I have always been known as a person that does things differently than most. Since I was very young, I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. I am a very type A personality and an overachiever. But lately I have been barely able to function. Oh, I can go through the motions just fine. I can look very functional to the point that it seems like I am just fine. But honestly for the last few weeks I haven’t been fine at all.
I have felt alone, angry, confused, numb, and so very lost. At first, I blamed it on being sick and the chaos of having the kids home 24./7. I had lost my alone time while they were at school. My time to think and process. My time to just be. I was seriously sick and taking care of four kids alone. I told myself that it would all be better once I got better and got the kids into a routine. Well I did get better and the kids are in something that resembles a routine, but I was not feeling any better emotionally. In fact, with each passing day I have felt worse and worse.
I started thinking I was becoming depressed. Isn’t that what we always think when someone starts struggling that it must be depression. I started taking my Zoloft again hoping that since it was a lower milligram that I would not have the same horrible side effects as last time. Thankfully so far there have been no side effects, but this is also only my third day. I was talking to a friend about the way I have been feeling and they suggested I read a book called The Excommunicated Warrior. They thought that it might help me. At first, I wasn’t sure about it. What could a Special Forces Marine and I have in common. But I decided to go ahead and try reading it. It was through reading this book that I had my aha moment.
This Marine and I had a lot in common. He talks about how he got out of the Marines after 12 years and how once his career was done how he felt so lost, alone, angry, confused, and numb. He talked about how his life went from 300mph go, go, go to 10mph. How it was like he was a train for 12 years and as the years went on, he picked up boxcars (baggage) from trauma from his life as a Marine. He explained how he was doing fine with all these cars when he was going 300mph but when his life suddenly slowed down and he went to 10mph his train had a catastrophic derailment. All his cars came crashing into each other and into him hard.
For 14 years my life has been go, go, go 200mph. I have dealt with my oldest daughter’s severe CD and all that has entailed. Fighting a very broken mental health and justice system. Living in an emotionally abusive marriage and trying to make it work by becoming this “perfect” Navy wife. Dealing with Navy life. Jumping through every hoop he ever put before me all in a bid to earn his love and loyalty. Dealing with infidelity, his narcissism, and shoving down all the pain so that the kids could be happy. Hiding how bad things were with my marriage and my daughter from friends or family out of fear of how I would be judged, because I thought everyone would see me as a failure. Dealing with my dad dying. My mom walking out on me. Becoming an EMT, having to give up my career as an EMT because I got hurt. Raising four kids that had been through hell because of their older sister. Going to school full time to get my bachelor’s degree. Just constantly go, go, go for the last 14 years of my life.
Then last month it all just stopped. My life went from 200mph to 10mph in no time flat. My marriage was officially over. He had been out of the house for a month and the kids and I had adjusted to our new normal. My oldest daughter was just doing the same old same old, but there were no new crisis to deal with. The kids were out of school, so there was no real rush to life or anything important to get up in the mornings for. Life had gone from super crazy to just nothing. I still had school but even that was not the super important priority it used to be because all my classes had moved to online. Life had finally calmed down for the first time in 14 years. I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. I should have been ecstatic. But I wasn’t.
Every day I felt like the walls of my life were caving in on me. I felt like I was suffocating . I felt so very lost. I could not understand why this was happening to me. Why wasn’t I happy? I had finally got the break that I needed so badly. Things had finally calmed down. Yet I was not okay. My PTSD had taken on a new look. I was still having night terrors, but the panic attacks had pretty much stopped. Yet I always felt like there was a scream stuck in my chest and throat. A scream that needed to come out but couldn’t. My chest stayed in a constant state of tightness. I thought maybe it was because the pressures of being a single mom is a lot, especially when the kids are around 24/7. Or maybe it was because I had been sick with a flu type sickness that I could not shake. When I finally got diagnosed with pneumonia, I was actually relieved. That must be why I have been feeling like this. The chest tightness, the agitation, the feeling like I needed to scream must be because I am not getting enough oxygen and it was my body’s way of reacting. That is what I kept telling myself. I kept trying to make up reasons why I felt all that I was feeling.
But as I have got better, I knew none of those were the reasons because I still felt all of these things. Then I read the book and it all made sense to me. I too am a train that has been going 200mph. Over the last 14 I have picked up car after car of baggage that I have never dealt with. I was doing fine pulling all my cars as long as I kept up my 200mph life. But now that my life has come to a screeching halt so has my train. And now all those cars of baggage, 14 years of cars are slamming into each other and slamming into me. I am now dealing with a catastrophic train wreck. 14 years of battling for my marriage, for my daughter, for so much is over. And now I don’t know what to do. I am lost. Now I am facing this huge train wreck of baggage and I have no idea where to even start the clean-up. I am not even sure of who I am any more. For 14 years I was my ex-husband’s wife. I was the advocate and warrior for my daughter. I was the go, go, go person that overachieved at everything. And now that there is no battle to fight and no marriage to save, I don’t know who I even really am. I am still a mom but honestly compared to the last 14 years that has been a breeze. I don’t know what to do with myself if I am not fighting to make things okay. I have lost my purpose in things being okay.
I don’t know what this aha moment will mean for me. Where it will take my life. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I am sure hoping this Marine and his book will help me figure out how to come out of this. Maybe through his story I will be able to make sense of my own. I know that a chapter of life is closing. I have known it for months now. Maybe with the help of this book I will be able to figure out how to start writing a new chapter and find myself again. Or at the very least figure out what to do with this train wreck that is now my life. All I know right now is I am thankful that there is at least one other person in this world that understands exactly what I am feeling right now. Understands how lost I feel. And has wrote a book that makes me feel a little less lost and a little less alone. I guess only time will tell what happens next.