As we close in on our one year mark since we chose the road less traveled, I have been all but forced to reflect on all that has happened during the course of this journey. As we pulled away from our old house, I was filled with optimism and hope. I could see the future before me and it was full of peace and discovery.
Little did I know that this would all but break me. That I would be pushed to my limits as a wife, as a mother, and as a human being.
After my initial breakdown of “WHATTHEHELLHAVEWEDONE,” I was able to level out a bit and find humor in the happenings of this mountain. People would always ask me how I was doing or how I was adjusting, and my answer would consistently be an honest, “I’m okay about 80% of the time.”
Then my cats disappeared, and reality crept a little closer. They were here one moment and then taken from us right outside our door. We knew that there were greater scarier creatures, too close for comfort and there was nothing we could do about it. I felt their loss for all of about five minutes before I realized it was just the beginning of things that were not okay and I did the only thing I knew how to do. I turned it off. I stopped feeling.
The summer months brought plenty of traffic to our cabins and we were busy enough for me to not worry about all the dark little clouds floating around in my head. We found adventure on the river, and a breath of relief when our friends would come to visit. I was ok about 60% of the time.
Through the fall and the beginning of winter, I found joy in the crisp brisk air outdoors. I chose to find a new me hiding somewhere in the woods. I started putting me first and focusing on the things that made me feel whole again. I was ok 100% of the time.
100% of the time I was off of this mountain, on my own, and hiking in the woods, that is.
By the time the holidays were over and we were deep in the heart of winter, I was okay 0% of the time. The New Year brought its own set of challenges and something inside me broke. The only thing I felt was regret. Well, regret and hate. I hated this place. I hated my husband for bringing us here, and I hated myself for letting him. I regretted being a supportive wife. I regreted not having my own opinion on things. I regreted everything. EVERYTHING.
All I could think about was how I needed my friends, my old friends. The ones that know me, know me. The ones that I could crawl into bed with and be honest with. The ones that I could actually breathe the words to, “I am not ok.”
I needed sunshine, and to be warm. I needed a break, and for the first time really, I didn’t feel guilty saying that.
Thankfully, my mother had been putting off a trip to Florida for several years. My Grandparents both passed over four years ago and she had been unable to make the trip by herself to finally put their remains in their final resting place. When I burst into tears while texting my wifey just because I missed her so much, we decided to fast forward our little jaunt to Florida and headed out the very next weekend.
Now if I’m being honest, and let’s be honest, I’m only honest when I’m writing, I knew this would be a crying trip. I needed catharsis, and I was actively seeking it by going to Florida. I had held and held and held for too long and I honestly felt I was at a turning point. I could either help myself and figure my shit out, or ignore everything and become a bitter angry woman who was ready to bolt at any given moment. Thankfully, I chose the former.
My mother and I left at about 5:30 in the morning on a Friday, and after a quick ten hours of singing at the top of our lungs, we were parting ways, she went straight to our beach hotel and I drove straight to my wifes (not everyone can be your BFF, she is my wife, every woman needs a wife). It took about five minutes of me being with her, for me to verbally vomit all of my deepest darkest secrets and feelings and insecurities. She let me say everything I needed to say and only chimed in at pausing points. We drank, I held her baby, I cried a bit, and we had a slumber party on her couch. The following day, when we had to part ways, I was already feeling better. I ran around a bit, visiting other old friends that always welcome my surprise drop in visits, and my “Hey, I know its 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday but I am down the street and stopping by,” texts.
Just writing that makes me realize how much I suck as a friend. Sorry, Kristin.
Saturday evening was spent with my ex-wife/ back and better than ever BFF. Basically she called me out on all of my bullshit and we drank until I needed someone to take my phone away. We had dinner with my mother and Facebook stalked one of my husbands ex-girlfriends. We took a bunch of stupid selfies and I passed out to the sound of her snoring (sweetly) in my ear. But before that, I went to take a shower in the hotel, and dismissed them with a “carry on with out me” wave, and noted how nice it was to just be around people who know me and just love me without me even having to try. I didn’t have to think about how I looked, or what I said, or if they accidentally saw me naked, or if they know that I sleep-eat desert in the middle of the night if I take a PM medicine. I was just comfortable, and loved, and I felt it.
On Sunday we had Leslie Knope approved hotel waffles and parted ways. I dropped by unannounced again (sorry Kristin, again) to a super/stupid bowl party and then went on to have dinner and a sleepover with my mistress (it’s not what you think, seriously). And so part two of the verbal vomit began. This was basically a competition of “WHOCANTALKTHELOUDESTANDTHEFASTEST,” filled by some gasps and uh-huhs and awwwwws.
Monday, I cried all day. I cried in the empty mansion of my mistress as I tried to wrap my head around saying good-bye to all of my dear sweet friends. I unexpectedly cried at my Grandmothers grave (on her birthday). I cried at my brothers grave, even though he died before I was even born. I cried after I layed my Grandparents ashes in their final resting place. I cried when I hugged my wifey goodbye for the final time. I cried and I cried and I cried.
And I don’t really cry, like ever.
But still, I wasn’t really okay, but honestly, no one was. After four days with my closest friends, I realized we were all a freaking disaster. I don’t know if its our age, or just the stage of life we are in, but literally everyone I talked to was kind of a hot mess. None of us are really okay. We are learning who we really are, we are making choices we may regret, we are living with choices we wish we could change and we are holding on by a thread. But it’s okay. As long as we can admit that we need help, or a break, or a minute to breathe, as long as we can honestly come to one another and say, “I am not okay,” we will be okay.
It wasn’t until I was back at our hotel for the final night and I was reflecting back on the weekends events, tucked in bed with a bottle of wine, that I allowed myself to let everything go and miss home. I started texting my husband and my kiddos and realized that even though some of my heart will always be in Florida, most of my heart will always be wherever they are. It doesn’t matter if we are in the city or the woods, in the mountains or on the beach, my forever people are my family, and I always have to choose them.
“….the woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep.”
I have promises to keep.