One of the things I’ve said to my friends a lot lately is: Time is weird.
Maybe it’s due to getting older. Or maybe it’s the way living with chronic illness can impact days and weeks and months and years, making them slide together while at the same time changing so much. Or maybe time truly is getting different in the whole cosmic sense of things.
But for quite a while now, it’s felt like time goes fast…and slow…all at once.
Here we are in December already. Not only is it almost the end of another year, we’re almost at the end of the TEENS. It can sort of boggle my mind when I think of how it’s almost 2020…and how long it’s been since the numbers of a year did a repeat like that with zeros – 1010…and how long it’ll be before it happens again – 3030. (Yes, my mind boggles for odd reasons sometimes!)
December is my birthday month. It’s a month in the midst of holiday time.
It’s a month that invites looking back over the months of the current year, and looking forward to the year to come.
When I look back, when I think of all the months of 2019 leading to now, I can’t really even describe how I feel. But there are words and phrases that come with the feeling: Wow. What a year. Have I really survived all that so far? Yay, me! But what a journey in hell.
(For more context about the “journey in hell” thing, this post about tapering off anti-anxiety medication says more about what I’ve been going through.)
In some ways, January 2019 seems like a long, long time ago.
In other ways, it seems like this year has gone by in a blink.
Time is weird.
And as I look ahead, I feel a mixture…
There’s some anxiety, because my brain right now is still firing on fear, looking for danger, wondering when another shoe is going to drop.
There’s hope, too, and the good kind of anticipation. I have my 2020 word-of-the-year, I’m letting myself set a few goals for the first time in quite a while, and I’ve got plans for immersing myself even more in painting and writing.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on fiction regularly – and that feels really good.
And a couple of days ago – on a day that included painting at the canvas, and working on fiction, and going to book club, and laughter and talking and pizza and sweets, and a late afternoon phone call with a dear friend – I realized that afternoon (and it hit me a few more times as the day and evening went on) that I felt more “normal” (as in normal-for-me in the way my life used to feel) than I’ve felt in over a decade.
It wasn’t only that I had fewer physical symptoms that day (it’s true that I had fewer symptoms, and I’m very very grateful for days with fewer symptoms!). And it wasn’t only that the anxiety wasn’t very high (I’m always grateful when that happens too!).
It was the way I felt in my own skin. Something that’s hard to describe, the way I moved through the day, the way the day felt inside of myself. I honestly can’t explain it.
But it felt like my life a long time ago, the way my life used to be, the way I used to be.
And it felt so good.
It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, that part of myself isn’t gone forever, erased by anxiety and physical problems and broken relationships and financial stress and benzos and anxiety.
It gave me hope for 2020.
I’ll be honest: I’m afraid to hope.
But there it is.
Time can be weird, a mixture of fast and slow. Feelings and emotions can be weird too, a mixture of so many things – anxiety, dread, joy, hope, and more.
But here’s the thing: We can hold it all.