Alive vs. Living

In 2013, I stopped living. I was physically alive, but not living any sort of life. I’d lost touch with most of my friends and stopped socializing all together. At that time, I was a terrible friend. I made plans and then flaked out at the last minute. I just couldn’t get my shit together to get myself out of the house. Eventually, those friends quit inviting me out and stopped talking to me all together and I can’t blame them. Thankfully, my life is much different today but it gives me the chills when I think about how low I was just a few years ago.

I wrote this blog post in June 2014:

There are only two things that have kept me going, my daughter and the hope that things will get better. The first thought I had this morning when I woke up was that I’m not really living anymore and I haven’t been for a while. I spend 99% of my life keeping my mind busy, so busy that I don’t even have time for emotions or dealing with hurt feelings. I’m afraid that this is as far as I’ll ever be able to get. What if I’m never able to get unstuck and move on?

I’ve watched my friends and acquaintances get promotions and new jobs, buy houses, fall in love, get married, and have babies. I’ve sat and watched it all and I’m exactly where I was 18 months ago. Only now, I have no job and all my friends moved away. I know things can be worse and I’m grateful I have a home and a way to support myself (barely), but what if this is a good as it gets? I may spend the rest of my life living in my little house alone (after my daughter grows up), taking my meds, and hoping things change. I know a large part of it is up to me, but I don’t know where to begin.

To some extent I know I’m feeling sorry for myself, but at the same time I don’t know how to change it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life scared to go out in public alone or unable to trust anyone. I just want to live again. I’ve been hiding for far too long. I suppose I’ll keep trying and hope that one day it will come together. Life isn’t the worst and I’m not completely unhappy, but I know that I’m doing a disservice to the men and women who didn’t come home. I’m wasting my life sitting at home watching life go by without me. I need a plan, or I’ll be sitting her whining about the same thing in 18 months.

Rock Bottom

I wish I could say that I made a big change immediately and started living my life, but that would be a lie. I spent over a year unemployed during the time I wrote that. I’d never felt so useless and unwanted in my life and I hadn’t even hit rock bottom yet. Rock bottom was losing my father unexpectedly in 2015. Losing him was the most devastating thing I’ve ever endured in my life. It was a pain I’ve never felt. I didn’t think I could ever stop crying. It physically hurt to lose him. I’ve seen and lived through some crazy scary things if you’ve read any of my previous posts but it couldn’t hold a candle to grieving the loss of my dad. My method of dealing with terrible things in my life has always been to stay busy.

Climbing out of the Hole

I sat at my dad’s bedside in the ICU on my laptop applying for jobs and modifying my resume. I’d applied for hundreds of jobs during that time and I got a few interviews but no offers. PTSD can be a bitch in so many ways and it prevented me from being myself and presenting myself in an intelligible way. Each time I got into an interview my system flooded with adrenaline, my body and hands shook and I couldn’t think and speak at the same time. I was a rambling bumbling mess and I cried after most of my interviews because I knew I blew it.

Then my VA doctor suggested a Beta Blocker to stifle my adrenal response so I could be myself and not panicked during my interviews. It was a godsend and it worked! The next interview I went on, I got the job and things started getting better. I don’t want to think about where I’d be if I continued on unemployed.

Even with the new job I still avoided going out and socializing. I preferred sitting at home and binge watching shows on Netflix. I longed to have a life again but I just didn’t know where to start. The advice I got was “you just have to do it.” That felt impossible for me at the time but I guess I just wasn’t ready to live yet

Living Again

It’s taken me five years to get off my ass and live again and not just exist. This past summer I did things I hadn’t done in a long time. I made plans with people and kept them. I went to brunch, a party, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding. I know to the average person these things probably seem like simple things to do, but for me these were huge things. Now that I’ve starting making the effort to live I’m taking it one step further. I came up with a bucket list of things I want to do. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and I want to stop thinking about it and actually do it.

Bucket List

The first item on my bucket list to be accomplished is a trip to Ireland this summer to see a dear friend I haven’t seen since I was a teenager. Up to this point in my life the only trips overseas I’ve been on where courtesy of U.S. government (Korea and the Middle East). It will take me years to visit all the places I want to go because travel isn’t cheap, but I’m not wasting any more of my life dreaming about it. It’s time to do it!

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