Four years. Is that a long time? Or not? My instinct is to say it’s not. As I approach my 40th birthday, four years is a blip. But today, Facebook reminded me that it was four years ago that my life changed completely, and it feels like eons ago.
Four years ago last month, my dad died. Yep, it was hard. It pushed me into a dark place, a place I was on the verge of anyway. Suddenly I was no longer emotionally able to maintain my current life; I realized I wanted more. More than working 50 hours a week as a retail store manager. More than saying goodbye to my kids one morning and not seeing them again until the next night. More than asking my MIL to take care of my kids and take them to activities and pick them up when I couldn’t. More than seeing my mom twice a year when one of us could visit the other.
Thankfully, I’m married to the best man in the world. He agreed we could scale back the budget to allow me to quit my job and stay home with the kids while I figured out my next step. I didn’t know what it would be; I still don’t know if I’m “there” yet or what. But wow, what a difference those four years made in my life.
I see my kids every morning and I greet them when they get home from school. I’m able to drive my daughter to flute lesson and band camp and auditions and study sessions and all these other things that would have been impossible before. I’m able to get a few minutes of conversation with my almost-teenage son before he disappears into his room to play video games. We eat dinner together as a family every single night. Instead of a pet-free house, we have two dogs who bring me great comfort and joy.
And during the day, I create. In those four years, I finished and revised a book. A whole book, that I’m now sending to agents in hopes of getting it published. I’ve proofread books for clients, several books, and I love that process. I learned to crochet, and then knit, and I sell my little beauties to people who love them. Through the yarn, I’ve found a wonderful friendship with my Knitting SIL. Through this blog, I’ve found a wonderful community of writers and knitters and all-around fabulous people. As one of my readers commented, I have a very rich, creative life, and somedays I’m overwhelmed with how lucky I am.
Now I can’t imagine being where I was four years ago. Remembering the job itself makes me cringe. I do miss the people, my lovely Creeker family, but thankfully I still have many of them in my life.
I still miss my dad. Of COURSE I do. I desperately wish he were still here. But this seems to be the way it goes: you have to go through something terrible to get that push to do what you’re really meant to do. Life is short and all that jazz. I can tell you the words, but until something makes it true for you, it won’t work the same. At least that’s my theory. Losing my dad set in motion a chain of events, including getting my mom and siblings in the same town for the first time in decades, and having them all around me has been one of the best blessings ever. It brought us together; it helped me get through the hard times.
I’m happy now. My life is peaceful and joyful and colorful. Those four years were rough and bumpy and jagged and sharp, and now I feel like I’ve reached a smooth part, where the lows aren’t so low and I can get past them more quickly. Thank goodness for my husband, my kids, my mom and siblings, my puppies, the friends who were truly there for me when I was struggling. Thank goodness for kind, gentle doctors. Thank goodness for antidepressants and thyroid meds and melatonin. After three years of taking them, I’m almost completely off the happy pills and doing well, but I know they’re there if I ever need them again.
I am one of the lucky ones. I know many people, too many good people, who have struggled, will continue to struggle, with depression forever. So many times, depression is ongoing and constant, not the (relatively) short experience I had. So many times, the meds don’t work, or you can’t afford the meds, or you’re ashamed to ask for the meds. So many times, you don’t take the time to see a therapist because you think you can do it alone.
But sometimes you can’t, and THAT’S OKAY. Trying meds, even lots of different meds, is OKAY. Seeing a therapist is OKAY, probably one of the best things I did, and I highly recommend it to everyone, not just people suffering from depression. Don’t just say you’re “fine” if you’re not. Find one person you trust, and tell the truth. Let them help you.
Here’s what I’ve learned over four years:
- Smoking DOES cause cancer, and cancer CAN kill you, and it SUCKS for everyone involved.
- There can be beauty and great meaning in death.
- Time does help heal. Wounds don’t go away, but you can find joy again.
- A family of four can live on one salary. It’s hard sometimes, and I worry about money a lot, but this is still the best choice for me, for us.
- Most people are truly kind.
- It’s worth it to keep fighting. Life may be short, but it’s beautiful. Find the beauty.