This was the place in the story where I originally thought I’d start this blog – how often do things really end up how you think they will? Parts of this post actually go back as far as January, though I’m sure I’ve teased out a lot of those original unfinished knots. Let’s be real here: when you’re about to publicly tackle the dimensions of the dark and twisties, you definitely have to be in the right space. How on God’s green earth would I neatly unpack the situation I was in, particularly while maintaining the honesty and integrity of my journey while still protecting the privacy of my coconspirators – and myself? What situation was I even in? For the sake of all that I just referenced, it’s probably fair to tell you that between this and a gander at my bank statements after a month of not getting called in to work, I had a full-blown panic attack later during the day that I wrote this next part.
“There can be beauty in getting lost. Sometimes we have to get lost to find each other and sometimes we find each other, only to get lost all over again. We can’t always control it, the thing that’s going to set you adrift. And as you stand there on your front porch staring at the life you are about to leave behind, you have to accept it’s gone, it’s lost. Just like you. All you can do now is stand very still, breathe in the moment and try to be open to wherever the wind’s going to take you next.” – Meredith Grey
In January 2016, I posted a quote to Instagram that I’d lovingly scrawled on my chalkboard. I sourced the quote (from Grey’s Anatomy, obviously) as I was crafting my goals for the new year. I knew I was on the verge of change – graduation was impending, relationships were shifting, and my beautiful mutt of a dog was on her last legs. It just fit my situation… I felt lost, and I knew life was about to get messy. My mother often likes to remind me that I don’t do change well and never really have. Her favourite anecdote revolves around surprising three-year-old Brittany with new “big girl” curtains that resulted in me – inconsolable – “WHY DO THINGS HAVE TO CHANGE, MUMMY?” I’ve never been very open to where life’s going to take me. Like I stated last time, in this period of life, living meant “passively observing one moment, and digging my micromanagy claws into the next”.
One late afternoon that spring, I was camped out at Beatnik’s Bistro with a friend over a bowl of honey mustard chicken wings and yam fries. I was squawking about all my troubles, likely attempting to rewrite them into some pleasant narrative [see why I’m hesitant about writing all this down?], when she spoke the most startling realization into my life. “You’re always running around putting out fires you have burning all over your life. Don’t you want to not have so many fires?” I’m not sure if it horrified me because I’d been hiding from that fact for years, or simply because she clearly identified how flawed I was – with specific examples …almost needless to say, I ended up back in counselling about a month later when I stopped being about to run from problem to problem; we’d put the dog down, I was taking space from a friend, and my final semester of university was not going well. I had run out of space for error.
Despite my awareness of all the fires, I was still putting up an exhausting fight against change. By August 2016, my resistance was contributing only to a rather unmanageable existence. I like to describe the events that followed as “Life Tetris”; where you can only handle so much, so fast, for so long before it all piles up. Too many of my closest relationships began to flounder. I had ended up in the friend zone again. Things with my family were tense. My final semester’s worth of grades were barely passable and I began to resent what and where I was studying. Then I finished my full-time studies and the debt repayment letters began rolling in. I applied for 60 jobs and lack of sufficient prospects and callbacks meant that I ended up with 3 jobs and a 70-90 hour work week, and an income that didn’t come close to reflecting the hours I was putting in. I didn’t open any mail that came from a banking institution because I didn’t want to know how many digits-worth of debt I had. Every time a phone or email notification came in, I froze, always believing it was another commitment, reprimand, or failure looming there in my inbox. When I graduated high school, I held that (supposed) millennial belief that I was bound for greatness, but the reality 6 years out was that greatness was basically just a day that included chicken nuggets. I felt chronically unattractive. That was probably compounded by the fact that my body was a total mess. Basically I couldn’t wear pants with buttons anymore; I would physically swell all day long. I stupidly chalked it up to stress-induced university weight gain. That explained the clumps of hair that came out in the shower, the horrific skin, and sweat that poured down my face all day long, right? To tell you the truth, even just stepping back into it now, I can feel the heaviness settle on my lungs again; I felt completely trapped. Whenever I wasn’t working or at my Twelve Step (another story for another day), I was camped out in my bed; crying, staring at the ceiling, and mourning the life I thought I was supposed to have that had completely evaded me. This continued throughout the fall.
The morning after my girl Hillary lost the election south of the 49th, I broke. I came to the conclusion that if she could get out of bed on November 9 and be a grown ass woman, then so could I. Between that and a blood pressure spike of 169/96 the same week, I finally found the motivation to quit one of my 3 jobs. I set a date to move to Maple Ridge. I cut the foods that were rotting my brain and my body (I still miss you, brie). I had a consultation with my surgeon about a breast reduction, and went in for blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound to help me deal with those pesky ovaries – and yes, that was one-hundred precent as awful as it sounds. I realized that if I wanted my life to change, I had to change my life. I had to surrender to the fact that I was lost. I had to stop running to put out fires and just let them burn. I had to let the blocks pile up and wait for the new game to start. At some point I’ll explain how messy those processes really were, but for now I’ll just ask you to not romanticize it, because it was the farthest thing from elegant or smooth.
As for that quote, I keep telling myself that once it feels less relevant to my day-to-day I’ll erase it and replace it. Two moves later and it’s still there.