From July-November I was in sex therapy. And one thing I learned in that therapy was the term "cheerleading" to describe when you're trying to reframe a negative thought but you overshoot and make it overly cheerful so that it isn't actually realistic or helpful.
And I tend to do that a lot.
So I've been trying to see both the bad and the good, and I make little lists in my head so that the hurt and pain are seen and acknowledged but also the joy and the wonder.
This year has been the figurative pits. I think we can all agree. For me, personally, some highlights OTHER than the global pandemic affecting us all include:
- being diagnosed with depression
- getting a divorce
- first visit to the emergency room as an adult
- worrying I have cancer
- being diagnosed with large uterine fibroids which are causing serious bladder issues
- moving across the country by myself with a little dog DURING A PANDEMIC
- ending things with my therapist of 4 years because she can't treat me long-term if I live out of the province
- struggling to find work in my new town
- working at a job which is not safe during pandemic times
- struggling to make new friends in my new town given the whole pandemic thing
- deciding to get a hysterectomy which means I have to be unemployed for probably 6 weeks while I recover
- break up with my first boyfriend post-divorce
- body image issues from my changing body shape and weight gain
- making very little progress on my doctorate and wondering if I'll run out of tuition-time before I can finish/wondering if it's even worth it to finish
- worrying I made the biggest mistake of my life by getting a divorce
If this year is teaching me anything, and it really does seem to be replete with learning opportunities, it's that the good and bad exist together. And sometimes you have to hold it all, even if it feels like things keep dropping out of your grasp.
Here are some good things:
- finally realizing that my suicidal thoughts were not normal, seeking help, having a wonderful GP who talked with me for over an hour and followed up regularly
- being successfully medicated for depression and getting a new lease on life
- realizing that my marriage wasn't working, and that we would both be happier if we separated, and having the courage to take that terrifying step
- receiving spousal support which will help me get on my feet
- finally being seen for an issue I ignored for far too long and receiving news that it's non-life-threatening and that it is treatable
- being in contact with my friends more often because FaceTime is all we have
- moving to a place where my family is, COVID isn't, and the ocean is just over the hill
- my mother's homemade baking and meals
- movie nights at my cousin's house
- squeezing my cousin's kid and hearing stories about how she's lost three teeth and started reading chapter books
- hearing Gram laugh harder than I've ever heard her laugh before in my life because of Penny, my dog
- being pleasantly surprised at how cute my apartment is in person. Much cuter than the pictures led me to believe. And it is super cheap.
- seeing the look on my Ontario therapist's face when I thanked her for changing my life and giving her a hand-made mala whose mantra was the biggest thing she'd ever taught me: "You are already enough"
- started seeing a sex therapist, whose one-on-one sessions and the group therapy sessions helped me down the path to healing my own issues
- working at a job in my field, that pays well, is super-duper mentally stimulating, and over which I have complete control #selfemployedlife
- participating in community theatre and meeting wonderful people
- having my first depressive episode where I ACTUALLY KNEW WHAT IT WAS. Turns out that makes a huge difference
- getting a hysterectomy so I never EVER have to have another IUD inserted again or worry about getting pregnant
- being one of the few people who is not devastated at the news of their pending infertility. In some weird way, I'm glad it's me who has to have this and not someone for whom being hopelessly infertile would be crippling news
- being able to rest easy knowing I have built up the savings to be okay to take time off to recover from surgery
- having a beautiful, though brief, relationship with a gem of a person with whom I hope to remain friends
- having awesome sex
- making supper quietly by myself and listening to Christmas music and feeling so peaceful and happy to be in my cozy little apartment which I love
- getting a beautiful, pink, vintage couch and chair set from probably the 70's FOR FREE because my mom thought it was hideous (lol)
- And last, but certainly not least, GETTING A DOG. Penny is unquestionably the light of my life. She brings me so much joy with her furry flat face. She's so hilarious and I am so grateful every day to be able to have her. I got teary-eyed on a walk the other day because I looked down at her and thought "Wow, after all these years I finally own a dog."
And you know, that's it, isn't it? Life is good and bad. It's pointless to weigh each one to determine whether not I'm happy now. Sometimes I worry so much I lose my appetite and sometimes I feel so deeply happy I could cry. Sometimes I lie facedown in the carpet and sob about past relationships and sometimes I revel in the joy of living by myself. Sometimes I admit the horrible things I say to myself about sex and sometimes I learn to reframe those unhelpful thoughts. I worry about the future and am amazed at my own freedom to do pretty much whatever I want with my life.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it boggles the mind how rich and complex life is. As I'm moving into End-of-Year-Contemplative-Beth-Mode, I hope to continue to dwell on both the good and the bad of the year. Both the terrible and the lovely. And that they don't cancel each other out. They exist together. And somehow when I look at my lists I find it all beautiful, in the end.