In Memory of 2018

Welcome, new year.

Bye Felicia… @2018.

 

2018 is coming to an end and I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. I, like so many others every year, am desperate for a symbolic fresh start.

As I reflect back on this year, my heart is pulled in so many directions. Last year was really bad - my brother passed away suddenly, I forced myself through my last semester of college and left my entire support system and family behind for life in a foreign and isolated world. This year has been different, we were blessed with the birth of our nephew and Jerome and I got married and had the most beautiful day of our lives surrounded by the people we love. That’s definitely a highlight! We had an amazing surprise honeymoon that we seriously needed and we’ve moved into a new place to start fresh in 2019, and are excited to begin our life together as husband and wife (I still get excited calling us that!)

This year hasn’t been all beautiful though. It’s really just been, excruciating. Honestly. It’s challenged us both as individuals and as a couple in ways we would have never imagined. Since losing my brother, 2018 was a year of firsts. I’ve found myself very alone in my grief and people seem to expect me to be fine now. After a year, I think people think that if they bring up the loos that it will upset me. It doesn’t. The last year has been harder in many ways as a grieving person than the first few weeks were. Zach’s best friend also passed away suddenly this year and losing Killian was like losing my other brother and a link to Zach as well. 

All the firsts without Z are harder than I imagined, and I also had a lot personal firsts this year - I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, chronic migraine, and a form of OCD. I list them out because as far as mental illness goes - these diagnoses can often go hand-in-hand. It’s important for me to let you know because not only do you have to know that you’re not alone in your own mental illness, but because these things don’t define me. They were a part of my year, yes, and continue to be a part of my life, but they are only that. I am not my diagnosis. That being said, this year was the first time in my life I felt like I really had hit  “bottom.” My health rapidly deteriorated and I was living in a debilitating state of pain on top of the mental illnesses aforementioned. I’ve put a lot of my goals on the back burner just to keep my head above water, and at the end of the day I’m proud of myself for not sinking.

This year something else big happened in our family: Jerome boldly began his journey into sobriety. For those of you who know how sobriety works, you know what a feat this is. I’m so proud of him for the steps he’s taken this year to be free from dependency and for his choice to change his life and become so actively involved in his recovery program and therapies. On top of this challenging choice, he’s also endured multiple surgeries with the most positive attitude and faced seeing his military career unexpectedly change course. He works really hard to support us and never complains and I’ve loved watching him transform into an even better and much improved version of himself this year.

Our focus together on bringing spirituality back into our lives and taking care of ourselves in focused and meditative ways has been really beautiful to support each other through.

2018 will forever be our “wedding year” and we are sure to work hard to preserve the absolute joy and love surrounding our marriage. I want to remember these last two years as the hardest of my life too, so I never forget how far I’ve come, when I do.

I tell you all this not for you to pity me or see me as a victim - but to see me as a human. Life is full of dualities - I’m not your only friend or social media account with mental illness or grief. I’m not the only person who got married without someone I love present. Between those hard moment san realities, and often because of them - the good times are so damn good y’all. They can also bring sadness but it’s how we choose to see the world and ourselves in it that decides how we react and respond to those moments. Real life is so much more than bikini pics and hashtags and astro memes. It’s gritty and tough and often very painful, but the beauty of our humanity is that we can still triumph. And love each other through it all.

With a new year to look forward to, I feel more excited for where the future will take us than I ever have before. To all my friends and family: tell me how I can love and better support you next year. I always want to strive to be better and in my hardest seasons of life I pray I always learn to look forward. May your new year be filled with as much hope as ours. 

Spread love and light in 2019.

x Olivia

 

Some of my 2018 highlights