Thursday, May 16, 2019

Checking in.

Looking toward a brighter future!
One year ago today I was in the the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack. It was the second time in less than a year I found myself in that same emergency room with the same fear that I was surely dying. The first time Mich was by my side, but this time I was totally alone. It turned out my ticker was fine, but my stress levels were through the roof, and they weren't going to come down any time soon. One year later I'm in a much better place, but my life is still far from perfect. Though I do keep a gratitude journal to remind me that good things do happen to me every day.

But I'm still filled with the deepest sadness that I lost her. In the month leading up to her deciding divorce was inevitable I honestly thought I'd be able to turn it around. To my (minor) credit at least I didn't harangue her to change her mind for months on end. I made a few attempts to dissuade her from ending the marriage, but for the most part I accepted her decision.

Maybe somewhere deep inside I was still in denial.* Maybe? I'm sure I was.

A little over a year ago was probably the toughest period of time in my life for a number of reasons I no longer feel the need to rehash. But I do remember it was right about now that the more public-facing evidence of the destruction of my life had started to ebb and I began to focus more on making things right with myself for the sake of my future. (The timing couldn't have been better since I was about to lose my job to a company merger the day after my heart attack scare. What timing!)

I've thinking about the future, and am struck that I am at the almost exact same place I was 20 years ago. 20 years from now I should be ostensibly retiring (though I don't see how that can possibly happen at this point). I thought I led a charmed life, and the fact of the matter is that I really did. And then I squandered it, blew things up, and threw myself all the way back to square one.

Therapy helped me identify a few milestones that led me to where I am now, and of course now that I see them clearly I wish I'd noted those warning signs and adjusted my decisions accordingly. The period between buying our house and the sudden closing of Chicagoist was probably the steepest downward slope that found me skiing out of control and straight into losing the best thing that had happened to me up until that point in my life. Other people probably saw the signs more clearly than me. I remember having a "wake" for Chicagoist at our house and I'm pretty sure most people in attendance could tell something was wrong with my relationship before I did. I was too wrapped up in my own selfishness to truly be able to self-evaluate, that's for sure.

So where am I now? I live across the street from the house we once owned, in an apartment that's too big for a single person—no single dude really needs 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but I just wanted to move and make it as simple as possible. But it is the right size for me to at least fit all my stuff into instead of renting a storage unit. I've settled down after months of heavy dating—and by that I mean many "getting to know you" dates; this isn't some sort of hook-up humblebrag. I have a nice freelance gig at an agency I really like, but of course would prefer the security of a permanent job. I've made a lot of changes regarding what I eat and drink, along with physical activity, and am enjoying feeling more clearheaded and energetic than I have in far too long. I'm grateful for the friends who stuck around, since I lost most of them during the course of the divorce. I don't blame them, but it still hurt.

There are still a few special people that bring flashes of color to my life when they're around—there's one person in particular that entered my life over the winter that makes me especially happy, and I hope I'm doing the same for her—but for the most part I still feel as if my world has largely turned grey when I'm alone. I suspect it will be for a while longer, and even though it seems like it will never return to the Technicolor glory I enjoyed not all that long ago, I'll keep holding on hoping for that more permanent saturation of color to manifest.

There's really no other choice.

*If we're going by the traditional 5 stages of grief I think it's worth noting I went through all of them except "anger." I'm definitely now in acceptance, but that doesn't mean I'm not still depressed by what happened. I don't think the sad part will ever totally go away.

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