2018 began with me crying and laughing hysterically in a mini-van loaded up with personal belongings with a passenger window that refused to close as I drove to my mother’s instead of my new place of residence because I was scared someone might break into the van parked on the street and steal said stuff because no one at the new place was going to be awake.
This should have been a clear sign of the things to come.
I’m going to be honest. This year sucked.
The Captain and I decided to move in with his mother with the best intentions. We were trying to save up for a house in the future, and get out of a bad living situation under unhelpful home owners. Instead, we found new stresses. Within a few weeks, my social anxiety was at full blast. I spent most of my time locked up in our bedroom. I was obsessive about cleaning up after myself. I was anxious when I was outside the room, worried about whenever anyone else was coming home, and developed a lot of nervous ticks. It was not an ideal situation for anyone.
At the beginning of March, my grandma passed away. While she’d been sick and declining for a while and we’d had a close call back in October, I still wasn’t ready to lose her. This was the first major loss of my life. The Captain and I handle grief differently. He moves toward acceptance almost instantly whereas I’m still grieving today although doing better. I put up walls between myself and the world, and tried to heal with my family.
Then, at the end of April, my grandpa unexpectedly passed. You know those moments you will remember forever, that burn themselves into your soul? That’s what hearing the news was for me. I’d just bought comics and my mom asked me to call her so I did. And when it was over I made the most unnatural noise and sobbed and then went still. And as The Captain drove me to my mom’s house I remember thinking, “This can’t be real.” I shut down after this, because having people acknowledge this loss meant it was real. I didn’t want their condolences or better places. I just wanted my family back, my childhood back. I put up more walls.
I kind of remember the funeral. It was a day long affair and almost a hundred people showed up. The pastor read the poems I wrote for them—which I’d asked him not to—but it seemed like people reacted positively and needed my words as much as I needed to write them so… I drank. A lot. The trees had been limbed earlier and we lit a bonfire and I stood around it with my family. We watched home movies of holidays past. Ate too much potato salad that wasn’t Grandma’s. Each of us took one of Grandpa’s handkerchiefs to use during the service and kept it; his Old Spice scent is almost gone now.
At the end of June, while The Captain was away at work and while I was clearing out some of my grandparent’s things, Logan escaped from the house and his mother didn’t notice till the next day. Immediately when we returned, we took up a search and we found him another day later, but a lot of my anxieties, worries, and pent up emotions had come to a boil. So I made a decision: we couldn’t stay. By the end of the next month it was certain that I was moving out with the cats and The Captain was staying. We were going to try “living apart together.” Within a couple of weeks, I found an apartment that—with a bit of stretching—I could afford and had plenty of space for the cats.
So, in the middle of September, at the beginning of the new semester, I moved out. Once again, I did a vast majority of the moving myself but it didn’t take too long for us to get settled into The Bramford (what I call our little home). There was a loose understanding that, maybe, one day The Captain might move in with us or we might move again to a bigger place for the two of us. Having a space of my own for the first time in my life was (and is) a bit strange. I don’t have to pick up after anyone other than myself. I can decorate in whatever way I please, cook whenever and whatever I want, and choose which shows I want to watch instead of flipping through the selections for a stupid amount of time. It also gave me a better space to focus on my schoolwork.
This was really needed because I was suffering with the most challenging and almost useless course of my academic career (so far). I had high hopes for the course at the beginning of the semester, but with every week I found myself dragging through the reading, feeling like a failure with every assignment, and questioning why I was even in grad school to begin with. I’m all for classes that challenge you to grow, but this course felt like it did the opposite and—in the end—I’m dissatisfied and regret how much it hurt me.
The biggest hurt being that I had to increase my headache medication for the first time. Prior to beginning grad school, I finally saw a neurologist for some issues I’d been having since the car accident in 2015. I was prescribed some preventative migraine medication and managed to get by on a low dose even with moderate reading loads, lots of writing, and weird sleep schedules. Then, with the stress of moving and school and anxiety/depression in general, I started having headaches and migraines again even with my dosage. So I got it increased, and (so far) I’m doing better. But I’m blaming the challenging course and its 250+ pages of reading a week.
Of course, between grief, depression, anxiety, and a busy schedule, there isn’t much time to devote to a healthy relationship. If I’m continuing in my brutal honesty, The Captain and I have been having problems for quite some time. My friends have talked with me. My family dropped some veiled hints. He and I had many, many discussions. In November, we asked each other if we still wanted the same things and if we were still worth fighting for. We decided to keep trying. But, ten days before Christmas, when we checked in our relationship, we found that it was not improving. The Captain and I decided to end our engagement and break-up.
Even though this was a mutual decision, I’m still sad. You can’t spend five and a half years of your life and plan a future with someone and not be attached in some way. I still love him. But, we’re agreed that we’re not the best people for each other anymore. We’ve grown apart and our lives are going in different directions. I can only wish him the best.
So, to sum up, I’ve lost a lot in 2018—my grandparents, my fiancé. I’ve been depressed, anxious, sick (with bronchitis for about two months), grieving, and busier than ever with grad school. I moved twice in one year and now I’m the epitome of Single Girl Life as I sit at home with a glass of wine, a bowl of pasta, in a fluffy robe with my cats.
And you know what? Despite all of the negative things that have happened there have been positives too.
My relationship with my family is as solid as ever; my sister may be an annoying teenager but she’s funny as hell. My family also welcomed two additions in the form of new cousins. I may be busy with grad school, but I love almost every second of it. I can feel myself growing and getting better as a writer with every story. I also finally have my thesis advisor so I’m on the official path to finishing this thing and getting my degree! I adore my cohort; they’re the most wonderful people and I hope to call them lifelong friends and peers. While I don’t plan on being a professor, being a TA isn’t that bad. I got to teach a composition class and use horror movies as the basis in the spring, and now I learned about science stuff in the fall with a great teaching team to help me adjust to a new class. My best friends are, as always, my back bone. I’m still learning to rely on them more even in the bad times, but I know I can rely on them for a good meme, a cute video, or some mind-bending theories when I need it. I’ve consumed some great pop culture this year in the forms of books, movies, TV shows, and music.
So, yes, 2018 had a lot of big, horrible moments. But it had a lot of good, little moments too. Still, I’m going to hope that 2019 is a better year for me with few losses and more gains. I’ve got great plans for some adventures, new independence to explore, friends and family to spend time with, and a new chapter of life to write.
This isn’t the end; it’s only the beginning.