Sometime during the beginning of the year, I lost it.
School was busy in the months leading up to graduation, and a new, fitness-related second job I’d started (which I’d given up some other goals to pursue) wasn’t working out as I’d hoped, and I knew I’d have to leave. It was cold, and dark — always so dark — and I stopped being able to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. I’d get about four fitful hours each night and drag myself out of the house at 4 a.m. to honor my commitments for the day, loaded down with bags full of work stuff, and other work stuff, and changes of clothes and all the shit I need to shower and get myself ready for the day. And my food — often breakfast, lunch and dinner — if I’d bothered to plan ahead and actually prepare something. LOL. I’d drive, a lot. 50 minutes here, 25 minutes, 10 minutes, another 35 minutes home.
I stopped writing or creating. I started eating mindlessly and too much in the evenings (I’m a big fan of scooping giant spoonfuls of almond/cashew/peanut/whatever-nut butters directly into my mouth, especially when I’m feeling empty or sad.) I continued to push myself hard with exercise, but not in the loving way. In the “or-else” kind of way. In the “remember-all-the-nut-butter-you-ate” kind of way.
One morning as I headed out into the darkness, I said out loud: “I feel like I’m dying. Like, actively dying. Like I’m working on dying right now. I feel like I’m rotting.”
I was beyond tired. I was exhausted.
And I know you’re probably thinking “So what? Everyone’s tired!” (And also, I don’t even have kids, so feel free to throw your rotten tomatoes now if you’d like.) And my life was EXACTLY HOW I HAD SET IT UP TO BE. I was doing everything I had worked for and I had gotten everything I thought I had wanted. And yet.
I’ve worked with tired before and had managed to tough through it, but this started to feel heavier than just tired. I’d lost my spark. No stranger to depression, I sort of knew what was going on, but this one scared me. It lingered, circled, then settled into my chest and my belly and took up residence there. It wouldn’t leave. (Still hasn’t.) I felt as though I was losing grip on any sense of purpose I’d once had. I started to see a certain deadness in my face, especially in my eyes.
It’s hard to describe, but it felt as though all of the ideas I had about my future and what I thought I wanted started to crumble. I stopped being able to fake it enough to make the whole system run smoothly. While I felt sad and ashamed, I didn’t have the will or the power to stop it. It was me learning that what I thought I wanted may not have been what I wanted at all. In what felt like a very brief period of time, my life had gone from nervous excitement and big plans and dreams for the future to simply trying to get through each day without having some sort of physical or emotional meltdown — and only succeeding about 50 percent of the time. And also feeling lost — so far off of my path, so ridiculously far from being about to help others reach their own fitness and wellness goals. (Even as I type this now, there is so much shame in typing that sentence — shame in admitting that is something I could actually conjure up in my head, given the state of my own life right now.) Fractured sleep. Tension and full-body muscle aches. Fickle and unpredictable digestive patterns. Deep, dark circles. Feelings of isolation and disconnection in my relationships, much of which I’ve brought upon myself. Fear and uncertainty about what’s next for me. Sometimes, hopelessness.
I’m not exactly #goals at the moment, you know?
(*Bathroom break, brewing another pot of coffee, cracking open a La Croix*)
I don’t have a neat way to wrap this up, because I’m in it right now. Some of my very favorite writers say that you shouldn’t write from the open wound, because it’s too dark, and because people don’t want to hear the during. They just want the after — once you’ve figured your shit out and have safely come out the other side. I get that. But I also wanted to push myself to write again, and frankly, if this feels too dark or depressing then I totally get it and you don’t need to be reading my words. I’ll never forget the anonymous email I received when I wrote about how I was becoming a personal trainer. Anonymous said that I was fooling myself to think that I could ever help anyone else, and that I was totally fucked up and “crazy” and I needed to get professional help immediately. (If you’re still reading, I do go to therapy and thank you so much for looking out for my mental health.) Words are powerful, and criticism hurts the most when deep-down you already fear that the words might contain some truth.
I actually did become a personal trainer — still am — and I actually did help some wonderful people with whom I was fortunate enough to cross paths. And even now, when I feel ‘sparkless’ and often times broken and so very far from whatever my path is supposed to be, I still have this idea that I can somehow be a helper. That part hasn’t left. I’m just not sure what it looks like yet. In the absence of a clear vision of a long-term goal, I can only take the amazing Glennon Doyle’s advice to simply keep doing the next right thing, and trusting that if I do so, the big stuff will take care of itself.
So I’m still here working on this thing. But if anyone knows where my spark went — or knows how to get your spark back — I’m listening.