it’s been a long while since I sat down and actually wrote something, for me.
It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.
I just didn’t know how to say it.
Last year didn’t really start how a year should. All the plans that had been put in place, the excitement of starting a new year fresh – full of travel, aspirations and things to tick off the list, were washed away within weeks of welcoming in the New Year.
What should have been excitement, warmth, and constant date watching, for the arrival of my new niece, and opportunities, anticipation and nerves for a career change ahead, were no sooner shattered and replaced, with emptiness and grief when the unexpected loss of my little grandad happened. The death of my first grandparent.
In such a short space of time, I felt so many emotions, but mostly I felt lost.
In myself, and everything I did.
I felt like everything I’d done leading up to this moment in my life, in this now without him, were done wrong. I questioned and doubted every single aspect of life. Everything I ever knew, and loved, didn’t quite feel the same anymore.
I felt like I didn’t cry enough, and then I cried too much. I felt like I couldn’t live quite the same anymore. I couldn’t laugh, or do things that felt too fun. And no sooner, was also faced with remorse and guilt towards my niece, because I hadn’t welcomed her into the world the way she should have been, only a day after his death. I should have been there for her, but I just couldn’t deal with these two contrasting emotions and this grief that I’d never experienced before.
And so I put my all into work, I focused on the new.
And I fell in love, with a career.
I began to feel happy in my work life. I put my all into everything, because I wanted to succeed and do well. And most importantly, I was being praised for what I was doing – I was respected.
I realised, that for the first time ever, I was officially career driven.
My relationship was strong, stronger than ever. The support, and the love was there and whilst the doubts came from the grief, I never for once thought it would fail. And with that, it only grew stronger.
To what it is today, real genuine love.
Quality time was a whole new thing. In one sense we became selfish, wanting to spend time with just each other, but equally wanted to be surrounded by the ones we love. Helping family out, when times were dark and hard. Spending numerous times walking up and down hospital corridors, waiting for things to get better. Endless hours driving around the country ensuring that everyone was seen, everyone was content, and everyone was healthy. Because they mattered.
No sooner had the summer arrived, and it felt like those darker times, were years back rather than months. It became one of the best summers we had. Work was blossoming, with events every other night, socialising and exploring. Living on 5 hours sleep because commuting life was just the norm. The best trip of a lifetime to Miami that will never be forgotten. Constant plans in the diary, from week night dinner dates with friends, to weekend staycations with family. The complete adrenaline and buzz.
Summer just felt so.
Until I went back to my hometown. Every time.
And we’d drive past the house that was no more.
Guilt washed over me, like I shouldn’t have done the things I was doing. I should have grieved more openly. I should have talked about my feelings more.
It never left me.
And, it brought out a secret. A secret that I’d been hiding inside of myself for a very long time. One that I ignored, and put to the back of my mind. But this grief, just overcame me. It stood out, and it made it a bigger problem.
A problem I couldn’t hide from anymore.
I hated every aspect of my appearance. Not a day would go by in the Autumn, where I didn’t cry or feel anxious in the morning.
I couldn’t stop comparing my face to others.
I couldn’t stop feeling sick everytime I caught sight of myself in the mirror.
I could stop picking at my scalp, and pulling at my hair, wishing it to be different.
I couldn’t stop thinking my body was disgusting.
I couldn’t stop the voices in my head, telling me I was ugly. That I looked like a boy. I wasn’t pretty.
And I couldn’t stop, wondering why I even worried so much about the way I looked.
And it took me until this time, to admit to a few of my closest people, that this was more than just a social media comparison. A vain feeling. This was real life. This is mental health.
This called for help.
Life tests us, in more ways than we can ever imagine and describe. But we can only learn from it. And grief taught me a lot. It tested me, but it really opened up my eyes to the things I needed to address. A year on, and I’m finally coming to terms with things that once weren’t so relevant but really reflect on me as a person. I realise how important family and friends are, more than ever before. And I believe hugely in gratitude.
I am thankful, for this life. The path that we pave ourselves.
The opportunities we are given.
And the fact that love, it doesn’t cost us anything.
That’s the most wonderful thing.