Life

2019 Nearly Killed Me – A Look Back on the Year

2019 was a year that nearly killed me and the close to a beautiful, crazy, soul-crushing, nightmare of a decade from hell. Lots of people seem to not only be doing a look back on 2019 but a full recap of the decade. While I’d like to do that, and maybe I still will sometime in January (we shall see), just summing up this year is going to take a lot out of me. (Also, maybe if this year hadn’t been so hard on me and I hadn’t let myself down in so many ways, I would have started on this post earlier and had more time to do a full decade recap.)

Warning: The rest of this post is one giant, rambling brain dump recapping my feelings about this last year. Read ahead at your own risk and/or I will see you in 2020.

2019 made me it’s bitch and I honestly feel like I’m lucky to be standing. This year tested me physically and emotionally, and looking back I failed myself at every turn. I thought 2018 was a tough year for me, but I made the most of it. I grew. I learned new things. And I started to get better. A lot of good came out of the bad of 2018.

2019 was a reset, set back, nothing of year for me.

All the personal progress and growth from the last few years went out the window. I gained weight. I got lazy and stopped eating right. I stopped running, working out, and hula hooping. All my personal projects, this blog, my book, my podcast went nowhere, stood stagnant, or maintained themselves with minimal effort. Besides the few blog posts I managed to squeeze out, I haven’t written a single thing. No journaling, no poetry, no book. And speaking of books, I haven’t picked up a single one to read. I’m still on the same page of the same book I was on when I left Hawaii.

My anxiety is at an all time high. In fact it has gotten so bad, that my husband, who didn’t even believe in anxiety, has begun acknowledging I have a problem and that I probably need some help. He’s even gotten pretty good at figuring out my triggers and seeing the oncoming signs of an attack. Making things worse, I’ve resorted back to a lot of my old emotional habits. This entire year I’ve caught myself bottling up all my emotions until I simply shut down because I just can’t take any more.

In my look back on 2018, I wrote a bit about how I had lost myself. How so much had happened over the past few years that I could only focus on surviving and in turn lost what made me, me. When I wrote that it was because I had finally accepted that and I had started working hard on finding myself again. Well, as with everything else that died this year, that did too. I resorted back to my survival mode. It felt like so much was going wrong and all of it was out of my hands and it took everything in me to just stay above water. I’ve felt myself disappearing this year. What little bit of myself had held on over the years and the tiny bit I had recovered in my work on myself in 2018, I have physically felt washing away this year and it has felt like there was nothing I could do.

So what happened in 2019? I’ll do my best to sum it up as neatly and as concise as possible.

My Mother

We started off the year moving back to California. Something I thought I desperately wanted (turns out I was wrong, but that’s a whole other post of its own).

We got back to California about two weeks from my birthday…Happy Birthday to me! And my mom got discharged the day after my birthday…happy birthday to me. Without going into detail, our original plans for my mom feel through and I ended up having to take shifts (living on my brother’s couch for the majority of the time) watching my mom at my brother’s house while we found a new facility for her to move in to. She still needed 24 hour supervision and it was the longest two weeks of my life. No exaggeration, it felt like two months.

After two weeks and countless phone calls we were able to get my mom into a new nursing home / rehab facility. Driving her there was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

The facility ended up being fairly nice and my mom spent pretty much the entire year there. In fact, up until just a few weeks ago she was still there. Despite still not being able to talk or use her right hand she was considered too high functioning and we had to move her into an Assisted Living Facility. She’s not too happy with the move, but it does offer much more freedom and independence.

My mom’s situation has been one of the hardest on me this year. Put aside the first two weeks I was living on my brother’s couch and the handful of insurance, roommate, and rehab fires I had to put out this year, watching her hurt and struggle has killed me. It’s been a year now, and my mom who was so mouthy and loud, such a talker and story teller, is stuck in her own head and can’t say more then a handful of words. To top it off, she is living in the kind of place she always said she’d rather die than be put in.

I try to go and visit her every two-three days and in all honesty it gets hard, but what’s harder is thinking of her sitting all alone with only her thoughts. I’m her daughter. I got my anxiety from somewhere. I know how scary that can be.

Career

Besides my mom, California hasn’t provided as many opportunities for success as I would have hoped. In Hawaii, I found work no problem. Good work too. The only reason I ever struggled to find work in Hawaii was timeline and military related. Towards the end people didn’t want to hire someone that was leaving, but they always showed interest.

After I moved back to California, it took me six months to find a job. I barely had any interviews in that time and at the end I got lucky and did end up with two offers to choose from, but I was getting desperate and scared. Neither of the offers paid what I needed or offered the kind of commute I was used to, but I was literally one pay check away from my unemployment running out. I jumped at one, just so I could get by.

I now feel lucky to have a job and it’s allowing me to “get by,” but it’s definitely not where I pictured myself at this point in my career.

Home

My living situation also isn’t exactly where I pictured myself at, especially after my living situation in Hawaii. I went from my own apartments on the beach to living at my in-laws in my husband childhood room. THAT IS A MAJOR BLOW TO A PERSON’S EGO. I appreciate them letting us live there and all, but it was so hard for me. I felt so trapped. It’s hard to go from having your own space and own home, to sharing with someone else’s.

Despite having a bed to sleep in, I felt homeless again.

Luckily my husband and I didn’t have to stay there too long. We were able to move into my husband’s sister’s back house, I think in April. As soon as we moved in I felt like I could breathe again. I still feel like I’ve taken a hundred steps back in my living situation, and I still don’t feel like I’m on my own 100% again, but at least I have my own bedroom, my own “kitchen”, and a space that is mine again.

We thought this move would be temporary, so we avoided making too many personal changes. However, over the past few months we’ve come to accept we may be here a lot longer than we planned and we’ve decided it’s time to turn this place into a home, any way we can. We’ve started by wall papering and we have lot of other little DIY projects planned for the New Year. I’m hoping this will help pull me out of my slump.

Friends & Family

Part of why I thought I missed California so much was because I missed my friends and family, but I’ve learned, the hard way, this year that time changes things.

I think a lot of people I was coming home to expected everything to be like it was before I left. I think a part of me even felt that way. But no matter how much I’ve tried or they’ve tried things are different. Four years is a long time and even if I or they didn’t realize it, over time we had to find ways to fill the voids left by the ocean between us. People I would see daily or weekly, people I’d talk to all the time, had to fill those times with new people and new things and my presence doesn’t really fit the same any more.

That’s not to say everything has changed for the worse or that I wasn’t able to build new relationship habits with friends and family, but there are some people that I just haven’t been able to see or talk to as much as I would have liked since I came home. Other’s, when I do see them, I can feel the change, and it’s not always a nice change.

It also, doesn’t help that by me turning on my survival mode again I have become the absolute worse at calling people, texting people, or responding to any sort of communication request.

(Hopefully I’ll elaborate on this topic a little more in the new year, but for right now I’m still processing a lot of this.)

The Good?

I don’t want to say nothing good came out of this year, although I do have to dig real hard to remind myself to focus more on the good than the bad.

The biggest good to come out of this year is I have my brother back in my life and I honest to god, don’t know if I would have survived this year without him and his family. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell him exactly how much having him back in my life means to me (and I don’t just mean for the the way he has helped with our mother), but maybe he’ll read this and that’s a start.

Being an Aunt is my favorite thing in the world, and the other great thing about this year has been being given a second chance at a relationship with my brother’s kids. I still have years of making up to do, and I will forever hate myself for not having figured out a way to do a better job sooner, but I’m loving getting to know them again!

And in the same Aunt vein, being back near my sister’s kids this year has meant so much to me. Although I don’t see them or talk to them nearly as much as I used to, a real life 5 minute visit and hug beats a 30 minute Skype call any day.

A small, but majorly important highlight to my year was being able to have my fluffy butt fur baby back in my home with me. After four years apart, being able to hug her and hold her every day has been the best feeling in the world. (I just have to ignore all the near death, vet emergencies we have had this year, that I didn’t even touch on in this post. Let’s add that to reasons why 2019 sucked!)

Looking Forward

So what do I want from 2020? 2020 is going to be my fresh start. Early on in this post I called 2019 a reset year and that is exactly how I am going to look at it as from now on. 2019 was my RESET year and next year I am going to start living again not merely surviving.

I am going to go back to all the things I was working on back in 2018 and continue to try to find myself again. In 2020 I’m going to be happier, healthier, and weirder. And I’m probably going to fail at a lot of it and in all reality I may not be a whole hell of a lot better off this time next year than I am right now, but I am going to try. I refuse to be stagnant this coming year. I am going to set goals for myself, and forgive myself when I fall short. I am going to allow myself to be myself, whoever that may be.

2 Comments

  • Lainie Taylor

    Wow Alex!! That’s is all so beautifully and honestly said. I am going to continue to follow you. I really love the way you write. On a more emotional note, I am sorry your Aunt, my mother Nancy, was not there for you growing up. I am sorry I could not do more or help more or be there for you either. I knew your father and I always loved him. He was always so much fun. I can only apologize for my parents. I can only wish they were there to help more, past present and future. You are so fortunate to have Aaron and Fabiana. They are the most honest and loyal people I know. I hope that someday we can get to know each other a little bit more. I hope that 2020 is less of a wreck for you and you receive some peace from craziness.

    • Simply Alex

      Thank you Lainie! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post. I do hope over time we can get to know each other and I am really lucky to have Aaron and Fabe around. Whether it’s better or not, I’m excited to see what 2020 has in store.

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