Under my desk calendar was a letter addressed, “To Rebecca of 2017.” It was written by me at the end of 2016. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t have a very good memory anymore; one of the symptoms of Cushing’s is mental problems (both the cognitive and emotional.) But my feeling of what January of 2017 was like was of a cloud of despair. This was before my diagnosis and subsequent surgery, so I was on a slow, depressing road to death. (I’m not kidding around.) Imagine my surprise to read the letter and find a tone of upbeat recollections, a touch of concern here and there, and a cheerful optimism for the future. Was I fucking delusional? Apparently, I was. And perhaps that was the only way I was able to keep going. I will retype some of my letter to give you a taste of it, and my current update on the past year (sans details that would invade others’ privacy.)
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh, oh, I think that’s the funniest part of this letter! Hahahahahaha!
“…is looking for a new job. I’m so curious to what comes next!”
Curious? Interesting word, Pollyanna. Although your husband found a good part-time job, time is running out and nothing is happening. Yes, you have become more open to possibilities, and yes, you have become more accepting of uncertainty, but let’s be honest now: “Curious” has become “worried.”
No you’re not. Who are you trying to kid here? You wish you were looking forward to them, but you really just want to curl up in a ball in the corner of the couch and never leave the house. Here’s the low-down for cons in 2017:
You attend Arisia with your son, and afterwards realize there was no fucking way you could have survived without his help. You can barely function. You only keep going because he is with you and you want him to be happy. It’s a fantastic convention, and in your haze of physical problems and depression, you manage to find the highlights (Stephanie Law, Deadpool, Kittens of Doom), but I wouldn’t call that “so much fun!”
And PAX East? You are looking forward to going away for the weekend to run away from life, from the unending problems, from the increasingly concerned looks and conversations from family and friends about your health and your husband’s job search, and if you are truly honest with yourself, it is a chance to sit alone and despair. You aren’t even sure you will go to the convention, maybe just stay in your hotel room for the weekend. But then a couple days beforehand, your friend finds out you are going because you are on a GeekMom panel (which you are getting anxious about because you can’t think straight and are so afraid of sounding like a fool) and he’s there for work and won’t it be great to hang out ALL WEEKEND?! No, you think. No. I don’t want to pretend everything is fine. I don’t want to put on my happy face. You are really sick of your happy face. But you lie and say “Great!” Then as you walk across that long bridge to the convention center in the snow, alone and cold and slow with a walking cast, you decide you will not put on a happy face. Your friend can hang out with you or decide to leave, but you are done pretending. He meets you inside the con and is happy to see you. You complain, you are sad, you play poorly at games because you can’t concentrate. He asks if he can stay at your hotel because it’s easier than driving all the way back to his house. You do not smile or act excited. You tell him you don’t sleep well. He doesn’t care. He helps you walk across the bridge and get back to the hotel when you are too tired to read the signs and slip on ice with that damn boot. In the room, he listens to you talk about life and crap. You listen to him talk about life and crap. He goes to sleep. You wake up many times. Because he is there, you don’t cry. The next day at the con you both attend a panel about chickens. You both find this highly amusing. You meet GeekMoms and are embarrassed by what you look like and know you sound stupid, but they are very nice and seem even cooler than you imagined online. Your friend gives you big hugs when you leave and hopes you feel better soon. You go home and complain that you didn’t get a weekend all alone. In retrospect, you realize God had sent an angel to make sure you didn’t.
And all you will remember of ConnectiCon 2017 is how cute your friend’s daughter is. Damn, you wish you lived closer.
“…I hope we have more games. That’s fun!”
Can you stop with the exclamation points? Seriously. You sound like a third grader talking about the zoo. But yeah, the RPGs with friends were fun in 2016, but didn’t continue with that group. Instead you, hubby, son, and two other friends start a new campaign. And it is one of the highlights of the year. Spending time as a family, sharing a meal and game with lovely, funny people, and most importantly, your husband spending hours of free time planning the campaign. He even admitted it was great to focus on something other than looking for a new job or my health problems. Go elf mages, go.
“…sad about my Dad.”
Yeah, I know. But guess what? Oh, Rebecca of 2016, you are not going to believe what happens in 2017. Your dad becomes a superhero. He’s the one that starts the chain of events that leads you to diagnosis and surgery and recovery. He is with you every step of the way. Oh, resigned Rebecca of 2016, I won’t spoil the future of 2017 with your dad because that relationship is the best part of your year.
It certainly does. Remember in years past when it was multiple times a day? In the beginning half of 2017 you are down to a couple a week. Once the diagnosis is given, they mostly go away. Since the surgery in October you haven’t had any huge attacks at all. (Yeah, some anxiety, but life is life, and you’re no zen master.) Coincidentally, the intense, daily heartburn also goes away. Maybe not coincidence.
“…and the kids are doing fine. Hope that continues.”
It does. God is good. You did alright, mama.
“…some other things I did this year…”
For 2017, it’s what you didn’t do that’s life changing. Sweetheart, you learned to let go. Perhaps for other people, they wouldn’t have to have two broken feet, intense body pain, crushing depression, anxiety attacks, debilitating allergies, lack of sleep, etc, etc, to get them to slow down. For you, The Little Engine That Could needed to become Ferdinand. You give up TeaPunk Tales, all other creative writing projects, change to Occasional Contributor on GeekMom, no more cooking classes, quit the co-op committee, relinquish being secretary of the Creation Care Team, quit teaching choirs at Consortium, quit teaching preschool music classes, do not sign up to teach at HENAA for 2018, sing only occasionally at church, and embrace Yin Yoga.
As you slowly let go of what defines your life, you also let go of trying to control it. Since you were a little girl, you demanded, “I do myself!” This may have helped as a young mom, but no longer serves you. 2017 was the year you let other people help you. The last remnants of your ego sail off to Hawaii with the confession of you-will-know-who, leaving you on the shores of WTF? where you stuff the last of your pride into a bottle and toss that as well. You accept every crate of rum from passing ships with no promise of return payment. They all seem fine with this. In fact, many want to get drunk with you on your shores, singing and carousing loudly in defiance of the crap that comes with life.
To Rebecca of 2018: I have no clue what happens next. All the Rebecca’s of the past hope you learn from their mistakes, let go of their regrets, and enjoy the waves.
Move with intention.