I felt like a giant wave of darkness smacked into me, knocking my breath out, and leaving me lethargic and confused. I had no idea what happened, or why. For five days, I felt like a shell, with nothing inside. Heavy, tired, and dead; a zombie experiencing anxiety attacks.
I went to the doctor. And we’re testing for everything, from platelet count to Lyme disease, vitamin deficiencies, cortisol levels. Cortisol. A hormone that is produced when the body goes through stress.
Stress? What stress?
I didn’t feel like anything at work was out of the ordinary. My personal life seemed fine. Anything I could label as stress, seemed like normal, healthy stress.
Was I having a breakdown because I was going to turn 30? I had that breakdown at my 26th birthday—and then again on my 29th birthday. I get it. I’m not going to be married or have any kids before I’m 30. I knew that four years ago, and I definitely knew it last year.
But something still wasn’t right, still isn’t right. I didn’t want to write, couldn’t write. I didn’t go to yoga for a week. I couldn’t go to work for two days. I refused to talk to any of my friends or co-workers.
For those five days I kept thinking of the lyrics, Riding high in April, shot down in May—over and over again. Dressed like a hobo (I can’t get dressed when I’m feeling depressed or highly stressed out, my outfits are a cry for help) I slumped myself into the car to go back to work, hoping I could make it through the day without crying. Riding high in April, shot down in May…
I turned the car on, Sirius XM was set to 60’s on 6. Phlash Phelps finished talking. And That’s Life started playing. And I cried hard listening to Ol’ Blue Eyes sing, and I realized, sometimes you’re up and down and over and out. And maybe I was just all of those things right now, without a specific reason.
Maybe I needed to cry. Maybe I was stressed, maybe all the tiny stresses added up. Maybe I was surprised how my life wasn’t what I imagined it would be. But whose imagination was that? A five-year-old girl with a head full of fairy tales and no clue how tough life is, how it only gets harder as you get older, that people can be terrible and surprise you in the worst possible way, and how horrible things happen to everyone without any exception, that nothing is ever or will ever be perfect.
And that the imperfections in life, yours and everyone’s raw, dirty flaws; the tough times; the unexpected; disasters; loss; are what shape your life and your path.
I went to yoga yesterday, and my instructor closed the practice with this quote:
At the end of the day, faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. It’s like one day you realize that the fairy tale might be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important that it’s happy ever after, just that it’s happy right now. See, once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you. And once in a while, people may even take your breath away.
I tried to fight it, but I gave in and let two tears seep out of my closed eyes, and held the rest in. So guess what happened? I really cried later. Mercury is in retrograde. It wasn’t just a full moon, it was a blue moon. I’m PMS-ing. And we were celebrating my 30th birthday.
I thought about all the things I didn’t have, and then I thought about the things I did have, and all that I’ve given to myself. And then I realized that what I don’t give myself, is the space to be stressed, or sad, or cry. So I let myself cry. I cried in the middle of a crowd. I cried in the rain. I cried in my best friend’s car. I cried in my bed.
I cried because I was ecstatically happy and I cried because at the same time, part of me was hopelessly sad. But I knew it was ok because that’s life. It’s happy, and sad, and beautiful, and ugly, and hopeless, and romantic.