It’s no surprise to anyone to hear me say that 2017 has, in so very many ways, sucked. The election, the anxiety and trauma responses so many of us experienced after the election and the inauguration, the ongoing and unceasing political shitstorm that meant that every day had as many crises and news stories as full months had in previous years, the series of climate-change fueled natural disasters, the drumbeat of oncoming environmental catastrophe — it’s been brutal.
At the end of 2016, we felt well and truly shattered. I was realizing, for the first time, that what I had known were some fucked up childhood dynamics were embedded in my body as trauma. Exactly one year ago today, Carrie Fisher died, which, especially combined with the election, began a slow downward slide for Catharine. We knew that we needed 2017 to be about healing, so we cleared the decks and got down to business. We both got therapists. I put off looking for a new job because a transition that fundamental to our daily lives would take up energy we just couldn’t spare.
Things got worse before they got better. My therapist and I embarked on EMDR, and while EMDR is fucking magical in a lot of ways, it also unlocked a lot of stored up grief. That was fun. It also highlighted a lot of dynamics between us we needed to shift, and we’re still working on those. My naturopath and I tried a bunch of different things before we hit on one that actually seems to be making a material difference to the CFS (low-dose naltrexone, for those of you who might be looking for ideas).
Catharine’s depression and anxiety got worse and worse in this slow, oh so slow way that kept looking like maybe it was just situational until she was suddenly, drastically unsafe, and for the first time in 25 years she needed a few days in the psych hospital. As these things go, it was a reasonably good experience once she got admitted, and they got her meds changed, and things improved. Another meds adjustment later in the year went badly when her psych was out of the country, but things are now stable and we’ve got some good rules of thumb about how, when, and how quickly to adjust meds (and how to prioritize household stability in the process). She’s more stable and less anxious than she’s ever been in her adult life.
Because we made space for healing, because we were lucky enough to find/have good providers who could help us, because we were able to find things that worked, we’re at a really different place here at the end of 2017 than we were at the end of 2016. We’re able to start thinking about who we want to be and what we want to do from these spaces of more stability and more energy. Neither of us is cured. We aren’t well, in the sense that either of us can act as if we don’t have the issues or conditions we have. But we can make plans we have a better shot of being able to carry out.
For me those plans are still nascent. I’m still figuring out what they might look like, although they probably look like small daily routines that may or may not add up to something bigger over time. I’m not quite ready to say hello to 2018. But I am ready to say goodbye to 2017, and not entirely in the good riddance sense. As awful as this year has been in so many ways, as brutal as the day to day has felt, I’m deeply grateful for the healing we’ve found and created.
So thank you, 2017, for showing me what needed to be healed and being the space in which that healing could occur. Thank you for Catharine’s healing. Thank you for the ways our mutual healing has allowed our relationship to settle into something deeper and more resilient, more mutually supportive. Thank you for all of the incredibly smart people I’ve met online, with whom I have connected, learned, mourned, raged, and laughed. Thank you for in-person friendships with like-minded people, for that glorious solar eclipse, for music that has made me want to dance, for books and tv that have soothed my soul, and for Saturn moving into Capricorn. Thank you for being a year that I will forever remember as a turning point.