I feel more than see the mascara making its way down my now cold and wet cheeks. My eyes sting as the makeup melts through tears I hadn't expected. I squint, reaching for the box sitting on my coffee table, closing my eyes as I rub a tissue from it onto them, entirely worsening my mascara situation.
Sometimes you just remember shit you've been through, you know? This is one of those times.
When I started my blog several years ago, it was intense. My first entry was "I was raped," and I followed that up with many a transparent story about suicidal ideation and trauma. It was impactful. I wrote while I was in it, and that raw pain let others know they weren't alone. I gave a real-time glimpse into what I then called mental illness and now call mental health struggles.
I love the work I do now and am an open book. Sometimes I wonder, though, if it's important to talk about what it was like when I was in it. Beyond building the dreams and the goals, beyond simply saying I went from suicidal and traumatized to thriving and limitless. When you're still in it, that idea can feel so far away.
And I was so far away.
Y’all, we take so many ideas as facts. Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“I’m not good enough to [insert your answer here.” Get the job, book the gig, reach my goals - you know that inner voice.
“College is hard.”
“I can’t find a good partner. I’ll never get a date.”
You can fill in a million more along those lines, I’m sure of it.
Now pause for a second and ask yourself this life-changing question:
Does that have to be true?
It was the end of January 2019, six weeks before COVID lockdown, and I was really, really sick. I got home from two weeks of running back and forth between Boston and Vermont (where my partner Thomas lived at the time), I'd just launched my first ever coaching program, I was working with a new business coach and performing full-time, and my body just could not.
I have not done well with being sick. I don't even have to say (but I'm gonna) that not a single one of us enjoys being sick. It sucks. But then there are those of us who keep ourselves so busy that when we can't do anything, lots of shit comes up - and that really sucks.
I felt depressed. I ached not just physically, but emotionally. I found myself on the floor, sobbing, so deep into my mind I'd almost forgotten where I was, almost lost the present moment.
I heard, "Don't give up. Don't give up."
I had so much trouble getting out.
We were several days into staying inside constantly, surrounded by an ice storm Nashville just did not know how to deal with.
I went nuts. Oh, you’d never have been able to tell from looking at me - but if you took a peek into my mind, you’d say, “GIRL, you gotta get out.”
You’d be right. I so did.
The thing is, it wasn’t that easy. I haven’t historically done well being alone for that long, armed only with cassava chips and my phone. (Thank GOD my partner Thomas was there. Hugs are SO IMPORTANT.)
“Just let it go.”
We’re a year into COVID, and, quite frankly, those words couldn’t feel more annoying. How the hell are we supposed to just “let it go” when this year has changed our lives forever? How are we supposed to just “let it go” when many dreams we picture ourselves pursuing are just...not possible?
I’m guessing that, a year in, a lot of shit has come up for you. Beyond the external everything we’ve had to navigate, all of this time inside without hugs and company has had a huge impact on our internal wellbeing and mental health.
For many, this has been a time to reflect on past experiences, traumas, relationships - and that hasn’t always been a good thing.
If there’s anything we haven’t let go of, this time with ourselves is bringing it the eff up. Maybe you’ve felt depressed. Maybe you’ve ached physically, emotionally. Maybe you’ve dived so deeply into your mind you’ve almost forgotten where you were, slipping away from the present moment and sliding back into memories of the past.
I know I’ve experienced that.
So, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to work on letting go, and here’s the theme I keep coming back to: