My 2017 started, quite literally, with a bang. In January, I was hit by a car while crossing the street and, somehow, managed to avoid dying, developing long-term complications, or even breaking any bones!
I suppose it felt like, for the first time in probably forever, that I had a lot I needed to tend to and needed things to be okay. Just before the new year, I’d taken the step of buying my first house with my long-time girlfriend and the boy I’ve raised as my son since he was born. While I didn’t fully recover from the accident for many months (my right earlobe was shredded and a serious risk for infection and my right knee couldn’t bend from the trauma), I was determined to make things feel as close to normal as I could and was back at work in just under a week. I hope I never forget the look on the regional manager’s face when he came to visit and was spooked half-to-death when he saw what I was doing and in what condition! I don’t say any of this to brag about my work ethic because, believe me, I’m far from perfect there, but this year forced me to fight through things I didn’t know I could.
I was working full-time, raising a child, getting my M.S., and paying a mortgage. I had no time to seriously pity myself or even try to get physical therapy. I’m lucky that my job at Chipotle gave me such a physically demanding routine and all the fresh food I could eat! Without that, I’m not sure I’d have recovered half as well as I did.
My handling of the accident, it turned out, was important practice because, as traumatizing as that was, the worst was yet to come.
Life in the new house was mostly fantastic! Being around to read and play with my son was stupendously rewarding, but more rewarding still was the feeling that, yes, in fact, I was supporting a family. My partner, I would find out, was living a very different life.
She’d been working night shifts and taking all the overtime over weekends she could get. I was proud of her and how was knocking down her debts, but the situation seemed to be putting more strains on the relationship than it should have. What little time we did have together became distant and cold. Intimacy evaporated and it started to be too much, but when I confronted her she’d told me that her medications were mostly to blame. She was lying when she told me that, but I believed it and did everything I could to be supportive and cope with my own dissatisfaction until one day in late June, a week or so after both mine and my son’s birthday, she came clean: She’d been having an affair for months and had been trying to position herself financially as to not need my support anymore.
It’s important to say that I had not been a perfect partner and, roughly a year and a half or so into our relationship I had been unfaithful and it had been absolutely devastating to work through that, but we had. I’d gone so far as to arrange and pay for couples therapy and, by her own account, since then I had done absolutely everything right. 2017 taught me that’s not enough sometimes.
So, in August, I moved back in with my parents and the transition has been almost dementing (I love if you’re reading this, but I actually kind of like folding my own laundry). My commute to work became nonsensical and my emotions were, and really still are, all over the place. Being a year from my teaching license and degree, I applied for work a Teaching Assistant and got it and, to help cope with all the insanity, I leaned into my music in ways I really hadn’t for years.
Because of my relationship with music and my career path as an educator, it has literally been my job to reflect on my experiences during a year when all I wanted to do sometimes was give up or shut down or worse and, now that the year is really ending, I’m reflecting again.
Some of us have lost loved ones this year or had things go in directions they were never supposed to go. There’s no way to be glib about that, but I know for me, and probably many of us, this next year needs to be about healing. If you’re reading this and are someone who is still trying to make sense of it all, don’t feel rushed because of the season. Life is hard enough..
I’ve met so many people this year.. New and amazing people and reconnections with old friends. Through my job and through my music I’ve thrown myself into crazy situations and received more validation than my self-conscious little heart can handle sometimes. As I’m pretty sure Katt Williams once said, “My cup overfloweth and I ain’t even thirsty!” So, with that feeling, I’m trying to start 2018 off with a raised cup somewhere, probably filled with Coke Zero, and hoping that I can heal my heart the same way I healed my body in 2017.