I almost didn’t write an anniversary post this year but decided to crank one out at the last minute. I mostly didn’t feel like writing because it was a bit disappointing not doing much better since my last post.
Most of the past year was spent on a continued downward spiral. Four years ago I wrote about taking a chance, strapping on those wings, and leaping with only the hopes of learning to fly. So much has happened since that first leap. After a short time soaring, the wind just died away and I felt myself lose momentum. I spent a couple of years feeling like I was just taping the remnants of my wings back together then running back up the hill to leap again. I could never catch the same lifting current. I would waft and drift then eventually sink back down until I finally crashed for what seemed like the last time. I felt like there was no way I was getting back up that hill again. Instead, I sat sobbing among the wreckage with little left to piece together.
The past year seemed to start off with promise. I had a great time presenting about motherhood, sex, and depression at CatalystCon while also doing a live podcast with Swingset. Even though felt I had done well and I got to spend time with many awesome friends I left a bit conflicted. I spent the next several months writing and podcasting but over time it seemed to get harder and harder to do. I had two uplifting retreat weekends, one that was focused on self-care and the other with the Sex Geekdom emissaries, but I found myself questioning things and feeling unsure of my path soon after each event. The stress of my personal life had a lot to do with this.
It was really hard to not have my husband home most of the time and it seemed like I was constantly losing reliable childcare. This made going to events or even just being social in any way more difficult. My children needed more and more of my time and energy as their unique version of special needs issues required lots of work to improve. My son was having the most problems and really needed my support more than ever. I was trying to provide support for myself but even therapy seemed to be going nowhere over the course of the first half of the year. I returned from a long summer vacation to a steady stream of bad news and added responsibilities. I had to start stepping down from commitments at an ever-increasing speed.
It was really hard to step away from helping Bawdy Storytelling get started in Chicago. I had laid the groundwork but couldn’t keep up. I really wanted to keep Sex Geekdom Chicago going, along with being on the board of Sex Geekdom International, but found it hard to find time for a meetup and kept feeling like I was falling behind on board member duties. It became harder and harder to generate content for my writing gig and I worried about the quality of my work declining as my free time and ability to concentrate dwindled. It also became really hard to concentrate while podcasting as I was always exhausted and distracted by one or both of my kids screaming or arguing or engaging in some sort of drama while the rest of the swingset crew told engaging stories and tossed out quips and quotable one-liners while being flirty and funny. I couldn’t keep pace with the conversation half the time and often had to step away to referee or comfort a child. The joy seeped out of everything.
As fall approached, I bailed out of nearly everything to keep up with just the basics of living. I couldn’t podcast anymore, couldn’t continue to write and had to take a break from Sex Geekdom. The quest to find where my sex drive went so I could enjoy sex again was going nowhere and was getting worse. My body started to fail me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Fall has been filled with many doctor appointments, not only for myself but also for my kids and my dog. I couldn’t stop crying. I wondered if I should just give up on my work and go back to just being a harried stay at home mom, back to where I was a little over 4 years ago. I couldn’t go to Desire and had to pull out of a conference because I just couldn’t get the help I needed to take care of my kids while I was gone. Just when I had lost all hope I received a moment of clarity.
I turned to a dear friend for some advice and our conversations sparked a new found understanding of what was going on better than the months of therapy I had gone through. I started to look at things a different way, spent more time meditating and sought out online programs, books, articles and sites of people and ideas that could give me greater insight. Instead of jumping right back on the bandwagon I gave myself permission to step away from nearly everything to work on myself. I pared down my work at Swingset to just editing written content and managing the writers. Everything else was shelved until I could figure things out. At the same time, I spent a great deal of time helping my son slowly improve. I had to discover what I needed to fuel my creative spirit and feel like I was living again.
I also had to really look at my health issues. As we started to close out the year I wound up in physical therapy several days a week, on new medications, a revamped way of eating to improve my health, and working on coping mechanisms with the family therapist. Getting on an antidepressant turned out to be a big help. Unfortunately, the one health issue I wasn’t making headway with was getting my sex drive back. Not only was the pilot light out and the stove cold, someone had removed it from the kitchen. It seemed unfair that I had opened up to enjoy more variety in sexual experiences and enjoy new partners only to find just as I was starting to get the hang of it, the kitchen closed down. I’m sort of on an extended sabbatical from swinging until I can figure out how to get things working again.
At the start of 2016, I took stock of all aspects of my life that needed work along with the health and family issues I had to deal with. I had to make some tough decisions but also had to stop worrying about who I was disappointing with these decisions. So hard to do when I often wallow in guilt. I had to redefine myself as a writer and educator in between kid events and doctor visits. I realized recently I know more about myself now than ever before and the parts I’m still not seeing clearly are starting to come into focus. It’s been an arduous climb but I feel like I’m actually making progress. I’m coming up with a plan to redefine my work to pave the way to actually generating income. There is slow but steady improvement. My kids are doing better, they’re not drama free but kids never are. I don’t feel like the emotional wreck I was up until a short time ago. There’s actually a sense of hope and possibility, something I hadn’t had in a while. As the No Doubt song “The Climb” says, If I keep it up I’m gonna make it. I’m so very close, can’t you see.
Can’t turn back now, must keep climbing.