So, it's been awhile. I am sorry, but hey, I am back! Or at least I think I am back. Hmmmm? Who knows, really, but for now, I am back . . . yay! Can I just say it feels pretty incredible sitting in front of this computer screen again. I have so many stories I want to share, but first, I think we need to talk. Yeah, it's January 31st, so let's talk:
I took this past year off from the blog because I was struggling with anxiety. Wow! Okay, that was easy.
But it wasn't easy, and it still isn't. I seriously feel like I am struggling with a mild form of PTSD. Now, I am in no way trying to belittle what soldiers and front-line workers experience because what they have seen and experienced is so much more than anything I have endured, and true PTSD is crippling; however, and this is a big however, the year leading up to our move to Winnipeg was very, very difficult on me. I really do not want to spend another moment reflecting on that year, it seriously sends me into a tail spin, but if you are new to the blog, you can check out any of my blog posts from October 2015 to August 2016 and you will get the gist. It was hard.
Anyhoo . . .
We moved to Winnipeg in August 2016, and here I am in a brand new city . . . a city! Not the Artic, a city. I have sidewalks and an IKEA. I am reunited with my hubby, and we are actually able to have a legit date night every Friday night. My Baby Girl is finally healthy and is loving university life in Toronto. Needless to say, I was jubilant. I had everything I wanted. I had climbed that steep, aruous mountain, and now it was time to rest and bask in the sunlight. Unfortunately, I was having a really hard time trying to relax. My body, which had been relying heavily upon adrenaline to survive the past year, seemed to forget how to turn the adrenaline drip off. Suddenly, just driving by a children's hospital would send me into a full-blown panic attack: "What will I do when the kids get sick?". For me, it became a matter of when and not if. One day, I had a panic attack as I walked by a nursing home: "I am going to be all alone someday!". The thoughts of not growing old with my friends and my siblings terrified me. The list of fears that crippled me was endless. If Derrick called me in the middle of the day, I immediately assumed he was calling to tell me that he had lost his job, or that something terrible had happened back home. I could barely breathe.
Thankfully, I was quick to recognize what was happening, and I took it seriously. I worked really hard at just enjoying each moment. I stopped blogging. My brain was too scattered to reflect upon and write about my day, and I felt far too vulnerable to put myself out there. Then I started managing my symptoms through daily thirty-minute workouts, getting outside each day, and talking about my crazy fears with Mr. Level-Headed and my sisters. When it would get really bad, and it still does at times, I do a "grounding" exercise, which helps me to get out of my head and to focus on the tangible things around me. After speaking with my doctor, he told me a lot of my anxiety has to do with low estrogen levels - Hello! It's called being an old lady who just finished nursing two babies consecutively for four straight years . . . sheesh! Getting old is no joke.
I thought I was managing things pretty well until Christmastime this year. One of the deals I made with God, when Derrick told me about this job in Winnipeg, was that if I could not be around to care for my loved ones then He needed to do it for me. He also needed to give me plenty of time to heal from everything I had endured the previous year.
Well, He gave me a year . . . hahaha! He is so generous. (Insert winky, smily face emoji here).
In November, one of our bestest friends in the entire world, Anthony Walker, called to tell us he had Colon cancer - the same cancer that Mr. Level-Headed's cousin, Adam, had battled and eventually lost his life to two years before. Then, Zoe called one evening from a Subway restaurant, where she had to stop on her way to the library because she was too weak to take another step thanks to her symptoms returning a month before. After a brief hospital stay and many tests, it was confirmed that Zoe's super immune system once again grew bored and had decided to attack her small intestine . . . in other words, she has Crohn's Disease.(insert eye rolling and sobbing emoji here)
THEN, as if I needed anything more, I found a small lump on Leif's arm. I must have been a sight when poor Mr. Level-Headed returned home from work that day: I literally could not speak. I was screaming on the inside, but I was not uttering a sound. Tears rolled down my face and my body was shaking uncontrollably. That was my breaking point. All of my fears had come to fruition, and rather than face them, my body was shutting down.
Before I go on, I want to shout out that Leif is fine. We went to the doctor, who at the time did not feel it was anything menacing, assured me it was probably a piece of scar tissue and sure enough, within two weeks it was completely gone. Thank goodness!
As for Anthony and Zoe, they are dealing with their diseases. They are strong and hopeful, and thankfully, they are both receiving tiny miracles each day to help them cope. It's all we can ask for.
By the time I arrived home for Christmas, my stomach was in a knot, I could not eat and I could barely breathe, but bit by bit, I began to relax. After two weeks home with my family, all of my kiddos gathered under one roof, a sleepover with my besties, lots of Vito's pizza, and the best hug of my entire life (Yes, Anthony, you are super star), I am feeling strong again.
Everything is going to be okay.
I have to tell myself this at least a million times a day, but it is true. And if isn't okay, well, then I will deal with it at that time. For now, I just need to breathe, I need to be gentle with myself, and I need to put one foot in front of the other, knowing that I can do hard things if I need to. I have proven that.
Gosh, it feels good to be back!