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Swimming With My Boots On [A redaction, an explanation and an apology]

Posted Oct 29 2013 4:17pm

I’m a mess. I don’t know how else to explain this. I have no way to make it funny or probably even interesting. I’ve been teetering on the brink of the abyss ever since we moved. Scratch that, ever since I knew it was a possibility we were moving. Don’t get me wrong, the move was the right choice to make for my husband’s career and consequently for our family and I don’t want to sound ungrateful but there is a reason that moving is considered the third most traumatic life event after death of a loved one and divorce.  And while I’ve moved a ton in my lifetime, for whatever reason, this time has been the hardest. It just has.

But while the move was the life event that unmoored me – both physically and emotionally – it was the anniversary of my friend Steve’s death that was the catalyst for the actual breakdown. While I am very very sad he died (as is everyone who knew him), I kind of made it the focal point for all my issues right now. Rather than deal with all the things I don’t want to think about, I put all my pain and frustration into this one event; I’ve been needing a big, gut-wrenching, ugly cry and this anniversary finally gave me a reason to do it.

However, I’m not happy with what I wrote about him on Monday. While it was all true and how I felt, it didn’t need to be blarggggged all over the Internet like that. I will delete most of that post (all the parts about me) and just leave the happy bits about Steve to stand. I don’t normally do that – gotta own my mistakes – but this time my mistake affects so many more people than me and I feel it’s not fair to let my emotional breakdown rain on them.

Here’s the thing I’ve not wanted to admit out loud: Since Steve died, my career has kind of died. This is really hard for me to write. It wasn’t Steve’s death per se – although he was an invaluable resource and connected me with a lot of great fitness people so his loss was immense professionally as well as personally – but more the timing of everything. My second book which was due out last year got swallowed up when my publisher went out of business during the recession. Since they had already paid me for the manuscript they owned the rights and while I’m sure I could go to court and get the rights to it back, that takes time and money I just don’t have. Plus, the book was kind of time sensitive. It wouldn’t make much sense to print it now. And that was a huge loss to me. I put a lot of time and work and heart into that book and to have that all… gone. It’s just. I don’t know. Gah.

And then there’s my magazine work. I’ve stagnated. Sometimes I feel like a sell out. But because I need it to pay the bills I keep doing it. That year when Steve and I were working together I felt like I was doing some of the most exciting work I’ve ever done and I felt like things were going nowhere but up. If you’d asked me a year and a half ago where I thought I’d be right now, I’d have given you some great, grand answers. But instead, I’ve backslid. Part of it was necessary for my health, I couldn’t keep going at that pace, but part of it is just me sucking. And that hurts.

Plus, and I didn’t even realize this until my sister pointed it out, but I’m having kind of an identity crisis. My baby is three now. She started preschool this year. Since we are done having kids, this means I’m officially out of the young motherhood years. While this is really liberating in some respects – no carseats! no diapers! no squirting breastmilk on random strangers on accident! – it’s also really sad. I’ve spent a decade and a half trying to have babies, birthing babies, burying babies and raising babies. But now? I always thought that when my kids were a bit older it would give me more freedom to get back to my career. Except I don’t really have one right now. (See above.) Which brings me to the other half of my identity – I’ve always been the fitness girl or The Great Fitness Experiment or whatever and, as you’ve all seen over the past few months, that’s all coming apart. So who am I now? I guess I’m just Charlotte but I’ve never, ever in my life been comfortable with that girl.

So I took all that garbage, plus some other stuff, wrapped it up in a ball of crazy and threw it at Steve. I tried to get meaning out of it that was probably never there. All that stuff I wrote Monday wasn’t about Steve. It was about me and my issues and what I’m struggling with right now. And that was a mistake. I’m so so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it but when people get hurt, intent doesn’t really matter anymore. I’m blessed in that Steve’s wife Ashley and his friends have handled all of it with their characteristic grace and kindness. I don’t deserve it but I’m grateful for it. And I hope that they all (and you all) will accept my sincerest apologies. It’s been a year of big changes for me and while it’s not an excuse, I hope you’ll accept it as an explanation. I also know that everyone goes through times of change and I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for handling mine with less aplomb than others.

But this thing that makes life so hard – the fact that it’s always changing – is the thing that will ultimately be my salvation. I know that I will not always be where I am now. No matter how hard it all feels right now, it will change. It will get better. It will get easier. I will not be a mess forever! (I’m saying this to reassure myself as much as anyone else.) I really don’t want to sound ungrateful for my life. I know I am so so blessed. But that is one of the worst parts of depression – knowing how good you have it and how ridiculous you sound being sad about it and yet still feeling all the feelings.  I am grateful for what I have. I am also sad for what I’ve lost. Both feelings can live in me at the same time.

In the meantime, I don’t want you guys to worry about me. That’s not why I’m posting this. I’m not in a crazy doom spiral. I want you to know I’m well supported in real life by friends and family and I’m still on my meds and all that good stuff. Since I feel like this is largely situational – and the only cure for that is time – I’m going to just try to focus on the basics of self-care for now:

- Getting 8 hours of sleep every night

- Eating whole, healthy foods and trying my best to keep sugar out of my diet (as much as I love it, it really does mess with my head)

- Praying and meditating

- Walking outdoors every day to get as much natural light as I can, knowing that winter dark is hard for me.

- Keeping my schedule simple

- Writing in my gratitude journal. Every day. No matter what.

I’ll figure it out. Or maybe I won’t. But either way the world keeps turning. I may be swimming with my boots on but at least I’m still swimming.

If you have any other self-care basics to add to my list, I’d love to hear what has worked for you during times of big change! And if you are of the praying or sending-good-vibes sort, I’ll take any positive energy you want to send my way. Again, please accept my apologies. Thanks for your understanding while I work through all this stuff.

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