reason behind this dark, swirling feeling. It just sort of prowled around the edges of my day, tinting everything a shade darker.
I started sleeping less – going to bed late, as I usually do but waking up eerily early, sweaty, heart racing and unable to get back to sleep. I’d lie there, listening to Olive breathe and I’d try to match the pace of her breaths. In and out. In and out. Until it was time to get up.
I started thinking I was in a rut, a funk. I cleaned out my house, donated clothing, organized my cupboards, wrote letters, rearranged furniture. I started thinking maybe I needed a new lipstick, a different coat. I felt unsettled and uncomfortable in my own skin. Itchy. Restless.
One morning last week I woke up early again, and I lay there and looked at the light coming in the window. It was cold and grey – the colour of light reflecting off snow. And that’s when I had a sort of …flashback. That light slammed me back to last year. Waking up after the sleeping pills wore off, wishing to god I could take another one. Staring at that light filtering through my bedroom window and dreading the day that lay ahead. Getting up to a silent, empty house. Making Olive breakfast. Shovelling the walk outside, while she cried at the window. Going through the motions but feeling dead and hollowed out and numb. Completely numb.
That’s what this cold dread has been about. I’m about to start retracing my steps. A year has passed and we’ve looped around and it’s mid-November and I’m about to come up behind those deep, stumbling footsteps I left behind last year. And I’m fucking terrified.
It feels like I should be over it. I feel like it’s old news. I wish I could show up like I have been up until now, and be funny and dry and clever and strong.
By all measures, I’m in a better place than I was. But it’s all happened so fast and so hard and so hurt that I sometimes feel like I have whiplash. Things chug along nicely, and I am happy, and I feel free. And then I see the leaves falling or the first snow or the light filtering in through my window and I feel this icy fear creep into my gut because I’m so scared of what the coming months will bring.
It’s so hard not to look back. It’s so hard to not kick yourself for not knowing. It’s so hard not to feel stupid, and betrayed, and angry all over again. I feel like I’ve come so far, but as these dates approach it feels like I’m being sucked in closer and closer.
I don’t want to be closer. I don’t want to remember or be reminded by the Christmas decorations or the snow or the silence when I wake up. I don’t want to have to go through it again, even with the comfort of a year and the sweet taste of my new life between us.
There’s no real solution. Every day I wake up and the calendar has ticked over another day, it’s ceaseless. Logically, I know that this year will be different. There’s no possible way it would be like last year. Not as bad, not as raw. I already know everything I was just learning at this time last year. I’ve absorbed it. I’ve adjusted to it. I’ve become grateful for it because it let me go.
But logic isn’t any match for this. So, I’m not quite sure what to do. I try to breathe, matching Olive’s breaths. I try to close my eyes against that cold, grey light. I get busy planning a winter that will be very different from last winter. Filled with warmth and laughter and love. I think about going to talk to someone. I research and research, but I don’t make the call.
When I drive I listen to terrible pop music. Anything with a beat loud enough to drown it out and lyrics mindless enough to silence it. I turn it up, and Olive dances, and it’s so bright and so loud that there’s no way it could be last year.
There are my top 5 shame jams. Play them only in the confines of your car. Turn up the volume, make eye contact with your grinning toddler, feel your heart beat and your breath slow. Remember that you’re here, not there. Do your best.
And, obviously this isn’t a shame jam, but it’s Adele. And she’s included on all of my music lists forever. So. Sing along, would you? Extra points for dramatic expressions and chest pounding during the breakaway notes (Olive loves that)