twenty seventeen.

To say this year has been ridiculous would be an understatement—I have been tripping all year. Nothing makes sense, and I have more stories from this year than I know how to write. It’s been hilarious, appalling, unbelievable, and absolutely beautiful all the same.

There have been a lot of significant moments. I’ve cut ties with those closest to me for my own health. I’ve somehow become a minor celebrity in Milwaukee—uncannily running into someone every day. I’ve traveled near and far. I met a lot of white supremacists. I’ve hired incredible people, and have faced some of the hardest employer-related decisions. I’ve committed acts of stupidity, vandalism, impulsiveness, and came out with a lot of ridiculous stories. I ate a lot of incredible food. I drank a lot of PBR. I took a lot of risks. I quit a job that was killing my soul, and I became a full-time freelance writer. I’m living the fucking dream.

Logistically, a lot has happened, but this year has signified so much more for me.

I don’t have the words to wrap it up in a nice little bow because so much has been unraveled.

I’d spent much of last year healing physically and battling all of the mental repercussions that came with it. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to dig deeper, and I haven’t for years. This year I’ve been able to dig into pain that has been sitting while still dealing with the absolutely insane day-to-day, too.

At the end of it all, I regret nothing.

That being said, I’ve learned some hard lessons.

It has often felt like the worst year of my life.
I’ve grieved, and I’ve loved, and I’ve lost. I have learned a lot from pain. I’ve learned a lot from poetry. I have learned so much from oppression, from injustice, from abuse. I’m learning to say those words and know that they’re true. I’m learning to recognize the gaslights and turn them off. I’ve learned what narcissism looks like, what pure evil looks like, and how to set strict boundaries. I’m learning that my worth does not lie within others actions, that the respect I deserve is not a negotiation. I’ve ripped off, and I am still ripping off all of the bandaids that covered gaping, oozing wounds, and I’m healing. I’m finally learning to heal from the inside out.

I know now that I am in control of my life, despite it being out of control most of the time, and it is damn beautiful.

I’ve still got a lot to learn. I have car alarm heart, but I’m learning to sing along to the tune. I have laughed more earnestly than I have in a lifetime. I have gasped for air harder than I did when I thought my lungs were giving out; I didn’t think it could be harder. In the same breath, I didn’t think it could be better.

I have met some of the most incredible people of my entire existence this year alone, and honestly, they’ve gotten me through some of the hardest parts. They’ve taught me that people can show up, will understand, and can be safe. I now know that despite the awful people I’ve endured, there are good people out there, and I know this because they’re tried and true.

For the first time in my life, I’m breathing easy and I know I’m safe, and that is a groundbreaking statement.

I don’t have the words to express how thankful I am.

Maybe it was the worst year of my life—it’s been a fucking whirlwind. Maybe that pain can’t be undone, but I can’t explain how excited I am for what’s ahead, knowing I have a lot more learning to do, knowing that solid people are right beside me.

dichotomy. 

I live a lot of lives, but there are two in which I walk a very defined line. 

Last October, I caught a virus that spiraled into a viral pneumonia, that spiraled into a “super bug,” that spiraled my anxiety out of control. I was in the hospital for roughly two weeks. There was one point where I came home, but still could barely breathe. I went back to the hospital a day later. One of my employees told me recently that he thought I might die. I never told any of them, but the thought crossed my mind too. 

There are stories upon stories, layers upon layers of how complex this story is, and how complex it still is when I get sick—and there’s a time and place for those. 

This one is about aftermath. 

Most people know me as the easy-going, generally happy, funny lady who takes things head-on. That is me, most of the time. 

There’s a switch in me that flips sometimes, though, and it feels like the world might end, despite all of my rationale. 

It’s been a journey, like many chapters in this story. 

I haven’t had a full-blown panic attack in nearly a year. I’ve worked through a lot, managed my anxiety to the point where I don’t need medication, and I can handle most things thrown at me.
But there’s a flip that switches, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Sometimes your world will get turned upside down, sometimes things will happen that are entirely out of control, and it doesn’t help to act like that won’t change you. It doesn’t help to act like anxiety and depression are words we’ve made up, when no one would choose these experiences. 

So, some days I can’t breathe. Some days I wouldn’t get out of bed if it weren’t for the fact that people physically lift me out. Some nights my sweats aren’t because I keep my apartments’ thermostat at a billion degrees. I don’t know how much of it is genetics. I don’t know how much is experience. I don’t know how much of it is PTSD. Sometimes there’s a cloud over me that all of my strength can’t get rid of, and an anxious heart that can’t be settled.

But it never lasts forever, even if it feels that way.  

The flip switches back. The sun comes out. The breathing gets a little easier. The air, a little sweeter. 

It’s hard to see the end when you’re stuck in the middle, and it’s excruciating to deal with it alone. We are a resilient bunch, but we are much stronger by numbers. 

It’s not easy, I just think it’s worth talking about. I don’t want to run from any tunnels anymore. 

I don’t want to fear half of my dichotomy.