eleven.

hi. happy new year! i am sure you know by now that the word ‘resolution’ makes me cringe every single time i see it. social media is practically graffitied with the word resolution right now. and it’s not that i don’t think it’s awesome or great to start the new year off on a certain kind of foot. no, it’s not that. it’s just that the word resolution almost ensures that there will be this immense, torturous pressure looming. that one wrong step or one carbohydrate will send you down this tunnel of doom. that if you don’t actually hit ten thousand steps in a day- well, the world will implode. and while i am the queen of creating my own dramatic narratives and that implode might be a bit too much- for me, it just feels like there is this weight. hanging over me when i try to create some grand plan for the new year. instead, i like to pick a word for the year. and in case you’re wondering, no. my word is not eleven. i haven’t picked one yet. i know, i know! it’s the second and i am already behind! see?! that’s why i didn’t make a resolution. selfish, i know. but the truth is. right now, my brain feels connected to several words for the year ahead. and i am waiting for one to hook itself to me and latch on before i make my choice to leave the others for another time. and i promise, you’ll know my word when it comes to me. but for now, i am just kinda living right here. in this space. the one that i always talk about. there’s a lot happening right now. and while i am working really hard to not let myself spin out of control, it takes a lot of work to tame the trauma. to stay low to the ground. to ignore the news. to drown out the mass amounts of misinformation on the internet. to not feel shame in traveling. to not panic on a flight filled with anti-maskers. to control what i can control. oh man- it takes almost all of my energy. and as we enter a new year & leave behind one of my least favorite ones- it feels heavy to try to fix everything that didn’t go my way in the previous three hundred and sixty five days. and right now, there’s just a lot of trauma resurfacing. and trust me, people roll their eyes at me all the time when i say that. and i have honestly stopped giving a shit. because my trauma is my trauma. and your trauma is your trauma. and there is literally no shame in that. in whatever broke you or stripped you of parts of you. maybe it’s a person. or a place. or an event. maybe it’s a lot of things, all strung together. maybe it’s just a day in your life or if you’re like me, a whole eighteen months. maybe it’s something no one else knows about. or maybe everyone knows. either way, it’s yours & it matters. if there is anything that i have learned in the last two years; it’s that no one cares more about healing from your trauma than you do. there! i said it. the ugly truth. because what hurt you or broke you or shattered you or pushed you eighty five steps back- well it belongs to you. it impacted you. it made its mark on you. and while other people should be as invested in helping you heal; it just doesn’t always go that way. and right now, some of my trauma is right back on the front page of every newspaper. it’s on every single grocery store sign. it’s at every pharmacy. every work email. every instagram story. the virus. the one that wrapped it’s neat little claws around me two years ago and tore me up one side and down the other. that one. and while my fear of contracting it doesn’t have a heavy grip anymore; the trauma induced anxiety often visits. flashbacks and panic attacks. vivid sensations and reminders. smells and sounds. lots of triggers are back & present.

a few weeks ago, my college roommate called me. she and i go way back. like two thousand eight way back. we don’t talk often and that’s okay. we love each other from across the country. but anyways, it was strange to see her call. because we just don’t talk on the phone like that. but regardless, i picked up the phone and the first thing she said was- “how the hell did you do this without a vaccine?” instantly, i knew she had the new variant. and it brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to every inch of my skin. she said it again. “how the hell did you do this without a vaccine?” i laughed. not a funny laugh. an exhausted laugh. the kind you laugh when someone finally gets it. but it’s too late or it’s the wrong person. in this case, my fully vaccinated college roommate has the virus. she also has an infant who can’t be vaccinated. and the virus didn’t grace her due to poor practices or lack of diligence. it came from someone else’s ignorance. but the point is- how did i do it without a vaccine? honestly, i don’t know how to answer that one. there are days when it felt like i was treading water but the water was syrup. other days, it felt like i wasn’t doing anything to put up a fight. some days, i prayed to anything that moved. and other days, i planned my funeral. people say i have this fight inside me. and maybe that’s true. who knows. people say i did whatever i had to do and honestly, sometimes that doesn’t feel true either. and i think that’s exactly how i got to this point right here. all of things other people say stacked next to me. next to me and the traumas that i carry with me. believe me, i have tried to drop them off or leave them behind. tried dumping them with someone else or stripping them off in a therapy session. i have literally tried handing them off and i have tried to ignore them. i have pretended they don’t exist. i have even gone as far as to agree with those who have told me to move on from them. but trauma doesn’t go away just by telling it to ‘talk to the hand’. and it definitely can’t go anywhere when you’re in the deepest parts of healing while also grieving while also entering year two of a raging pandemic. it just doesn’t pass the vibe check. and so yeah, i have stopped asking people how they feel about my trauma. and more importantly, i have stopped caring how others feel about my trauma. because there are people who laugh at it or scoff at it or brush it off. and that’s their business. not mine. and maybe that’s the biggest step i have taken in healing this broken mess that i currently am. and sure, you can scream at me for saying that about myself. but again, that’s your business, not mine. because i know what’s going on inside me. i know what still feels lost and torn. i know what is held together with glue and twine. i know what will never be the same and i know what never left. it’s hard to explain it all. it really is.

and tonight, i asked my husband if he loved me. a question i probably ask him twenty times a day. and his response is always ‘of course i do’. and i asked him, ‘well do you still love me even though i am not the same person you met ten years ago?’ he paused and said ‘well, of course i do’. and of course, i questioned that and he said ‘it’s just one of those things that’s hard to explain. but yes, i still love you. even after all the years.’ and that’s the thing. there have been many versions in the time my husband has loved me. versions not even worthy of remembering. versions that lasted a whole year. some versions only lasting a month or two. like when i had an obsession with lularoe. or when i broke my nose. or when i dyed my hair green. or when i started wearing makeup. or when i tattooed my eyebrows. or when i had no hair. or when all my skin peeled off after my second round of chemo. or when i had my breasts amputated. or the whole year i have existed without nipples. or the six months we lived apart while i was in treatment. dozens of versions. and this one, well- lots of people love this version. and me, well- i feel indifferent. i feel incomplete. but it’s me. and my traumas. and we are here. asking to be loved. and it’s exhausting. but i hope no one gives up.

because i fought hard to be here through a virus. without a vaccine. and i battled through chemo. without a peep. and here i am, eleven months in remission today. and the trauma feels big. and the world feels the same. and the healing feels hard. but that’s okay. because i have eleven months behind me. and that’s pretty incredible.

so here’s to eleven. and to whatever word i choose for this year. and to anyone who holds trauma. it’s okay. it’s yours. keep it and respect it. learn from it and heal alongside it. and to those who continue to love me while i can’t love myself, you’re the real mvps.

xoxo.

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