The Last Year of My Life
Things have changed over the last year of my life more than I ever thought possible. I’m not saying my life is perfect now, it’s actually far from it. But after 2017, I never thought I would be able to accomplish or live the type of life I’m living now.
When we lost our baby, we were given a lot of literature that talked about the toll on a marriage that the loss of a child can take. At first, I thought that was ridiculous. Johnny was my biggest source of comfort before the baby, what could losing her do to that relationship?
Boy, was I wrong. Johnny and I process things extremely differently, which is normal. When he’s sad, he kind of shuts down. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion outwardly and he internalizes a lot of what is going on around him. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always. I am probably the world’s worst poker player. I often wish that wasn’t the case. When it came to losing Beth, I cried non stop. I screamed. I was angry. I was so upset at the universe but when I looked at my husband I saw no emotion. He was sad, that was obvious, but he didn’t seem THAT sad. I would yell at him to show something. I yelled at him for not talking to me about his feelings or being as upset as I was about not having our daughter. I told him how he could never understand how I felt because he “didn’t even care” about her.
I was wrong. He cared and he hurt, I just didn’t see it. So I chose not to believe him. Our marriage deteriorated quickly. By March of 2017, not even 3 full months after losing our baby, we started talking about divorce. It wasn’t divorce due to not having a daughter, and not even due to me not being able to give him more children. It was about petty, stupid things. But back then, they were huge things to us. We were so wrapped up in misery and depression that we couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel of our relationship. After our biggest fight, we made the decision to work things out. It wasn’t easy. We still fought a lot. We still fight, to be honest. (Not usually his fault, I’m a blunt combative person and he’s passive aggressive and avoids confrontation as much as possible. Not the easiest combination for a peaceful household.)
I never thought we could be as happy as we are now. We had a recent financial setback regarding our house, and Johnny said to me “at least we still have each other”. I know that’s a dumb thing to cry over, but I did. Knowing that I will still have him by my side no matter what means EVERYTHING to me. We’ve made it through the very worst. We survived something that we didn’t think we could. Now, nothing can stop us. We are doing SO well at talking through issues, being each other’s sounding board and greatest source of understanding and support. I am more thankful for my marriage than anything else. More thankful than my health or the fact that I’m alive. My marriage to Johnny Doyle has saved me over and over again during the last year of my life. He is my person. My lobster. We’re SoupSnakes. (Friends and Mindy Kaling references)
Prior to 12/17 I had a few “friends”, but not by the true definition of the word. Between my inability to maintain relationships while I was in the season of depression and PTSD and the fact that I chose to surround myself with people in similar mindsets, I was pretty lonely. I had some “work friends” and some “internet friends” but I didn’t have anyone who would come over at the end of a hard day, or someone who would not only listen to me, but truly empathize and help me find the positivity in every situation.
That all changed the day I met Katelynn Joyce McLain. She goes by Katy but I feel cool for knowing her full name so just go with it. Katy and I met on Facebook through a mutual friend. She was selling a makeup/skincare line and at the time I was a rep for an athletic wear company. I was hosting a vendor event at my mom’s house for Christmas shopping, and I invited her to come. She told me later that she started typing messages to bail on the event multiple times, but ended up coming even though she didn’t want to. I had a very specific preconceived opinion about Katy.
First of all, she was the prettiest person I’d ever seen. She was successful, she was smart, and she was someone I never thought I’d rub shoulders with. I didn’t have the best self image at the time, obviously. After hanging out with her that night and seeing how easily she worked her business, I decided to take a closer look. I spent hours researching and the next day I joined the company with her. I wasn’t sure that we’d be actual friends, but I wanted to learn from her. The next week she invited me to a local event that the company was throwing and I decided to go. I bought my ticket, and I even committed to staying at a hotel downtown with her and some other girls overnight before the event. Well, I might as well jump right on in while I’m busy being extremely outside of my comfort zone.
To some of you it might seem like a small matter to stay overnight at a hotel with a bunch of girls. For me, every GD alarm in my head was going off. “What if they hate you” “What if you look stupid” “What if you don’t make any friends” “What if you show up, and like that one time in 7th grade they tell you they took a vote and decided you’re not invited to the party anymore” (Yes, that really happened. The very first party I had ever been invited to. And yes, I didn’t forget it. People don’t forget how you made them feel, folks.) So against my “better judgement” I showed up and I stayed overnight with these 3 girls I didn’t know. Fast forward about 12 months later and Katy is my best friend. Like best friend in a way I didn’t even know was possible. Just like my marriage. This friendship transformed into something that I saw on TV when I was growing up but couldn’t understand. Like Monica and Rachel levels of friendship. (I’m the Monica. But she’s way smarter than Rachel. I always tell her we’re like Blair and Serena without the boy drama but she’s never watched Gossip Girl, so it doesn’t really translate.)
Along with our friendship has come many others. There are girls who have joined the company with me who I consider like family. There are girls who I’ve met over the last year that I know I will have contact with and be friends with for a very, very long time. Being able to become friends with someone like Katy showed me how much value I have to give. She showed me my worth. She supports, encourages, empathizes and most importantly, calls me on my bullshit. She is the most incredible friend I’ve ever had, and even though it took me 29 years to get there, I’m not even mad.
My self esteem.
If you’ve followed me at all over the last two years, this should come as no surprise. I post selfies now. Yea, it’s a big deal. If you haven’t let me give you a quick rundown. We know about the baby from above if this is your first time reading. What happened over the next 10 months post baby loss was: 30 lbs of weight gain. My skin went to hell in a hurry. I stopped getting “ready.” and stopped caring about my appearance. I stopped caring at all about myself as a mother, a wife or a human. If Johnny ever reads this next part, he will kill me. Not in like a “call the FBI” type of kill me, but he’s gonna be mad.
In the summer of 2017, Johnny called me out on my pathetic ways. His exact words were that I was “becoming slobby” which isn’t even a real word I don’t think. We had a lot of words but the end result was that I needed to change quickly if my husband was ever going to respect me as a human again. My immediate solution was to join a 6 week CrossFit challenge to try and shed some of that depression weight. As soon as I started eating better and working out for the challenge, it made it easier to look in the mirror. In September, I joined the active wear company and started taking pictures of myself wearing the clothing. To my extreme surprise, people were really nice to me. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t getting rude comments. I think we become such harsh critics of ourselves we forget that other people out there really don’t give a damn, ya know? Then, I started working with the makeup and skincare company. That meant I had to start posting pictures of myself in the makeup and skincare. It was terrifying for me. I hadn’t posted a picture of just my face in about a year. I was so insecure. THANKFULLY the skincare and makeup did wonders to my skin. I know I’ve posted my mini-glow up before but come on, look at the tone and roughness of my skin.
I still have a lot of struggles. I’m trying like hell to get out of debt. I am still at war with my self image and body image if I’m being honest. But for the first time in a long time, I am excited for the future. I have made plans with friends for next Spring. I’m looking forward to things that will happen years from now. This journey that I’ve been on, a constant stream of personal development and growth, has been life saving. I can’t wait to look back on this time in my life and see how much I’ve grown. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on myself. I know I have so much more to do on this earth. I’m just getting started.