What the hell has been going on with me this year?

The pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, myself included (billionaires notwithstanding). In addition, 2021 was an especially difficult year for me. I dealt with toxic living situations, an assault (well, two in one day) and family issues. There were a dozen other little things in-between.

Still, I had quite the reserve of tools and skills to not only withstand all the stress but thrive in it. By surprise very late in the year, I found myself moving to my own place for the first time in well over a decade. I was over the moon. It was the best thing that happened to me all of last year.

Things in my life calmed down and fell into place. I had my own place, I had peace, I had work that was fulfilling and profitable. I realized in early 2022 I could finally look more than a few months ahead and start planning for things and goals. Publishing, vacation, life planning.

That all started unraveling the moment I took any action on it. Contacting a genealogist and forecasting budgets for a couple months in Europe next year? Laid off 72 hours later. Started a new permanent job a few months later, just blocks from my apartment? Within 2 weeks the person I replaced wanted her job back. Someone who had been in and out of my life finally showed up and was ready to stay? Whoopsie, he was married.

It’s been a non-stop shit-show of people telling me I’m so amazing and deserve better then turning around and letting me down by choice. And the impact really can’t be summed up in a paragraph or two. Collectively it’s been so traumatic that I’ve had to start EMDR therapy and possibly antidepressants. I could barely put sentences together. My writing ground to a halt because I couldn’t organize my thoughts. I’d wake up crying and stumble around in a fog all day. I was the closest to suicidal I’d been in years. Didn’t really bode well for healing and self-care, to be sure.

Slowly, one session at a time, therapy helped. I started having not good, but less-terrible days. I got back into the gym. I took a look at my diet and fixed some issues. But still everything weighed on me. I couldn’t figure it out. I knew all of the feelings and thoughts were there and continually processed them, why wasn’t I getting anywhere? Was it grief, depression, trauma… all of the above?

There was a part of me that felt particularly stuck about discussing the infidelity. Even though I knew it wasn’t my fault and I had instantly forgiven the person who dragged me into it. I was still waylaid and frustrated by it, by so many things I struggled to articulate. Nobody seemed to understand how I felt and yet it was clear to me that given how common infidelity is that I should have found someone I could relate to.

So I started writing about that. My frustrations in the solitude and social rejection.

In the process, I found exactly one (1) study about extramarital partners and something about it just clicked within me. It was like a chisel cracking an enormous boulder. If that boulder had rested on my shoulders (and it sure felt like it), it now lay shattered around me, in jagged chunks all over the ground. A huge mess, but finally something I could manage by myself. I could clean it up and arrange the shards however I felt necessary.

I was initially quite nervous about writing and publishing the essay about it but it’s been well-received so far (according to my royalty reports on Medium). The mostly-warm reception has tripped something within me and I feel empowered to speak out about this again. I think I just needed to know that I was not actually alone and that I had science to back up how I felt.

I don’t feel any less burdened by what has happened to me this year, but I do finally feel as though I can handle it all. Finding a job in Los Angeles while also healing from intense and extreme heartbreak is no easy feat, especially when paired with all the other little surprises life has to offer. But I can finally grab all the pieces with my own bare hands and do something with them.

Earlier this year I’d sketched out plans. Working on novel draft(s), submitting to journals, earning a certain figure from freelancing. I’ve not really been able to pursue any of that, and I think I’ll be content this year just remaining in the groove I have found. Finding my voice again, using it the only way I know how, and hoping others hear it.

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