Drunk off nature. That is how I want to be. I want to bask in the amber sunsets of July with my toes in the sand. My flesh, still warm to the touch, from a day in the sun. As waves crash far enough in the distance to hear their strength, I want to lay. A gentle mist will dampen my lips with salty water. That is the drunk off nature that I so deeply crave.
I went back to my journals to find the exact day when things changed. I started back in March, skimming through the pages.
March 27, 2020
I deactivated my social media. It has become toxic to me and my mindset. I am sure this will help shake this weird feeling.
April 20, 2020
Cold office chairs sitting empty for weeks. Blackened monitors collecting dust. Every day I think about the people that used to fill those chairs; I miss them. Each cubicle like a grave of what once was, knick-knacks left behind from when we were all naive enough to think that we’d ever see life as we knew it again. Today everything feels depressing and permanent. Isolation scares me.
This is the first sign I saw of me admitting that I was “scared”, like everyone else, I was scared.
August 12, 2020
I drove to work today, same time and route as usual. I noticed a white Jeep Cherokee in front of me. It seemed like the Jeep was veering to the right. I was sure they’d correct. It happened so fast. A cloud of dust surrounded me. A million little specks of dirt shower my car. I am frozen. The pole breaks in half and lands in front of me. Thick ropes of power scrape the pavement as they swing by my car. There is no sign of life however, instinctively, I put my car in park and run towards the accident. I yell to the driver, he responds. I reach my hand in and assure him I will stay until help arrives. This is when I notice he is wearing a hospital bracelet. I panic, I am not wearing my mask. I can tell he is trying to wiggle out, but there is glass everywhere. Trying to keep him alert and calm, I start asking him questions.
His name was “Dom”. He tells me he moved in with his girlfriend this weekend and they just bought the new Jeep. He is a “Nephrology nurse”. I didn’t know what that was, so he explained that he administers dialysis to patients daily. His truck is still upside down when he confesses that he has not had a day off in months due to the pandemic and his body finally gave up during the move, he was rushed to the ER with dangerously high blood pressure. “I blacked out,” he says. “I was given a note for work but, I was just going in to make sure I had coverage for a day or two.”
He got out safely, a miracle, and the emergency responders dragged him away.
Unlike Dominic, the only human life that was depending on me was MY OWN, and I wouldn’t even take care of myself. I watched my mental and physical health decline throughout the pandemic, I continued to push on despite everything inside me saying to STOP! There were times I was unrecognizable to myself. I would stand in front of the mirror, stare at my reflection in disgust because I saw a hollow shell that used to house a vibrant, joyful, brilliant woman. I want her back so badly.
Responsibilities, they loom over me whenever I get this crazy idea that I can just pack it up and run. I think about the career I poured my life into, how invested I was in the people, my work, and the business. For weeks I have wanted to take a day off and just enjoy summer with my family, but I would come up with a million reasons why it wasn’t possible. I had to keep on going, that is what my mind was telling me, despite my heart and body fighting harder than ever against that mentality.
HANG IN THERE.
You know the poster I am talking about. A white kitten, claws digging deep into a branch. Hanging there, eyes wide open, the kitten is scared. The image tells us that one of two things can happen, this tiny little ball of fur will free-fall, four legs flailing before it hits a fiery pit of lava, or it will swing its hind legs up, find its footing, and survive.
What if the kitten doesn’t “HANG IN THERE”, but rather it lets go of the low hanging limb, landing on all fours in tall, soft blades of grass. The kitten pounces off to live a beautiful life. What if we stopped thinking everything was a huge catastrophic leap of faith.
What if I decided that it was time for me to put the same amount of love, effort, and energy into my passion as I have into someone else’s for 16 years? I would never know unless I let go of that branch.
The rest of my journal entry post from that day I will save for me to savor. Besides, unless you were in my shoes, you’d never understand how soft the grass was when I landed that day.
That day I chose me.