Looking back over 365 days of memories and trying to properly pay tribute to all of them is impossible. Thankfully our brains have a neat little organization system in place.
Using dates as benchmarks it allows us to pick out the highlights reel of the wonderful and the challenging moments so we can reflect and then refile them in our big filing cabinet of life.
Like most, I had my share of visits to each end of the virtual spectrum of emotions. I had moments of jubilation and moments of despair. I experienced joy and I experienced heartache. I laughed and I cried. I was hopeful and I was hopeless.
My word for the year
The contrast between two opposing forces shows, for the most part, a sense of balance and ironically that was the word I had chosen for myself in 2012 – BALANCE.
When I selected that word last year I was hoping to achieve a sense of calm, of inner peace, of contentment.
I hoped that my year would provide me with an equilibrium that I felt was missing from my waking hours. I was feeling over-extended, exhausted, inadequate and lacking.
I aspired to have a year finding solutions and methods of returning some normalcy to my every day life. I felt like I had been experiencing so much negative that there had to be a positive side to things.
I needed to take active steps in seeking more good, more happiness, more moments of joy.
2011 was tough – really tough
So much of 2011 had been spent trying to navigate life with two young children and the isolation that comes with being on maternity leave.
It was spent dealing with some post traumatic stress from a very quick and painful unmedicated childbirth the second time around (a complete 180 from my first birthing experience) which was something that I didn’t divulge or talk about at length with anyone.
The reality is that though the end result was a happy, healthy baby, the actual experience later caused panic attack inducing flashbacks.
I had to deal with the constant worry about unresolved medical testing that weighed heavily on my mind regarding an enlarged thyroid gland.
I had to come to terms with the fact that a family member was going to lose her life and then try to come to accept her absence from my life.
I spent the entire year also knowing something was definitely askew with my brain chemistry and all the rippling effects that initiated in every facet of my life.
2011 was a year I did not want to repeat.
I realized I needed to put myself first
2012 did bring more of a juxtaposition of experiences. I felt tides turn.
A huge part of this was regaining some “me” time now that I was back at work.
I was no longer “mommy” 24/7 in the sense that I was responsible around the clock for my children. I had time to breathe again.
For the first time in 12 months I had time to put myself first for a change.
This was paramount in the process of seeking more good in my life. I needed time to seek it out but the key was I needed to give myself permission to do so.
We all need some time to relax and recharge
Once I received my medical results and was given an “all clear” and was not needing to prepare to battle the big scary “C word”, I was able to breathe a bit easier. I was no longer needing to put my life on hold.
I hadn’t booked weddings or commitments for the summer months because I did not know what was coming down the road for me medically.
In the end, setting aside the summer months to just “be” with my family was one of the greatest gifts I could have given myself.
For the first time in 6 years I had weekends to spend any way I wanted. I was able to attend events and spent time relaxing at the family cottage.
It was sheer bliss.
I was also gifted a weekend of alone time when my husband took our two boys on a weekend getaway trip to Ottawa to visit family there.
I had nearly a week of one-on-one time with my mother (something I’ve never had as an adult) when we rented a cottage on Prince Edward Island and spent the time just relaxing, sightseeing and enjoying the beautiful landscape.
We began having planned date nights.
But none of this could shake the cloud still hanging over my head
For 18 months I dealt with demons that I couldn’t name.
I knew something was wrong but I could not identify it.
I had others ask me if I was battling post partum depression and I knew the answer was no – I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms.
But I clearly wasn’t myself.
Then one day I had a lightbulb moment – I was fighting depression’s equally debilitating sidekick, anxiety.
The sunshine poured in to my life again
Once I put the pieces together and could acknowledge and honour my feelings I was able to adequately convey them to my doctor.
It had been going on for long enough that I knew this was not going to resolve itself magically overnight.
Armed with medical intervention I began waging my battle and I am very happy to say I’ve made huge strides.
With the curtains drawn open and I was now seeing things illuminated that had too long been sitting in the shadows, cowering.
I got reacquainted with self-worth and self-love and was able to work on repairing rips and tears in the fabrics of my closest relationships.
I was given the opportunity to think positively about the future and all the amazing things I was now confident that it holds for me.
I opened myself up to new experiences and new people.
Looking ahead to 2013
Instead of constantly living in fear of the future and what further downward spiral it might take I was now looking ahead and optimistically so.
This new perspective allowed me to experience those moments of joy, happiness and wonder that were so lacking in the previous year.
I learned a lot about myself in the process as well and had some pretty profound moments of self-realization.
While 2012 did not begin as I had hoped, it did end as I had wanted. I kept moving forward.
I achieved BALANCE.