When trying to write this post I thought long and hard on ways I may be able put a positive spin on all the crappy things that happened this past year. But then I realized that would not be an honest review.
Basically, if 2019 was a person I would want to punch them in the face, because they did me wrong.
I know a lot of people that had a hard time this year, so I am sure there are others who know how I feel. I am not one for resolutions or even to celebrate the new year too much, but this is probably the first time in my life I am really looking forward to turning the page, and closing this chapter in my life! I am anxious to leave 2019 in the dust and move forward, because even though there were some good things that happened this year, in the end it still left me feeling battered and bruised.
This post is dedicated to all those who are also having a difficult time. I want to share with you 10 things that kept me from completely falling to pieces this year, and helped me find comfort and healing along the way.
What happened in 2019 you may ask?
I started the year off with a broken heart. It was the most significant heartbreak I have had in my adult life. I was mourning a relationship that I believed would be my forever. But it was not. It was one of those situations where my head knew that it was not a healthy relationship but my heart took a lot longer to accept such a thing. It took me a long time to properly grieve the loss of everything I thought I had in that relationship and with that person. My grief was then compounded by further loss. 5 people I knew died throughout the year, one being my Uncle and one being my Grandmother. Then, there was the shock of finding out my father had been arrested and charged with 25 counts of sexual assault. He was alive, but I essentially lost the man I thought I knew, who I looked up to, and trusted my whole life. I am still processing and grieving the loss of the relationship I thought I had with him and the person I believed him to be.
If you missed my previous blogs here they are:
In summary, it was a lot of loss. There was a brief period of about a month where I felt somewhat ok, but most of the year I spent in a fog of sadness.
If grief were waves in the ocean I felt like every time I managed to learn the waters and finally get my head above the water, a new storm would start with bigger waves and again I would be fighting to learn to stay afloat. At times I literally felt as if I was drowning in sadness.
What intense grief feels like
I have learned that grief and sadness have physical consequences. You can feel it as a pit in your stomach. Your guts can feel as if they are tangling in knots, and it can hurt to the point that you lose your appetite (sometimes for days at a time). You can feel it as a weight on your chest, literally making it hard to breathe. Every time your chest rises it can feel as if the weight of the world is trying to crush you. You can feel it as a lump in your throat making it hard to swallow. You can feel it as heaviness in your eyes, where they feel like they are being pulled towards the ground until the tears flow. It can feel as if your heart is literally breaking and tearing apart, a pain that can bring you to your knees. Grief is a real thing! A real physical thing.
I am definitely a different person than I was last year. I had to dig deep and really search for strength within myself that I did not think I had. I had to be compassionate to those who hurt me. I had to be strong when I was broken. And I had to hold it together when I felt like my world was just crumbling to pieces. Instead of focusing on the lessons I learned though, I thought it would be more beneficial to share with you the things (big and small) that actually helped me find some peace amongst the chaos.
10 things that helped kept me sane this year
Crying. Lots of crying. I hate crying, especially in front of people. But this year I let the tears flow, and it helped.
Talking. I used to keep my struggles and my problems to myself, not wanting to burden anyone else. Not wanting to talk about it, or to have to explain what I was going through to anyone. But I seriously opened up this year and opened up to many people. To my surprise I found comfort and support in people and places I would never have imagined.
Therapy. I got a therapist. Talking to people in general is helpful but someone who is completely unbiased and actually has an education behind human behaviour and emotions makes such a world of a difference. I learned many simple but significant lessons from my therapist that for some reason I just could’t figure out on my own. I feel like when you are in the middle of the forest it is just too hard to see the forest through the trees, and she was able to look at my situation from the outside and see what I could not.
Writing. I started a bog! And this has been one of the most therapeutic things I have done for myself. I used to journal as a teenager and it helped me get through a lot of tough times, but as I got older and busier I stopped. This very blog has helped me share thoughts and feelings with the world that I would never have been able to do otherwise. Even if you don’t have a blog, I highly recommend journaling if you are having trouble sharing with others. It really helps to organize and review your own thoughts so that you can make sense of them.
A long hot shower. It sounds simple, but this very small thing has helped bring me comfort in those very low moments. I would just stand there as long as needed, with my eyes closed under the water until I start to feel some relief. And each time when I got out of that shower I did feel refreshed, calmed, and somewhat grounded again.
Listening to my body. I still worked out as per normal, but depending on the day and my emotional state my workouts weren’t always the best. I gave myself permission to just go with the flow. If I needed to have an aggressive heart pumping workout, I did. If I needed to just stretch and flow, I did. If I began crying midway through a workout and had to cut it short, I did. And I promised myself I would not feel guilty so long as I got in some sort of movement.
Looking at the sky. I took moments out of my day whenever the opportunity arose to just appreciate the beauty of the sky. Maybe it was a sunset, a unique cloud pattern, or a bird of prey soaring above. I took notice and I stopped even for a few seconds to ground myself and just take it all in. Somehow looking at the massive sky, and remembering that I am only a small being in this massive world, helped to put my problems into perspective and made me feel less overwhelmed.
Hugs. Whenever possible I gave and received hugs. Long, therapeutic hugs. Hugs have been proven to release oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and along with other health benefits they have the ability to reduce our stress levels.
Podcasts. I started listening to podcasts after my sister recommended them to me. I drive a lot for work and I found that this was often the time that I started to fall apart emotionally. When I was left alone with my thoughts I always felt the most sad. I started listening to podcast about becoming an entrepreneur so I was learning things that actually benefited me and it kept my brain occupied. This significantly reduced the number of melt downs I had.
Learning to be ok with not being ok. One thing I have learned about grief is that you cannot rush the healing process. You need to face the feelings and sit with them. The only way to move forward is to feel it all. You have to accept that it hurts, that you are not ok because you are hurt. It is going to suck, and that is normal and it is necessary. You feel grief because you felt love. The stronger the love, the stronger the grief.
My advice if you are experiencing grief
Talk to someone. Maybe it is a family member, a friend, a therapist, or an elder. Share your feelings. If you cannot yet talk to someone, at least write them down. If someone asks how you are, be honest, share with them that you are not actually ok. Give yourself permission to be hurt and honour the emotions you are feeling. Learn about grief and the different stages so that you can identify with and understand the feelings you are having. Find things that give you comfort in those moments when you need it most. Maybe it is a hug, a shower, a walk, or a phone call. Expect the waves of grief to continue to come. They do not stop, they just get less frequent over time, and we learn how to stay above the water when they do.
For anyone that had a rough 2019, here is to 2020! The start of a new year, a new decade, and hopefully a new start 💕
How was your 2019? If it was a difficult year, what helped you get through it?